Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Sometimes I swear it's amazing that I don't get asked to leave stores.  "I'm a teacher" seems to be enough of an explanation to explain my strange behavior.

This week I plan to have a couple of my classes start work on a unit involving geometry with some other stuff mixed in.  The project they're going to work on is one of my favorites that I've ever come up with.  I think I actually did this one my first or second year and it has continued to evolve since then.

The idea is fairly simple, take an apartment floorplan and calculate the cost to install new flooring.  When I created the project it was important to me that everything was as realistic as possible.  Actually this is always important to me.  So I created a price list that included the actual cost for various carpets, hardwoods and tiles.  The kids have always gotten fairly into the project.  Apparently they enjoy getting to play interior designer as much as I do.

When I started the project (teaching 7th grade), the rooms were fairly simple.  They were all rectangles. A couple years later I made it more challenging and created a more complex layout that involved many more irregular shapes, made up of various rectangles and triangles.  This year I decided to add more so that it will require using the Pythagorean Theorem as well.

One page from an awesome one that a kid did a couple years ago.

The other new addition that is going to make it way more awesome is this:

I went to Home Depot to check out if maybe they had a brochure or price list or something because I was thinking it was time to update the old one and make it even more realistic.  The prices were all real on what I had created, but it was clear that it wasn't a store brochure or anything.  I was also thinking about maybe asking for any old samples they might have.

Well consider my surprise when I found out that they had free samples of EVERYTHING.  That I could just take.  For free.  I didn't even know where to start.

This is part of the vinyl section with the samples underneath.

Some of the Martha Stewart carpet samples

Very quickly I had filled my bag and had way more than I could carry so I picked up some plastic storage containers and walked around filling them.

I also grabbed (and opened) a pack of Sharpies so that I could write the price on the back of each one.

I think they're going to really get a kick out of all the different samples.  Especially comparing the different hardwoods and laminates or the different types of carpeting.  When able to actually hold the samples, it's pretty easy to see how the prices vary based on the quality of each.

I've never done it, but every time I do this project it always crosses my mind to have them set some sort of budget and they try to do the project while staying in budget.  This time I think I'll have them make a rough estimate of how much it would cost.

This year I also plan to have them calculate the cost to paint all of the walls too.

So although it may not seem like that complicated of an idea, some of the things that I've worked into the project are

  • converting rates
  • using ratios & proportions
  • the Pythagorean theorem
  • scale factors and scale drawings
  • irregular area
  • surface area
  • perimeter
  • percent change

I like this project because the kids usually get fairly into it and it's a real life task.  Although my 7th graders weren't going to be flipping any houses soon or anything, I thought maybe it would be something they'd do at some point.  And they really enjoyed it.

This year though I'm even more excited.  I teach at a vocational school so for some my students something like this is something that is similar to actual things they might be doing.  This is the kind of stuff that my kids are so talented with so I think they might really run with it.  For them I think it's also especially important that I work as hard as possible to make things realistic because they will know if it's not and won't take me seriously.

I got a good amount of vinyls, laminates, hardwoods and carpets in varying quality and prices.  I really also want to include tiles, but they didn't seem to have free samples of those so I'll have to keep looking around.  
Floorplan download
Rubric download

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