Sunday, January 22, 2012

Medievil Math Problem

This will just be a short post today...just some thoughts on a multidisciplinary problem.

I am in Edinburgh, Scotland currently...here for the Learning without Frontiers conference in Olympia,UK next week and taking the opportunity to explore prior to the conference. Walked around the city today, which is so beautiful, especially the view from the castle. Just taking in the gorgeous scenery and getting a feel for the incredible history that is here. Quite amazing.

As I climbed the hill to the castle, I couldn't help but be awestruck as I looked up the cliff at the intricate stone wall, built right on the edge of these steep rocks. The natural question is, how the heck did they do this so many hundreds of years ago, especially without the convenience of the modern day construction tools? It's really just mind boggling to think of the sheer man power, time, and mathematics that went into constructing this castle. Yes, even on vacation, I have to think about the math!

So... For those math teachers out there, struggling to find some real world math problems to engage your students, head to the castles! A great interdisciplinary activity in fact....history, math, physics, english. How did they do it? How many years? How many stones and what tools did they use? Where did the tools and supplies come from? What were the reasons behind the design? If we were to build the castle today using modern tools, how long would it take? There are so many questions that could lead to not only learning in multiple content areas, but could also incorporate the use of technology in a variety of ways, such as research or virtual tours.

Just some thoughts as I close the day here in Scotland and get ready for another adventure tomorrow.

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