High school students are learning geometry for construction by building tiny houses, and the result is a strong use of their skills while helping a local faith based organization that houses homeless people.

Gayle Piepho is a longtime member of Incarnate Word Parish, and she is a math and physics teacher at Rockwood Summit High School.  She teaches Geometry in Construction, combining math equations and tools for construction. As she listened to the parish’s desire to help homeless people, she realized she had the perfect solution.

“My hand was inching up,” Piepho recalled. “I said, ‘I have two classes that can build these houses.’ It was like, boom — the spirit moved.”

Three homes will be placed by the Tiny Houses Project on a lot in north St. Louis. Several local groups are working together to make the project a reality.

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“Our whole mission is to develop with dignity, and everybody should have a decent place to live,” said Donna Torrillo,  North Grand Neighborhood Services executive director. “Everybody deserves to live in a decent house. If you develop with dignity, everybody will.”

Students are not only learning math, construction, and geometry applications, but also about homelessness and the need to give people stability. “I hope this will give the homeless a chance, and to feel like they’re getting back on track,” said tenth-grader Rachel Menz. “Maybe this will be a chance to live to their potential.”

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