project-based learning

Project-Based Learning in Your Geometry Classroom

Project-based learning is a great instructional approach for many subjects. Engage your geometry students with PBL activities.

Project-based learning can work just as well for teaching geometry as for economics or earth science. Project-based learning is loosely defined as a teaching strategy that focuses on developing tactile student experiences rather than memorization of materials. Ideally, project-based learning promotes critical thinking by presenting students with interesting challenges that stimulate their curiosity and help them to develop real world problem-solving skills.

Try these project-based learning activities with your geometry students to spark their interest in and deepen their understanding of complex geometric concepts.

1. Fun With Fractals

project-based learningTeams of students can learn about the geometry of fractals by building a structure made from marshmallows and toothpicks. Fractals are never-ending loops of self-repeating patterns. This project-based learning activity provides a good opportunity for students to work together as a team. Building a fractal will take careful planning, and students should sit down with a page of graph paper to design the structure before they begin assembling it.

2. The Flatland Chronicle

The classic book Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott tells the story of inhabitants of a two-dimensional world where the characters are all geometric figures. Students will create a newspaper for Flatland that contains at least four sections: sports, arts and culture, breaking news, etc. In the newspaper, they will describe the daily lives of the residents of Flatland and how these geometric figures interact.

3. Modular Origami

project-based learningThe Mathematical Association of America has an article about using origami to teach geometry to design students. This project-based learning exercise is an especially useful way to address students who are visual learners. It’s also very adaptable for students of various levels. Origami projects can be altered to suit learners in elementary school all the way through college. The Scholastic blog also has a few interesting ideas for origami projects.

4. Advertisement Proofs

This activity is meant to help geometry students develop a better understanding of logical proofs. Ask them to find 5-10 different advertisements, whether on television, radio, or in print media. Ask them to identify what the advertisement wants the reader or listener to do, then have students write “if, then” statements for each example. A potential statement might read something along the lines of, “If I decide to fly on this airline, I will receive superior service.”

5. Lines of Symmetry

project-based learningHave students take a photograph of something natural. It might be a landscape, animal, or human face. Print the photographs and use a ruler to cut them exactly in half. Next, students will create a grid across the remaining half of the photograph to guide them in their task of painting a symmetrical second half. This project-based learning exercise presents an opportunity to explain symmetry, a concept fundamental to geometry, in depth.

Want to find out more about project-based learning? Read on for more information about project-based learning in:
Earth Science
Middle School Science


The Fractal Foundation
The Mathematical Association of America
Department of Mathematics, University of Utah

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Leah Dearborn

Leah Dearborn is a freelance writer based in the Boston area. A graduate of the journalism program at University of Massachusetts–Amherst, she spends her time writing about science, history, and books.

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