LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — Sanding and sawdust are part of the syllabus for a unique class at Alameda International High School.
The class is called Geometry in Construction or GIC. It’s a way to teach geometry basics through woodworking and building.
“They actually see where it’s applied and how to use it and it makes sense to them because it’s not just a theoretical problem they’re doing on paper in a classroom,” said Mac Compton, a JeffCo School District math teacher. “They actually get to work with it.”
While getting their hands dirty, the students learn about slope and right-angle trigonometry. However, it’s not just the math benchmarks teachers are proud of.
“I used to be struggling at math and since I’m in this math program, I’m doing better math now,” said sophomore Adam Magana.
“You’re given problems to solve in math and sometimes they make no sense. Here though, the difference is, they’re making mistakes, they’re working together, they’re doing all of the things that make math easier to learn,” said Kevin Cogswell, a JeffCo School District math teacher.
The students are finding relevance in math, making strides in their confidence, and setting themselves up for the future. A handful of students have received their OSHA certifications for 10-hours of a construction industry course.
“I want to go into architecture. So it’s very helpful to come here and get a lot of hands-on construction work that would help me for my future,” said William Manzanares, a sophomore student.
Their first task was to build benches that can transform into a table when set up in a pair.
Once the students saw it all come together, the teachers said something clicked.
“What I’m noticing is that they’re more willing to take risks. When they’re building here and they cut wrong or they do something wrong and we fix it. They have more courage to do the same thing in the math,” said Cogswell.
“When they finally saw it come together, it was like you saw another light bulb go off,” said Compton.
The assignment doesn’t end there though, Compton is hoping to sell the benches the students made to community members for $150 each in order to further the program and help pay for more supplies and tools.
Originally, part of the program was funded by a 2018 5A grantbut funds are running out.
Compton asked community members who are interested in buying the benches to contact him.
Compton hopes to continue to build on the success of these sophomore students and create a level-two version of this class. Their next goal is to build a tiny house, which Compton said would support their vision of low-cost housing.
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