New RHS class aims to build a house

Dec 19, 2012 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Riverton High School students looking for an alternative to their traditional math classes may be interested in a new "geometry in construction" course coming next year.

Through the class, students will work to construct a home for Wind River Habitat for Humanity, an organization that provides housing for needy families in the area.

RHS assistant principal John Griffith said the real-world application of geometry should help more students feel engaged in math.

"We're going to complete and deliver a house our students have built and can be proud of," he said during a Fremont County School District 25 Board of Trustees meeting. "Ten to 15 years from now our kids will be able to drive by there and say, 'I had a part in that; I built that in high school.'"

The home will be placed on Riverton's old hospital site at East Park Avenue and North 12th Street East.

Griffith said his geometry in construction students will have the opportunity to earn three college credits through Central Wyoming College, which should help encourage members of the class to seek a post-secondary education.

"We want to see more students taking dual credit (courses)," he said. "I think the more opportunities we provide, the more (students will be) reaching that college and career readiness goal."

Schools that use the new geometry curriculum have recorded increased test scores for enrolled students, Griffith said, adding that the class also attracts more female students.

In Loveland, Colo., female enrollment in geometry classes grew from 22 percent to 51 percent after the new course was introduced.

"That's another goal we have," Griffith said. "There is still a sizeable gender gap at the high school. Though it's decreasing, it's something we're working on. This will allow us to close that gap even further."

Loveland officials also told Griffith that students are more likely to be engaged in class, because they can't start working on construction projects until they finish their geometry problems. They also learn about cooperation and communication because they work as a team to finish building one home.

Instructors Jeremy McCormick and Len Abernathy will teach the class in a two-period block so students have more time to get their work done, Griffith said. Students will spend time inside of the classroom and at a work site on campus, where the building will be constructed before it is moved to the old hospital property.

"We'll set up the geometry classroom that's kind of right around the corner from the workshop," Griffith said. "I'm hoping we'll cut down on their travel time and cleanup. We'll try to maximize those two hours as best we can."

He said the Habitat for Humanity group will provide construction materials, while school officials and students are expected to supply labor and tools. Funding will come through a $65,000 grant that will pay for supplies and a tool shed as well as professional development for McCormick and Abernathy.

Members of the school board applauded Griffith's effort to bring the curriculum to Riverton.

"We have to impact our students," board chairman Carl Manning said. "Getting them excited about a hands-on potential learning experience and those learning techniques is going in the right direction."

The board officially accepted the grant during a meeting Tuesday, Nov. 13.

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