Unit 1 of 8th-grade math using Illustrative Mathematics is all about geometric transformations. Reflections, Rotations, Translations, and Dilations are the name of the game. Design-thinking in 3D is all about moving and changing shapes on a 3-axis coordinate system. This extends the 2-axis coordinate moves required for the 8th-grade standard.
Giving students the opportunity to make and create physical representations of their designs encourages buy-in and dedication. Students in class are excited and created some truly great work.
We started out using Tinkercad to do some basic designs with the goal of Creating Your House. We talked about how this could mean a copy of the house you live in. It could also mean the house that you want to live in. This could also just mean the house that you want to design. Students took this to mean many things and several designs went through multiple iterations.
We then progressed into using TinkerCad code blocks. This gives students a chance to use the Scratch code to create directly using the same geometric transformations that we used in the math corriculum.
The ability to watch in real-time exactly what transformations do is a great way to build confidence through discovery and experimentation.
This project was also a great way to get to know a little more about students. One student said they would love to live in a hobbit house, so he built a house with a big round hobbit door.
Another student wanted to travel so they designed a crayon-powered RV to travel in.
Another student wanted to focus on having a nice porch for a place to sit outside and read.
And because middle schoolers will be middle schoolers one of them made... Poop.
At the end of the project, every student had a way to be successful. Some chose more standard Tinkercad, and some chose more Code Blocks, but everyone made something to be proud of.
One house was made for a pet snake to live inside.
Overall, this project was very successful. Integrating Code-Blocks into the project did a great job of tieing it even more deeply into the necessary math standards.
There were some great comments from students such as "Why aren't we doing math yet?" Another student said, "Shouldn't we be practicing Rotations and Translations instead of playing with Tinkercad?" While they were performing rotations and translations with Tinkercad.
Learning is happening, and it is amazing to watch.