By: Samantha Marquise, Baylor University Intern
“When am I ever going to use this in real life?”. If you have ever taken a math class, these words may have left your mouth as you struggled to complete a challenging homework assignment. As students struggle to learn complicated equations and solve difficult word problems it is often difficult to see how these lessons could extend beyond a high school classroom and apply to the real world. Midway High School has answered this question through their unique course “Geometry in Construction” that brings the typical geometry curriculum to life through carpentry work. Through their recent grant, Building Beyond the Textbook, the class can now apply what they have learned to the real life construction of a new shed.
With the Building Beyond the Textbook grant, students involved in the Geometry in Construction class will be able to see first hand how school lectures hold value outside of the classroom. Shawn Rejcek, the teacher of the Geometry in Construction program, says that by “[applying] mathematics to problems arising in everyday life and the workplace”, students will be able to better grasp the concepts that they are learning. Instead of struggling to wrap their heads around how to solve a geometric proof, students will get “hands-on instructional training” on geometry concepts in action through the building of the new shed with the materials provided by the grant. By transforming the ideas on paper into tangible items that the students themselves have created, the grant works to highlight the values in education that are often hidden behind mundane worksheets and homework assignments.
Beyond aiding in the teaching of difficult math concepts, this grant also helps prepare students for success in the carpentry field after high school. Mr, Rejeck says that by giving students a project in a way that “a real would construction project would be run”, they are able to get a taste of how the carpentry and construction industry works. By preparing students with realistic expectations of what work in the carpentry field is like, students are better able to make decisions about their future, and can have confidence in their decision on whether or not to enter the field. Furthermore, by providing students with tangible projects and experience, the grant helps those students who do choose to pursue the industry a leg up over the competition. Having a tangible project that the students can talk about and show a final product of is very beneficial when it comes to both educational opportunities as well as job interviews. The application of the Building Beyond the Classroom is a key example of how Midway ISD is working to set their students up for success beyond the halls of their schools.
The grant has been very successful thus far, reports Mr. Rejeck. Students are enjoying their work and working on the shed has given the students a “firm grasp” on many of the lessons that they had struggled with previously. Mr. Rejeck says that “the greatest benefit to the students involved was watching their confidence grow” as they learn through hands-on experience. As students have embarked on the project, many have taken on other at-home projects as well, furthering their understanding and practice of the concepts.
This grant has been named in honor of Sturdisteel in appreciation of their long-time support, but all of the Education Foundation’s donors made this possible. For more information about the Midway ISD Education Foundation and their programs, visit www.midwayisd.org/foundation.