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Creative Mathematics

By | September 13, 2017

There is a buzz in the Year 9 Mathematics class, 9G, as the girls take on a new creative project. As part of a measurement unit, Mathematics Teacher, Mrs Alison Gonscak, challenged the girls to design a dream house.


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The project brief stipulated that each house must include specific shapes and the designers needed to indicate the number of rooms and how many people will live there. The girls started by producing scale drawings by hand and then worked online in a programme called Homestyler as a fun way to bring their designs to life.

The brief seemed like a dream in itself to begin with as there was no budget or size restraints. However, there was a twist. As the project progressed, Mrs Gonscak added more steps. The girls were tasked with calculating the area of each room. From these measurements they were able to estimate the cost of flooring, tiling, paint and skirting boards based on products and prices they researched online. The girls are currently busy estimating water usage to work out the required size and dimensions of a hot water cylinder.

Mrs Gonscak says she looks for opportunities that add breadth to the Year 9 curriculum by adding Level 1 and 2 extension tasks such as cubic volume conversions.

Specifically in the dream house project, the girls calculated room volumes so they could recommend a heat pump with a sufficient capacity.

As Mrs Gonscak added more complexity, the girls with the largest dream houses found themselves with more work to do.

One student, Emma Dixon, was motivated to spend hours outside the classroom to fully understand the Homestyler programme. Emma’s design has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a huge kitchen, two living areas, a rumpus room, games room, gym, pool, spa and dog shed.

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“The girls have shown passion and focus during the project. Their creativity and interior design has been amazing,” Mrs Gonscak says.

Creative thinking is inspired by bringing a new perspective and changing the pace of teaching and learning. By applying Mathematics to real world problems we are switching girls onto learning and firing up their imaginations.

As psychologist and creative thinking expert Edward de Bono said, “Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.”

Andrea Jackson, Communications and Marketing Coordinator


The girls really enjoyed the project and gave the following feedback:

“The Dream House project is a great way to learn measurement and have fun in mathematics. We were all very engaged and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only is it fun but it can be modified to work for many different levels. The way Mrs Gonscak added extra challenges really kept us on our toes.”

Charlotte MacFarquhar

“I really enjoyed the process we went through to make our houses – the drafts, the scale drawing, and being able to scan it to the Homestyler website and design and decorate the houses to our liking. I think it was cool to incorporate different shapes and figure out the areas for them.”

Amy Alexander

“I found the programme we used to generate a 3D version of the house a good challenge. I think that it gave me a perspective of what we would have to take into account for the future when we think about building houses.”

Isobel Ham

“The Dream House Project was a great opportunity for me because I am interested in becoming an architect and it gave me an insight into what it would be like. I struggled with the original planning because of the odd shapes, but it provided me with opportunities to problem solve.”

Lilly Powell

“The project has been really fun and using the Homestyler website to make the house in 3D was really interesting. I particularly enjoyed decorating the house.”

Phoebe Burns

“The dream house project is an exciting assessment that challenged our class in a positive way.”

Emma Dixon