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# Using Scale to Build 3-D Models

By Stacey Burt on January 12, 2010

My students love experimenting with scale (ratios). While we don’t have a lot of time to devote to this, students find this to be one of the more interesting projects we complete this year. They are very excited to construct three dimensional models of their bedrooms based on a 1 inch to 1 foot scale (1:12 ratio).

I have found that students generally understand scale quite well with hands-on projects. I introduce the concept of scale by having the students work in groups to create a blueprint of their dream classroom. I find it help to use the 1 inch grid chart paper that can be found at any office supply store. The large tablets usually have 50 sheets per chart, so this purchase should last a couple years. Pictures for today’s post are of this initial activity. Given free reign the students really needed more planning time than I had anticipated. Two days seems to be what it has taken my students to complete this part of the mini unit. After this activity, students are given directions/guidelines for creating a 3-D model of their bedrooms complete with furniture to scale (and whatever else they may want to include…to scale of course).

Because students are often taught how to manipulate scale in a manner that is going from something larger to smaller, it’s good to have students reverse the application. By giving students an architect’s blueprints (or just a simple floor plan for a house, which can be easily found on the internet) students can use stakes and yarn or string to going to the playground and see if they can map out the floor plan of the blueprint. Students are very proud of the end result, and I must admit, it is quite impressive.

The resource that I use for this activity is the book on Measurement from the Navigation Series published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. This series is an incredible resource for teachers of all grades. The hands-on projects and application of math skills just can’t be beat (in my opinion). Definitely worth the purchase! What’s more is that the students really love ANYTHING that doesn’t come from the textbook or a worksheet.

Next week I will post images of the completed 3-D bedroom models. Please feel free to share you ideas on teaching scale. I always love new ideas. Have a wonderful week!

Be sure to check out Using Scale to Build 3-D Models: Part 2.

Cheers-

Stacey