Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#MTBoSBlaugust Day 1: Triangle Concurrency & Food Deserts

Happy Blaugust! If you're reading this and not participating, I highly encourage it! I've been on a blogging hiatus since February and I can honestly say I'm a better teacher when I'm writing. It's my second Blaugust and I can think of few things that get me more prepared and excited to go back to school! I can't wait to reflect more for myself and steal all of your wonderful ideas, MTBoS!

It's been 2 years since my days in a STEM Magnet School, writing interdisciplinary PBL's on the regular to submit to our $3,000,000 federal grant. Having the pressure off and not needing to write these monthly was a relief at first, but I slowly started to miss it. The idea of a geometry project married to the concept of food deserts has been kicking around in my mind for years, since I first learned what a food desert was. I loved that it was real world, community based, and gave kids an opportunity to interact with actual government officials.

I did a test run this year, where I had students discover the properties of points of concurrency in this context, without the added "project" element. It looked a little like this...

And every kid came to the same solution- build at the circumcenter of the region, since it was equidistant from each vertex.  I was surprised by this....I actually thought there'd be more debate, especially since every student had suggested a different triangular region near their house.

Knowing that I won't be teaching Geometry this year, I wanted to pass on the full project I've drafted to someone who could either use it or adapt it and make it better.

This lesson is in a 5E(ish) format- I'm working on a graduate certificate in STEM Leadership and I wrote this for a class I just finished. Throughout the "Engage" process, I used this video to help students see what a food desert is and the experience of someone who lives in one:

I then utilized the USDA's Food Access Research Atlas and Google Maps to identify local food deserts (which was actually prevalent in my district, which is perceived to be affluent by many outside the community). As you can see from the map here, these exist throughout the country, and not just in urban or predominantly minority neighborhoods. Students tied in their study of biology and body systems by researching the short and long term side effects of poor nutrition. Finally, they conclude by writing a report to send to local city council suggesting a new location for a community resource and giving a strong mathematical justification of the location. While some local governments might just ignore these, I've working in districts before where local politicians made a point to either write back or come speak to students about their proposals to make them feel validated and help them see the importance of participating in local government. And let's be honest- my first graduating class from the STEM school got a patent on a project from their freshman year, so I see no limit to where this type of real world project could take our kids.


  1. This looks like a great project...even just the math part if you don’t work as part of a PBL group. Thanks for sharing! My friend is starting up a PBL at her school so I sent this along to her too.

    1. Awesome! If you wind up implementing in any way, feel free to let me know any feedback!