MFM1P Final Task – Designing a School

My students are in a unique situation. They are currently in
Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 10.20.55 PMgrade 9 with a new pilot program (1:1 BYOD where every student must have a laptop or tablet). Part way through their educational career they will merge with another local high school into our current building. Then, they will all move into a new building for their last year of high school together. Currently the board team is assessing the site, making designs and planning for the new building.

This led to a final task idea that builds on some of the work we did with proportional reasoning this semester. My students will design a new school and create a scale model using ratios. However, due to our unique situation we are able to step this up a bit to make it a bit more authentic.

Yesterday Mr. Dance (Superintendent) and Mr. Parker (an architectural technologist) from our school board came in as guest speakers. Mr. Parker ran us through the process of making decisions for school design. Right from the spreadsheet supplied by the Ministry that helps you determine the square meterage per student, number of classrooms and other spaces, up to the virtual walk through created using 3D design software. For the record, the virtual walkthrough example Steve created of our current building got “ohhhhhh’s and ahhhhhh’s” from the students.

Before I explain the rest of the students task – a quick shout out to Steve Parker who actually took my task idea and designed his presentation with my curriculum expectations in mind. He also let us totally pick his brain over the pathway he took to get such an amazing job. We learned about the college programs, different streams in the same field and experiences. He brought in the big idea of environmental impact and sustainability. Lastly, he connected to the software technology we have in our technology department in the school, to engage students in design tech courses as well.

I had no idea how a school was designed. I can’t believe I even dreamed of doing this task before going and learning with Steve myself first. As he worked through the process, he touched on ratios and critical thinking when deciding on rooms and spaces needing to meet the Ministry “benchmarks” (another new term I learned). Steve also showed us what “bubble diagrams” are and how they are kind of like visual brainstorming in proportions. I had never seen these. Students described them as “sick”.

After yesterdays session I need to revamp the task based on the great things I learned and student input. However, essentially we plan on having students use the Ministry spreadsheet to work with the ratios and end up at the correct number of classrooms, washrooms, special function rooms, etc. Then, they will create a bubble diagram and start to form that into a sketch with approximate dimensions. Lastly, they will create a scale model using their choice of 3D design software, Minecraft, Lego, cardboard, etc. Other expectations such as slope (rate of change), volume, area and perimeter will all come into play when we actually measure the field where the school is to be built, design wheelchair ramps, calculate volume for heating/cooling and calculate floorspace and costs of flooring. At the end, students will present their schools to the class. We have been invited to send in digital copies of student designs to Mr. Dance and Mr. Parker. Mr. Dance is interested in comparing student designs to those they are working on and making notes of their great ideas.

I am very excited about this project. If anyone has ever done a design project like this with MFM1P (or other grades) and has some tips and suggestions for me, I’d greatly appreciate them!

Yesterdays class reminded me that we simply can’t teach our classes in isolation. The more often we can bring in “real people” and connect to our community the better. This project and learning will be immensely deeper because of the input and help from “real” people. It will be way beyond what I could have done on my own.