Geometry students design 21st century library for Henry Clay

Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Friday, May 12, 2017

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In scaling down the library, the students dealt with ratio and proportion.

In scaling down the library, the students dealt with ratio and proportion.

In scaling down the library, the students dealt with ratio and proportion.The freshmen presented their proposals to classmates via PowerPoint and scale drawings.Several suggested their library needs newer, faster computers.Students developed timelines, budgets, calculations pages, diagrams, and posters showing their proposed additions.The class also helped create the rubric their teacher used in scoring their oral presentations. For instance, audience participation was expected.

Whenever Henry Clay High School is renovated, students hope some of their fresh ideas are incorporated in the expanded media center. The Advanced Geometry classes proposed fairly substantial changes to modernize their school’s library and transform it into a 21st century learning environment. 

“My initial image was a place where students can work independently. Then I had to imagine what others really want and need in a library,” said freshman Hannah Miller. 

“It helped me see things differently – not just my perspective, but for everyone,” added classmate Nolan Doss. “This helped me think what I could do to make this space better.” 

Among the suggestions were mobile furniture and comfortable chairs, dry-erase tables for brainstorming in teams, portable shelving units and more books, and charging stations for various devices. A few teens also recommended new color schemes or murals to feature student artwork, as well as a hot beverage station for more of a café feel. One student even proposed installing several aquariums, including a vertical fish tank embedded in a support column. 

Near the start of the semester, the students took a field trip to three local libraries to find inspiration – at the University of Kentucky, at the Lexington Public Library’s central location, and at Tates Creek High School, which has a café. 

“They spent time exploring and seeing different options and then got to work,” said math teacher Sarah Zehnder. “They got to decide how they interpret the question ‘What’s a 21st century library?’”

This project called for students to use various geometry skills as they calculated surface area, accounted for three-dimensional structures, and dealt with ratio and proportion. They then showed their work, both for the teacher and their classmates. 

“We took measurements from wall to wall and scaled down the library to make it fit on paper. We did it on graph paper so every two blocks equaled one foot,” Nolan said in describing the scale drawings. 

Zehnder, along with library media specialists Amanda Hurley and Felica White, served as resources throughout the assignment. “Guided inquiry is a process for how to do these kinds of projects. We give students a lot of materials and information, and then it’s up to them to design their projects how they see fit,” Zehnder explained. “I want them and their creativity to shine out.” 

Her students responded with detailed timelines, researched budgets, calculations pages, PowerPoints, and scale models, drawings, and diagrams. On the calculations page, for example, a student would note the square footage, total gallons of paint needed, and the estimated cost. They also helped develop the rubric Zehnder used in scoring their oral presentations.

“They’re using geometry to redesign and make the space better,” said Superintendent Manny Caulk, who stopped by during one class. “It increases the effectiveness and use of this space.”

Did you know? 

Henry Clay High School is due for a major overhaul, including expansion of its media center. It’s listed in the latest District Facilities Plan, which prioritizes construction and renovation projects in Fayette County Public Schools.


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