Orange and Yellow Clusters Re-Shape the Play Deck

Posted on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

Over the past few weeks, Orange and Yellow Cluster students have been putting their knowledge of geometric shapes to the test! The clusters have been working on a project combining math and technology, in which they propose a new design for the Stephen Gaynor School play deck. The hook for the project was “Congratulations! Your cluster was chosen by Dr. Gaynor to redesign the play deck! Use your knowledge of geometry to choose the perfect equipment that will fit in this space.”

The students started the project by calculating the area and perimeter of the play deck to determine the limits of the space in which they were working, and make sure that their designs would fit. The structures needed to be composed of different 3D shapes such as spheres, cones, rectangular prisms, cylinders, etc. Students created their designs using the shapes in Google Slides, and placed the designs on top of an aerial photo of the play deck, to see how the structures would fit within the space.

The project was conceptualized by Math Specialist Rachel Arbesfeld and Science Teacher/Technology Integrator Molli Grady, who had done a similar project with geometry students last year. Ms. Arbesfeld explained that she and Ms. Grady wanted the project to combine math and technology as well as have practical applications, so students can see how geometry operates in the real world, and how they can use their skills and knowledge outside of the classroom. 

Some popular features of the proposed new equipment were ball pits and climbing walls, and other designs included obstacle courses, stepping stones, and even a bowling alley. However, students also needed to keep in mind practicality, and what would be safe for all students who attend Gaynor to use. Students presented their projects to their classrooms first, then the “finalists” were chosen who would pitch their ideas to Dr. Gaynor. The students met with Dr. Gaynor in the North Building conference room, and treated their presentations as seriously as if they were contestants on Shark Tank! Some of the finalists’ designs are featured below: 

After the students’ presentations, Dr. Gaynor said, “I am really impressed. First, your proposals show that you all are terrific geometry students and have a great understanding of the shapes, the sizes, and how they all fit together and make interesting playground equipment, which is a great use of your skills. All of you did a really good job of filling the space, and since there’s not a lot of room, a lot of pieces were flexible, which I’m a big fan of. And you thought about different age uses. There’s something for everybody who uses the play deck, so that is really thoughtful.”