Building a boat to learn physics and algebra? Mosaicing birdbaths to learn about polygons and geometry? The students at Eagle Rock have been pushing the limits of project based learning in order to stretch their minds. The two math focused classes for the fall trimester asked students to put their learning to use on some pretty big projects. In addition to constructing the boats, students worked in the science lab to understand other aspects of boats. The students answered questions such as: What makes a boat float? What is the chemistry of epoxy? How much does a boat cost to build? What role have boats played in various cultures?
How Students were Engaged
Video of the boat building: http://eaglerockschool.tumblr.com/post/251259362/the-boats-are-almost-done-pbl As the course came to an end, the two cedar strip canoes were ready to put in the water. Students were excited to test out their handiwork. The canoes were then sold to benefit of the Eagle Rock School Higher Education Fund. From the outside it may look like students in the Boat Building class simply built two cedar strip canoes. However, the actual construction of the canoes only scratched the surface of what the students learned. The canoes acted as a vehicle for complex lessons about teamwork, individual perseverance, the culture and history of boats, density, velocity, scale models, and chemistry. “At times it can feel like the building is taking a lot of class time. But you have to remember that that is where the real learning is happening,” noted Math Instructional Specialist, Karen Ikegami.