Middle School West students have given new meaning to the word relevance with the construction of a children's playhouse to learn about math this year.

Middle School West students have given new meaning to the word relevance with the construction of a children's playhouse to learn about math this year.

The project was the idea of math teacher Lisa Kelley. She said students have been working on the project all year long, studying math concepts throughout the design phase, including surface area, volume, cost and unit rate, and calculating the cost of supplies.

"The construction and design was all math," she said. "This has real-world relevance."

Kelley started the year by wanting students to work on a Habitat for Humanity house but learned students have to be 16 to work on a Habitat home. Instead of scrapping the whole idea, she decided students could make their own children's playhouse.

The children's playhouse was raffled off at the Gahanna-Jefferson Education Foundation's Celebration of Excellence in March. Kelley said it was fitting to raffle the home because funding from the foundation paid for the project. She said by raffling the house off, the project in essence is funding itself.

One of the skills students improved throughout the year was in working together as a team. They had to cooperate to make sure everything came together properly, Kelley said.

At the beginning of the year, students had to design their dream home and draw it to scale. They had to calculate the area of the home and how much their dream house might cost.

Working in teams of four to five students, they came up with a design for the children's playhouse. After the design was finished, they had to make a presentation so the class could choose a theme.

"There were a lot of heavy math concepts pertaining to this," Kelley said.

School was the theme chosen for the playhouse. The home has chalkboards, dry-erase boards, globes and a sign in front that reads, "School," Kelley said.

After taking the Ohio achievement test, students began the actual construction phase. The house has siding, floors and a roof. Students had to make the right math connections or the house wouldn't come out right, Kelley said.

"Definitely, construction was the most fun," she said. "They are learning practical life skills."

Kelley said the project also had unusual business partnerships. Bradco Supply and Jason Kennedy supplied all of the siding, roof and window materials. Judson Lumber Co. supplied the lumber below cost.

Kennedy said he decided to support the project because his wife is a teacher and he liked Kelley's ability to think outside the box.

"I'm a fairly younger person who thinks outside the box," he said. "I'll find a way to make it happen. I got my boss absolutely 100 percent behind me."

Dan Keiser of Keiser Design Group visited the school and shared with students what an architect does and how math concepts apply to his career.

Neal Clements of URS Corp., an architecture-engineering firm, drew up the plans and made site visits to create the home.

Clements is a graduate student studying architecture at the Ohio State University. He said Kelley asked him to help with the project in January, and he thought it was a good idea. He first visited her class after students designed their own projects.

"I've been helping out during construction," he said. "All the pieces were precut by Jason Kennedy. I helped them put them together."

Clements said that when he was growing up, his dad let him help with projects around the house. Those experiences were helpful for him as an adult so he wanted to pass the same opportunity on to young people.

Student Matthew Naraz said he was excited about the project because his theme was chosen.

"It was my group project that we designed," he said, adding that one of the skills he improved was in working with others.

Jordan Myers' favorite part of the project was in hammering nails and measuring. The most difficult part was in getting the floor in place, he said.

April Scott said her favorite part was the hands-on building.

"You are not sitting in a classroom," she said.

Tiffany Bookulich said she liked building the home but confessed that building it out of Popsicle sticks, toothpicks and cardboard was a little challenging. Still, she said, she liked the theme chosen for the house.

"It was really creative," she said, even though her Sponge Bob design wasn't chosen.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com