“Are we going to be able to finish our project today?”
At Baldwin Road Junior High, STEM shines in The Foundry, a dedicated makerspace led by Sandra Guinto. At 9:30AM, she and 16 eighth graders were excited to finish up their group projects.
From the first day of school, Art of Math is directed by student interests. “I try to find projects that they want to do,” Guinto said, so she gave the reins over to students from the outset. Through collaboration and problem based learning, they cover math standards while using equipment in The Foundry.
Students toured the entire school, noting observations along the way, looking for ways that they could improve life at Baldwin Road. They came up with a variety of ideas, then whittled it down to one. “The cafeteria’s extremely plain,” one student explained, “there’s nothing to do if it’s raining outside.” Guinto went with it, then issued the student’s assignment for the first part of the year. Students must work in teams to make an activity to liven up the lunchroom when they can’t go outside for recess.
Groups settled on large format games to hang on the walls of the cafeteria. They all had to use a large black wooden frame to mount their games on, but were free to make every other decision as a group. Teams made a huge abacus, a plinko board, and a large scale Connect-Four game. The final group of seven students worked together to create an elaborate basketball arcade game, going above and beyond the prompt. They had already hung it on the wall of the cafeteria, and were excitedly showing it off.
“It started off on the floor, just tape,” Souleymane explained. They measured the tape to determine how much PVC pipe they would need to complete the project. Another team member, Markez, rattled off their list of supplies: PVC pipes, screws, zip ties, net, glue, basketball hoops, and metal clamps.
The team members all enjoyed the freedom of Art of Math. From developing a project from to the ground up to spending time with friends, they nearly forgot that they were learning math along the way. “You don’t work,” Markez said, “you, like, collaborate.”
Everyone is looking forward to a lively lunchroom in the coming winter.
“If you’re bored and you have nothing to do, you can just come over here, shoot some hoops, you know,” Souleymane chuckled, “practice on your game!”