Students always seem to ask when they will be using education in the real world. The Upper Dauphin Area Middle School students know the answer to this question. 

They are taking part in a “Real World Math Course,”  that made improvements to the school’s existing courtyard using creativity, math and technology skills.

Using Education in the Real World“I liked going outside and making what we planned on doing possible,” Bailey Maurer, Spring Glen, a member of “The Constructioners” winning team, said.

“The rendering of the site was probably the most difficult to do because I had never done anything like that before.”

Principal Michael Sim portrayed a potential customer, who said he needed help with landscaping and redesigning the courtyard.

Teams of students were tasked with the job of calculating the perimeter, area and volume, the cubic feet of flower beds and how many yards of mulch would be required to fill each bed.

The teams determined where to purchase the mulch after acquiring quotes from local businesses.

The students did a scale drawing of the plot on graph paper, designed a computerized rendering of their idea using Google SketchUp and presented their ideas and developmental drawings to district staff and administrators.

The final part of the 11-week project required selecting a winning presentation and having the students actually install the design in the courtyard, based on their calculations and under the guidance of Blake Dutweiler, technology education instructor and Dan Frake, computer instructor, who co-taught the class.

This is the first year for the course, which was created to challenge eighth-graders who scored well on standardized tests and other benchmark data in the classroom.

Joining Maurer on the winning team were Ryan Strohecker and Jeff Klinger.

“All three of us are good in math, our calculations were correct and we had some good ideas,” Maurer said when asked why his team’s design was selected.

The other participating teams included “The Trojans Landscaping,” “The Wild Flowers,” “The Mighty Morphan Flower Arrangers,” “Mulching Monkeys” and “The Time Breakers.”

Elements from several teams were incorporated into one winning final design, which Maurer put together for the final computerized rendering. Then the class put its plans into action and began the actual upgrades.

“I like being outside and playing in the dirt,” said Morgan Maurer, Elizabethville (no relation to Bailey). “I like to do ‘guy’ things and I’d rather be out than sit inside.”

As a member of the Mighty Morphan Flower Arrangers team, Morgan Maurer said doing the math calculations was the toughest part of the course. She was the only team member, according to her instructors, that was confident enough to use the power edger while making the necessary improvements at the site.

“Instead of just talking about it, I liked that we actually got to do it ourselves,” she said.

Another classmate, Brittany Kinney, Elizabethville, said she thought the effort to do the calculations and proper pre-planning was well worth it.

“It’s a lot neater and cleaner now,” she said.

Keegan Kerstetter, meanwhile, thought figuring out the patterns and doing the rendering was the most challenging aspect of the course.

“Finishing it up and putting the final touches on the courtyard, and deciding what type of plants that we’d use was my favorite part,” said Kerstetter, Elizabethville.

Strohecker could see the course’s practical uses.

Continue reading Upper Dauphin Area students apply math to real life.

Read more on applying learning to life.

Using Education in the Real World