BCDS Students Combine Learning by Design with Math

Posted on: May 31st, 2016 by admin
Bi-Cultural 6th grader Robert Okun presents his learning-by-design proposal for an enhanced recess center during his math class with Ben Wiener in the background. (Photo by Dora Salm)

Bi-Cultural 6th grader Robert Okun presents his learning-by-design proposal for an enhanced recess center during his math class with Ben Wiener in the background. (Photo by Dora Salm)

While some students may just dream about having a special place like a fully-equipped recess room, a student center and a rock climbing wall in their schools, a group of students at Bi-Cultural Day School recently used their math skills to create a set of wish lists, taking the first steps toward making their dream spaces come to fruition.

The students in middle-school teacher Adrianne Robinson’s 6th grade math class recently participated in a learning-by-design project as part of their math curriculum. In this project, students conducted an analysis of possible ways in which they could improve the physical space of the school campus, complete with calculating total costs of the re-designed space.

The ideas ran the gamut from a uniquely-designed recess room complete with space for a study hall and game tables, a student center, a new bleacher system in the school gymnasium for basketball games and school assemblies, a musical arts center and recording studio, and an outdoor arts arena (including space to paint and draw landscapes and a potter’s wheel). Each proposal included scaled blueprints as well a total cost analysis accounting for all materials and labor. Students were given the task of deciding the precise locations of these additions. They had the opportunity to present their visions and proposals to both the Bi-Cultural administrative team and the school’s executive board of directors. Following the students’ presentations, an online survey asked their classmates and parents to vote for their favorite design.

“I am so proud of our students for this project. The students used a wide-range of incredibly important skills throughout the process: creativity, basic architecture, research, even determining how much raw materials and labor would cost. Lastly, the students presented their findings to each other and to adults in the school, displaying a high level of maturity and understanding of their concepts,” said Robinson.

Students expressed a great deal of excitement at having the opportunity to design their own space to improve student life. “During the colder months, we are inside most of the time and that gets very hard–by the end of the day it’s really hard to focus. To have a special place where we could have recess and also have a place to study would be very helpful, and I think that a lot of the kids would really appreciate it,” said Robert Okun, a 6th grader who participated in this project.

Bi-Cultural’s administrative team took this project and the students’ proposals to heart after hearing the students’ presentations. “The feasibility study and the entire project made us take a real look on how we could improve the students’ campus experience. We hope to take the proposal with the most votes and try to make this vision become a reality,” said Rachel Haron, Associate Principal of General Studies.