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ERIC Number: EJ1016577
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Feb
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1072-0839
Emerging Engineers Design a Paper Table
Enderson, Mary C.; Grant, Melva R.
Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, v18 n6 p362-369 Feb 2013
With the advancement of specialized middle schools and high schools focusing on the arts, communication, engineering, mathematics, and science, many students who attend traditional schools miss out on valuable learning opportunities--in particular, when it comes to learning mathematics. Mathematics classrooms can be filled with real-world applications and concepts for all learners, regardless of the school environment. When teachers present middle school students with problems grounded in engineering principles, students will become active learners and will view mathematics as stimulating and useful. They will also learn that through mathematics, they can be innovative. The authors present an engineering project called "Paper Table," an investigation into building a sturdy table out of newspaper and cardboard. Engineering design projects provide an environment in which students can be active, inquisitive, and creative. Producing a paper table can lead to explorations of geometry and measurement. Concepts learned include (1) drawing and constructing polygons; (2) using a protractor to measure and draw specific angles in a polygon; (3) finding the areas of polygons; and (4) finding the surface area of three-dimensional figures. The "Paper Table" project challenges students to build a strong table that is 8 inches tall using newspaper, masking tape, and cardboard. The design requirements specify that the table must be sturdy enough to hold a heavy book. From a mathematical point of view, the "Paper Table" project revolves around properties of polygons and mathematical processes and practices. After producing models, students can ponder ways to find the area of the polygons that comprise the legs of the table. The "Paper Table" project gives students a challenge that can increase their interest in mathematics and let them recognize that engineering has many ties to the math that they study and use in class. Such STEM experiences are likely to excite, stimulate, and motivate students. The authors suggest It is time to include engineering projects in the classroom to allow today's students to embark on processes that they can develop into tomorrow's leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A