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WHS Students Share a New Perspective and Understanding of Math Through Historical Exploration

If you are building a treehouse and ladder, what will you need to use? Wood, saw, hammer, and tools, might be the first things that come to mind. But if you ask a student in Mr. Ramos’ geometry classes, they’ll tell you something else that’s required - math.

What started out as an extra-credit assignment for Mr. Ramos’ class turned into a group project that delved deeper into the topic of geometry. Students, working in four separate groups, created a video that captured their assignments and demonstrated the knowledge gained in the process. The students presented their final product at a Mini Math Fair to an audience of their peers on Monday. “It's a chance for students to demonstrate what they've learned in class and make some real-world connections,” said Mr. Ramos. “I had them do a video because that is how students live today - that’s their generation. Rather than writing a 5-page paper, I wanted them to work together, get creative, and be sure everyone had a role in communicating about what they learned.”

Topics, which groups could choose from a list, included The Golden Ratio, Pythagoras theorem, the ancient pyramids, and ancient Greek geometry that included the work of Eratosthenes - the mathematician and philosopher. Each group was able to speak at length about not only their topic but how these discoveries from centuries ago are still relevant today. They were all surprised about the accuracy of the ancient theories and techniques, even in our modern world.

“Seeing how geometry is used so often to build structures, and some really incredible ones like the pyramids,” said Chloe Fuentes, who chose to study pyramids. “It makes me think about math differently, and it makes me more open to learning it.”

So, back to the original question at the beginning of this article. What do you need to use to build a ladder for a treehouse? Julie Samel will tell you, specifically, the Pythagoras theorem because you’ll need it to know what size ladder to build based on the angle of the branch and the tree trunk. “I love it when I get the question: ‘when will we ever use this?’” said Mr. Ramos. “I’m just waiting for it because I have the answer.”

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