3D Form created with a Graphing Calculator

Making Math Benefits Real: How One Teacher Crafted a Solution to Get His Students More Involved

Did you know that students’ interests in mathematics decrease significantly by the time they enter high school? This decrease is measured universally, and many factors have been attributed to the reasons this decline proves true. One of those reasons is lack of connection to the tangible. One way for educators to build more excitement around math is to build lesson plans that provide tangible end results for students, something that allows them to hold their success or failure in their hands.   Combating disengagement by sharing lesson ideas is quickly becoming a common theme among educators, and social media is one way that a community of teachers can come together and share ideas.  Twitter Math Camp is a virtual collective of teachers and administrators who communicate year round via Twitter, blogs and other social media platforms. They meet annually for face to face interactions at a four-day conference, typically held in July.

John Chapin, a math teacher at the Academy of Engineering and Technology, part of the Academies of Loudoun in Leesburg, Virginia, wanted to tap into a great student idea from Heather Kohn, who used CAD design software and multiple 3D printers. Chapin’s students had no design experience and limited access to 3D printers. But these challenges didn’t stop Mr. Chapin from using open source technologies to craft a unique and easily accessible solution for his students. He knew each student had access to a graphing calculator and Desmos, a website that can translate mathematical equations to virtual visualizations. After capturing the image and converting it to a file that Tinkercad, a free, easy to use web-based CAD design program could read, he was able to make a lesson plan that was well-suited to the individual needs of his classroom. The best part was that he thought about how it could scale to other educators as well.  The design can be done with browsers, and a little CAD design knowledge.  “It is a powerful thing for a student to come up with a design, convert it to abstract mathematical equations, print it out and then be able to see it, touch it and hold it in their hands.”

To access the step-by-step guide created by Chapin, visit his blog here, or check out our learning modules for this and other great lessons for your classroom.

Gina Scala

Gina Scala is Stratasys’ director of marketing for worldwide education where she works to listen to the voice of the education customer and translate that into meaningful marketing messages and product solutions that meet teaching and learning needs for schools. Prior to this role she served as Vice President of education & professional development at the Direct Marketing Association. Gina has a strong background in both marketing and education. Prior to DMA, she served as Director of Marketing for a global professional development company, Editure, where she was responsible for the marketing strategy and development for six subsidiary companies. She also worked for education publishers: Sadlier, delivering in-service training, and Pearson Education as an educational product manager. Scala holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the Pennsylvania State University, a MA in special education from The College of New Jersey and she is a credentialed teacher in the state of NJ. She is most proud however of her two amazing children who inspire her each day as they learn about the world around them.

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