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Practical Math: Carrier Mills class combines geometry, real-world application

  • Carrier Mills-Stonefort School District technology coordinator Robert Manier explains how his Geometry Concepts students designed a small building with a Gothic arch.

    Carrier Mills-Stonefort School District technology coordinator Robert Manier explains how his Geometry Concepts students designed a small building with a Gothic arch.
    Travis DeNeal photo

  • Manier explains how the Gothic arch is designed by the intersection of two circles, an architectural concept builders discovered a few hundred years ago.

    Manier explains how the Gothic arch is designed by the intersection of two circles, an architectural concept builders discovered a few hundred years ago.
    Travis DeNeal photo

  • Manier displays another Geometry Concepts project, a popsicle-stick bridge.

    Manier displays another Geometry Concepts project, a popsicle-stick bridge.
    Travis DeNeal photo

 
 
updated: 4/7/2017 8:20 AM

CARRIER MILLS -- Students frequently may ponder when they will actually use what they've learned in the real world.

Some Carrier Mills-Stonefort students, though, already have a pretty good idea thanks to a class that combines real-world skills with math problems.

Dubbed Geometry Concepts, the class takes care of a necessary class requirement for those who might be a little better with their hands than their math facts.

"The state requires a geometry component for kids to graduate from high school," Robert Manier, the technology coordinator for the district, said. "If a student is having trouble in geometry or has failed it, that student gets kicked back into this basic geometry class that has just enough geometry concepts along with real-world application."

Manier also happens to teach the Geometry Concepts class, which is composed mostly of seniors.

A visitor to the classroom likely would be surprised to see a miniature Gothic-arched structure rising from the floor of the room, with other smaller projects also visible.

This is part of the class' real-world application, Manier said.

"This is a way for students to see sort of a personal application of geometry," he said. "It's something used frequently in construction of both large and small projects, and combining it with basic construction concepts makes it easier to visualize."

Among the smaller projects are various miniature bridges made from popsicle sticks glued together. Classroom participants have a contest to see how much weight each popsicle-stick bridge will hold. The most recent winner held around 450 to 500 pounds successfully, Manier said.

The class isn't all construction projects, though, Manier said. Regular homework, quizzes and tests come straight from the district's geometry textbook like the more conventional geometry classes.

Still, he said, students may gain some extra skills in this class.

"There are some very practical things they learn, both from mathematical concepts and from trial and error," he said. "Sometimes it's just as important for them to make a mistake as part of the learning process."

Superintendent and high school principal Bryce Jerrell said the work done in the class is impressive.

"To me, it is very amazing what Mr. Manier and his students have done," Jerrell said. "It's a great way for our students to learn geometry and at the same time learn practical skills."