As the school year drew to a close, the entry hallway of Westchester Day School was lined with five original miniature geometry cities, the result of a collaborative design project in the third grade.
Third grade teacher Barbara Rosen introduced the initiative to bring math to life, so that WDS students could “take the knowledge that they learned from math and put it into a creative project.” Rosen observed that “they all enjoyed the process, building together in a group using original ideas and making decisions together.” The interactive process resulted in five original geometry cities, with names that ranged from “Segment City” to “Acute City.”
Structuring the project so that the students had guidelines, Rosen required that each city had at least 10 three dimensional buildings made out of foam and paper, and at least 10 one dimensional shapes. In addition, the students were required to have parallel roads and intersecting roads, but all the roads had to connect. Students had a list of structures and urban areas from which to choose, including parks, museums, newspaper office, supermarket, synagogue, police station, bridges, stores and bus stops, to name a few. This introduction to urban planning not only “reinforced what the students had learned in geometry class, but took them beyond,” stated Rosen.
Students enjoyed drawing designs, putting blocks together, connecting roads that intersected and folding paper to make shapes. “It was fun building a city and I liked working in a group to figure out what to make,” said third grader Alex Gewanter. Classmate Eliana Fein described the experience, saying, “I liked the chance to construct a city, and enjoyed naming the different buildings and roads.”
Rosen echoed the students’ enthusiasm, recognizing that “interaction was very key on how they designed and planned and were flexible in their decision making.” Students were excited to share their imaginative cities with WDS. Seth Berkowitz stated, “I was excited to see the finished product in the main building, where the rest of the school could see.”