Holley’s Geometry in Construction allows students to apply math to building project

Photos by Kristina Gabalski: Holley students work together to clean up and put away materials as the school day draws to a close while they worked on a building project on Monday.

By Kristina Gabalski, Correspondent Posted 5 April 2017 at 4:45 pm

Learning to use power tools is part of the experience offered by the Geometry in Construction class. Here, Tim Rogers guides a student working with a power drill.

Photos by Kristina Gabalski

HOLLEY – There is no lack of enthusiasm in the Geometry in Construction class at Holley Middle School/High School.

“It’s a fun class, it makes the end of the day more fun,” said sophomore Amanda Valerio.

Amanda said she loves math, but was uncertain early in the year how the class would work.

“Now I know I definitely can do both,” she said of the hands-on, as well as the textbook side of the class.

This is the first year the class has been offered and is structured to help students learn how math concepts can be applied to real-world problems to create solutions. Skills learned may open the doorway to future jobs or help them maintain or build their own homes someday.

“It’s cool, we get both the math side and the construction side,” freshman Mikaela Auch says.

Sophomore Elijah Stanton gives the teachers of the class, Tim Rogers and Russ Albright, much praise.

“They are the best,” Elijah said.

All 13 students in the class have pitched-in on their main construction project – a service project creating a small house for Second Wind Cottages in Newfield, NY, a rescue mission which provides one-man shelters for homeless men as they work to turn their lives around.

Members of the Holley Middle School/High School Geometry in Construction class raise the wall of a small house Monday afternoon. The class is being offered this year for the first time and mixes Regents Geometry with real-life construction skills. The house will be donated to Second Wind Cottages in Newfield, NY.

“The home is going for a good cause,” Valerio said of the project. “We don’t want to mess it up.”

The class began raising walls on Monday afternoon and students are working to mount the structure on a wooden base they also constructed. They will then learn to panel the interior walls.

In early May, the class will transport the small home in sections to the grounds of Second Wind Cottages where it will be re-assembled and anchored on a concrete pad. They will complete the project on site.

Teacher Tim Rogers – in yellow construction hat – works to set the newly raised wall in place. The class learned while working Monday afternoon that the plans provided to them did not exactly match the wooden base of the structure, but Rogers says such “things happen” in construction, and it is not unusual to have to come up with alternate solutions when difficulties arise.

The fact the small house is going to someone in need gives the students an added sense of purpose and accomplishment.

“We have used a lot of math concepts and it is cool someone will live in this,” Mikaela Auch said.

Tim Rogers and Russ Albright, along with the students, say the class has bonded students who might otherwise have not worked together.

Tim Rogers holds a model of the small house the class is building. Students teamed up to make the model, which involved learning and utilizing the geometry concepts of ratio and proportion.

“I’ve learned a lot of people skills,” Elijah Stanton said. “It’s good to learn the construction side, there are many valuable skills.”

He said several students are now thinking about careers in construction, something they never considered before.

Rogers and Albright said construction is a growing field in need of good workers including people such as masons and plumbers.

The students will take the NYS Geometry Regents in June.

“We have to cover the same material as traditional Geometry classes,” Tim Rogers said. “The Geometry in Construction class brings more real-life situations to students.”

The hope is that the class may help students who typically struggle with Geometry learn more easily.

Both Rogers and Albright said they feel the class is going very well. They say in addition to math and construction skills, the class also builds teamwork and leadership skills, so vital to the real-world workforce.

“They have to work as a team,” Rogers said, “and they have done that.”

“They find the skills they are best at and that helps them become leaders,” Russ Albright explained. “They become leaders as they become comfortable with the tools.”

Rogers and Albright say they are looking for a similar construction-related service project for next year’s class and hope it might even be in Orleans County. They have had some difficulty finding a project near home due to a number of issues including insurance and the age of the students, but they are open to suggestions from the community.  They could also continue with Second Wind Cottages in the future, they said.

Members of the Geometry in Construction class work to stabilize a newly raised wall on a small house they are building for the homeless.

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