Putting math into motion is the mission of an after school boat building workshop for middle school students.
In Traverse City, while Gavan Wassell and his classmates calculate fractions, angles, curves and polygons in the effort to build a paddle board, their math scores are increasing along with their understanding of practical mathematics.
Twice a week students meet with instructor Adam Burke, measuring, cutting, and tracing the outlines of what will become a paddle board. Each cut and mark on the hull is a lesson in real world applications for math learned in the classroom.
“You can’t help but use math when you build boats,” said Burks, a veteran boat builder and instructor.
He started building stand up paddle boards with teens three years ago. Later he joined RED8 Boatworks, teaching teens about boat building while helping them to learn to work in cooperation with each other
The new after school program is a joint effort of the middle school and RED8. “We really try to make real world connections with mathematics at West Middle School,” said Pamela Alfieri, principal at the school. “If you look at best practices … they want you to have real world connections.”