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Back to School Tetrahedron Project at San Marin High School

At San Marin High School in Novato, Calif. back to school preparations include all the normal lesson planning and administrative requirements – plus 510 mailing tubes and a Doceri screencast on how to create a tetrahedron.

TetrahedraDuring the first week of school, students in five of San Marin’s math classes will learn about the Sierpinski triangle and create 85 tetrahedra from mailing tubes and string. At the end of the first week of school, students will combine the individual tetrahedra with zip ties to create four 9-foot tetrahedra.

The following Monday during the lunch hour, students will assemble the four pieces into one large structure -two stories high – in the school’s main quad.

“It all began with a discussion with some students, said Kimberly Laabs, San Marin’s math department co-chair. “They were commenting on how boring math was. I see beauty in structure and patterns, and I wanted to find a way to share that with my students.”

Kim has been teaching at San Marin High school in Novato, CA for 10 years. In addition to being co-chair of the math department, she is also lead math teacher for the school’s STEM program.

“I started thinking this was going to be a project for just a couple of my classes, but when I mentioned it to a colleague, she got very excited and we began to see how this could benefit our entire math department getting as many students involved,” she said. “Our principal is fantastic and when I proposed the project to him, he said he would find the funds. My next challenge was how to get all the teachers to understand how it was to be made and how this project could be extended to the classroom. Doceri was the perfect solution.”

Kim has been using Doceri both in her classes, and to create flip classroom screencast videos since January, 2013.

“I knew I wanted to try and flip my math classes and offer support outside of class, but was overwhelmed with the idea of creating video lessons. I had tried some products but was not happy with the results, and others just looked too complicated and time consuming,” she said.

She sent her three adult and quite computer-literate children on a mission to find a product she could use to create lesson videos. All three set out on independent searches and they ALL came back with the recommendation of Doceri for her new iPad.  Today, Kim’s YouTube channel, Laabs Math, is filled with more than 70 tutorials  with nearly 5,000 views not only by her students, but also by students across the country.

The Tetrahedron Project Screencast

Kim created a Doceri screencast to help her fellow teachers get ready for the tetrahedron project. The 20-minute video includes a tutorial on Sierpinski’s triangle, suggestions for how to engage students in discussion and discovery, detailed instructions on how to construct the tetrahedra and the plan for the collaborative construction of the final project.

“My hope is that students will find a way to connect to the structure – to stand within and see aspects of mathematical structure they never saw before,” said Laabs. “It is also a unifying project for our math department and for our entire school.”



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