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McMurdo Station
Pathways Project:
Finding the Best Insulation

Content Strand:
Algebra

Teacher:
Christine Fairless

School:
Bernard White MS
Union City, CA
Grade 8

Project Director:
Jennifer Knudson

30 minutes

Finding the Best Insulation: The Pathways curriculum presents students with design problems from the world of work and guides students in learning mathematics while they create and analyze solutions. In this lesson, students roleplay architects, designing a research lab for Antarctica. After learning enough about the frozen south to inform their design, students work in small groups to first draft a design, and then to decide on the best level of insulation for the walls of their building. Students use software to generate data about levels of insulation and their effects on heating and building costs. Graphing becomes a focus as students record this data in charts to support arguments that they share with the class. Students follow up with an investigation for roof insulation and draw up a final report.

Architect floor planning
Pathways Project:
Dream House

Content Strand:
Measurement

Teacher:
Terri Deja

School:
Buchanan Middle School
Buchanan, MI
Grade 6

Project Director:
Jennifer Knudson

40 minutes

Dream House: Students are architects designing a dream home for their client in this lesson from the Pathways curriculum. Pathways is composed of a series of design units based on the mathematics that used in real-world work settings. The focus for this lesson is on the concept of area, measuring the area of irregular figures, and is balanced by an open-ended question that includes area. The class first measured floor space and developed a definition of area in their own words to arrive at the mathematical definition of area. They moved into group work where they identified an irregular room in the blueprint for their dream home and solved for the area of the room recording their strategies along the way. Students assumed the role of carpet installers in their next challenge, and a visit from Mr. Scott, a local carpet installer, provided a model and insight into some of the fundamental mathematical concepts involved in laying carpet. The following day brought the class into the computer lab where they experimented with scale by enlarging one of the rooms in their dream home.