Sketchup Blog - News and Notes from the Sketchup folks

The Four R's: Reading, 'Riting, 'Rithmatic, R-chitecture

Earlier this year, Google exhibited at Channel 13's Celebration of Teaching and Learning in New York, NY. I had the opportunity to demo Google SketchUp and meet hundreds of enthusiastic educators - exactly the types of energetic, creative folks that you would want shaping your kids' minds. One of those teachers was Michele Macloud, Instructional Technology Coordinator at Prairieville Middle School in Ascension, Louisiana. Michele watched a demo of SketchUp for the first time and imagined gobs of possibilities. She left the booth assuring me that she would keep me posted. Well, last week I received an email from Michele telling the story of how Prairieville Middle School's 8th graders are using SketchUp to design a new school!

In the few months since I'd seen Michele in New York, Prairieville teacher Sandi Gautreau had been introducing SketchUp to her 8th grade math students. They took it in steps, starting by drawing a dimensionally-accurate model of the classroom. Sandi explained, "Once they learned what they could do and create, they sat and worked. They used trial and error, worked with each other. Students taught each other when they found features of the product. Students asked questions of each other. They were completely engrossed in the application." After developing their SketchUp chops, they began modeling an entire wing of the existing school.

In case you're thinking the students are getting off easy by playing with SketchUp instead of doing "real math", Sandi explains, "Measurement is always a weakness on standardized testing. Students actually went outside and took measurements. They drew objects in SketchUp and were able to compare the scale to the actual measurement."

At that point, the Principal, Ms. Diane Gautreau, and the District Demographics Application Specialist, Mr. Chad Lynch, met with the students. They discussed ideas for a new school, building codes, and what elements to consider to ensure a successful design. Mr. Lynch brought blueprints for an upcoming school to share with students. Armed with this information and their SketchUp skills, students went to work designing a new Prairieville Middle School. Each student chose a different part of the project to design. These parts will be brought together and presented to Principal Gautreau as a design recommendation for a new school.

It looks like Prairieville will have a pretty sweet gymnasium...

Of course, the final word in any classroom-experience belongs to the students. Devin says, "Using SketchUp made math class more interesting". Brittney concurs, "Before this project, math was stressful. It was hard." Kaylyn adds, "Now there is more to look forward to; what I do might be included in the plans for the new school."

And it sounds like Ms. Gautreau may have set Shelby on new a career path, "I learned how architects do their jobs, and it taught me that I could have a career in this field when I get older."

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Guzman said...

Hi, I'm a math teacher in Florence, Italy.

I've been using sketchup to lead 8-grade students to build models of increasing complexity, starting from tables and chairs and reaching complex math models such as truncated icosahedrons.
I cannot explain the whole project here, but I think you may be interested in the following links:

Video with some models
Granacci Sketchup Creations
Video - same project, different class

Guzman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guzman said...

You may find additional details or contact me about this project in our blog.
I forgot to mention I work in Junior High School.