As some of you may be aware I have been teaching a maths unit this semester, which although is out of my usual subject area of Phys Ed, Is probably shaping up to be one of my favourite classes. The unit is called ‘Space and Measurement’ and basically focuses on teaching perimeter, area and volume with a really strong emphasis on making the lessons hands on. With that last point in mind Ive tried to steer clear of the traditional approach to teaching maths and have moved towards running activities that get my students outside the classroom walls measuring and practising their maths skills in real world situations. 

I’ve also introduced a variety of tools into the class such as Google Earth Nintendo DS and more recently Google Sketchup.  The later tool has shown excellent potential in teaching a unit such as ‘Space and Measurement. For those unfamiliar Google sketchup  basically it is a FREE software that you can use to create 3D models of anything you like.  On first glance you think that it would be extremely hard to use, but it has been designed so that people of all skill levels can use it effectively. After a couple of lessons completing some of the ‘New User Tutorials’ that can be found on youtube your students will be able to build some really cool models. Given my students are now up to this very point, I will be completing a variation to a Maths test inside Google Sketchup that will test their knowledge and understanding of area, perimeter and volume. Here is the idea;

  1. Using Google Sketchup I will design a variety of 3D shapes such as triangles, squares, rectangles and composite shapes.
  2. All of the shapes will be scattered across the modelling surface and be labelled with numbers.
  3. The sketchup file will be saved and students will be given a copy along with a worksheet with numbers matching the amount of shapes
  4. They will then need to use the ‘tape measure’ tool to measure the different shapes inside Google Sketchup and based on these measurments work out the perimeter, area and volume of the shapes recording their answers on the worksheet.
  5. Still not sure ? Checkout the video below for a run through of first 4 steps

So what do you think? Does this idea have merit and would it allow my students to demonstrate their understanding of perimeter, area and volume in a more meaningful and engaging way?