An educational blog for teachers and students.

Math and Architecture

Objective: Students will see the relationship between architecture and math, understand the importance of inventions to humanity and be able to relate math and architecture to their school and home. Finally, the students should present their findings in a manner useful and understandable to others, thus requiring elements of problem solving and critical thinking.

Overview: Students will create a presentation showing the development of architecture and building in a location relevant to their grade level and social studies curriculum. This activity will allow them to use a variety of intelligences and technology and to combine fine arts and math in a dynamic way. The teacher must explore the resources provided before starting to write a specific objective for this lesson. Everything from geometry to career education is a possibility, as well as the basics of creating of graphs, tables and presentations.

Duration: This lesson can take up to a week.

Tools and Resources:
Software: Real Audio-Real One Player (downloadable)
Hardware: Tape recorder, computer, Internet connection

Web Sites:
Teacher Resources:

  • Main site with a complex list of resources. Teachers must spend time at this site to locate and define those alternatives that would be appropriate for the grade level. Visit Web site
  • Architecture timeline of inventions and great buildings Visit Web site
  • Architectural style visual encyclopedia Visit Web site

Student Resources:

Preparation: The teachers must review the sites and make decisions as to whether or not to use the Real Audio segment, what is the nature of the learning and subject matter that would be appropriate, and time considerations.

Procedure:

  1. Ask students to think about and draw the types of structures in their lives.
  2. Next have them measure the classroom to get an idea of size.
  3. Finally, give a homework assignment to measure distances in their house that include doors, windows, their room, garage and vehicle. Students need this knowledge to understand the human element of architecture.
  4. Have students work with a partner to measure their height. Next they will measure the distance between their fingertips with their hands extended outward, which should equal their height. Use this information to open a discussion of why buildings need to be user-friendly based on ergonomics. Consider discussing the importance of steel, elevators, electric lights and water pumps to buildings.
    Options:
    1. Decide at this point whether to explore various architects and styles or simply to concentrate on the creation of a table or graph from the material presented. Give students a country or state or time period, and ask them to create the structures or chart them in terms of height.
    2. Give students the musical instrument site and ask them to download sounds of certain links and relate them to the height of a building.
    3. Students with greater needs may simply do a large butcher sheet presentation or create smaller models. Use the timeline of buildings for this group.
    4. Advanced students can create a correlated graph of buildings around the world, write an essay on the needs for skyscrapers and human population growth, or study various architects. Ask students to use ratios, percentages, and basic graph skills as they pertain to your standards.
    5. Have students measure school buildings and rooms and complete a chart indicating which are the largest; have them write a paper on why that might be the case. Or, have them make a video of the school and explain elements of architecture.
    6. Students could even use a tape recorder to supply a longer note to designate taller buildings and a shorter note for those with less height. The ratio could be one second for so many feet or a certain note could be selected. The students listening could be listening to the sound, measuring its length, converting it to feet or meters, and creating a graph of the heights of various buildings. Even the sounds of musical instruments native to the countries where the buildings were located could be used.

Other Possible Integration: If a student in the fourth grade is studying California history, the teacher may elect to restrict the architecture study to that place and time period.

Comments: This is an elaborate lesson with a great many variables. Students can use divergent thinking skills to explore everything from the influence of climate on building to careers. The unit is designed to be heavily integrated into a variety of subjects and to promote multiple intelligences opportunities.

For an expanded lesson, students might want to make a visual presentation of the school's architecture, or even of the schools in the district.