building demolition

How building a new school became one big STEM lesson

Engineers, architects, plumbers, electricians, surveyors, and landscape architects all are helping make math “real” for local K-12 students as work goes on to build a new high school on Vashon Island in Washington State.

building demolition

Educators have brilliantly leveraged the swarm of nearby technical professionals to engage students in real-life math challenges. Read more from Washington STEM, which provided a grant for the project.

This project focuses on math connected to the new building, although it has spilled over into other subjects. In English, students strengthen their powers of observation and non-fiction writing skills by reporting on the building’s progress.

From a sustainability perspective,  it would also be a great opportunity to engage students with the art and science of green building and landscape ecology. For example, imagine students also working on questions like:

  • Can the debris from demolition of the old school be used for anything else?
  • How do you make a habitat?
  • Does the position of the building on the land make a difference in how much energy is used?

The project has generated so much enthusiasm that participants are looking for ways to scale the approach for wider use. Washington STEM argues, “Schools build new buildings and renovate old buildings every year, and students across our state are struggling in math and science.”

I’d argue that schools aren’t the only organizations constructing buildings, and educators should look more widely in the community for opportunities like these.

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