Local high school students get more out of geometry class

When I took high school geometry I sat in a classroom with a calculator and compass and ultimately I retained little of what I learned.

Students at Ishpeming High School get to experience geometry a little differently. The Geometry in Construction course gets students out of the classroom to apply what they’ve learned at their desks to a real world project.

Nathan McFarren, who co-teaches the class, said, “It’s pretty amazing what the kids are getting out of it, seeing things three-dimensionally as compared to seeing things on a two-dimensional white board or chalk board; seeing a lot of light bulbs go off in this type of program where they need to be hands on, a lot of these students.”

By taking geometry and integrating real world application these students are being given the opportunity to participate in an engaging and comprehensive experience.

“It’s different when it’s on paper,” sophomore Kaitlyn Nebel said. “When you actually see it, when you’re actually constructing it yourself it’s completely different and you’re actually applying it.”

This is the first class of its kind in the state of Michigan and it draws heavily from flagship classes in Colorado and California. In addition to an active learning experience, students can take what they’ve learned beyond the school’s walls.

“People who take this class, they’re going to be set if they want to build anything on a future house or help out a parent, or a grandparent or a friend with a project. It’s going to help you in the long run,” said senior Quinten Niepoth.

McFarren said, “If I had this type of class when I was in high school I would have excelled in both of those occupations and I mean I’ve come a long way in both but I would’ve been able to do a lot more things easier, knowing the geometry concepts and knowing exactly how to measure the right way the first time, every time, rather than doing some guessing and second guessing. These guys are learning some skills that they can take with them this summer if they were to find a job.”

The community has stepped up to help McFarren’s class by donating materials, which has made building the shed that much easier.

The class is expected to grow next year and will serve as the pilot for other classes of its kind across the state.