Bear Canyon Farm Offers Practical Geometry Lesson

November 15, 2019 | Education | Seth Ellis

The Bear Canyon Farm at Mount Ellis Academy (MEA) in Bozeman, Mont., is a ready source for practical mathematical problem solving. It's evident when you speak with farm managers Katie and Eric Harris that they are as passionate about growing young minds as they are fruits and vegetables.

In geometry class we have been studying the properties of quadrilaterals, so when Katie told me they have a greenhouse plot to lay out, I knew it was a perfect application for math class. I supplied the class with metric rulers, and Eric Harris gave them the needed dimensions in feet.

Jace Wyatt explains, "Converting the metric units to feet was interesting and a challenge." At one point, the students recognized their conversion was giving them an incorrect measurement. This miscalculation may not have been noticeable in a homework assignment, but when applied to a greenhouse plot it became obvious.

This is the power of the real application of problem solving. Of course, when it is a lovely fall day in Montana, it doesn't get any better than learning outside. By the end of class, the students had marked out the rectangular plot with 90-degree corners and made it parallel with the fence line. We look forward to partnering with Katie and Eric on the farm more often.