Geometry and the Homeless

This week I had the pleasure of writing a short note about my Geometry students’ spring project for my school’s newsletter. I thought I would include that below (as well as some pictures that weren’t included in the newsletter). I’ll provide a full write up here upon the completion of the semester.

Regents School of Austin eNewsletter

Regents high school students are partnering with a local ministry to apply their math skills. Please read this inspiring story from Mr. Josh Wilkerson. He is one of our math teachers in the School of Rhetoric.

~ Rod Gilbert, Head of School

1 Peter 4:10 commands us: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

I use this foundational truth as the basis to address that customary question of the high school mathematics classroom: When am I ever going to use these math concepts? God instilled a mathematical gift into every human being, enabling humanity to fulfill the purposes of the Great Commandment (to love our neighbors) and the Great Commission (to take the good news to all people). How might we employ our “math-mindedness” in serving others as the Apostle Peter commands?

Mobile Loaves and Fishes (MLF) ministers to the homeless community here in Austin. They recently purchased a tract of land on which they plan to construct an affordable living community for the chronically homeless called Community First. The acreage includes space for trailers, RVs, micro-homes designed by University of Texas architecture students, a large garden with animals, a workshop, chapel, and a medical facility all in the hopes of being a self-sustaining community. The vision of Community First seeks to overcome the homeless mindset and demonstrate that home is more than a physical structure. Home is relationships and far more than just a roof.

MLF graciously allowed our freshman geometry class to participate with them in this project. They have asked our students to utilize their understanding of geometry by designing an awning for RVs. These awnings provide shade and protection to the roof of the RV but it is also creative and energy efficient. Furthermore, these awnings contribute to the mission of MLF in developing relationships and fostering true community.

This past Monday the students visited the MLF Community First project site so they could see the immediate fruit of their labor. The students spent time hearing directly from MLF representatives about their vision and their heart for the homeless, and also about the very real need they have in their design process that the students can meet. There were many questions asked, many measurements taken, and then more questions asked. The MLF representatives were very accommodating and thrilled to see the excitement that the students of Regents had over this opportunity. At the end of the project, these same MLF representatives will travel to Regents to hear the presentation of each team of students and then select a winning design.

As their teacher, I marvel at these students as they mature to understand that learning has NO meaning unless it produces a sustained and substantial influence not only on the way people think, but also on how they act, feel, worship, and serve. I am excited to see what the remainder of this semester holds.

Josh Wilkerson
SOR Mathematics Appreciation Teacher
Appreciating AP Statistics and Geometry
www.GodandMath.com

Additional Pictures Not Included in the Newsletter:

Students hearing a presentation from MLF
Students hearing a presentation from MLF
Discussing layout with Dave Sekel of MLF
Discussing layout with Dave Sekel of MLF
Students analyzing the RV that they will design an awning for
Students analyzing the RV that they will design an awning for
Analyzing EVERY component of the RV
Analyzing EVERY component of the RV
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