Students and adult volunteers building a frame. Aiden O’Brien, Senior, right forground.

Students and adult volunteers building a frame. Aiden O’Brien, Senior, right forground.

On a crisp, sunny Saturday more than 120 Evanston Township High School students, parents and volunteers worked throughout the day in the south parking lot near the tennis courts for the first Community Build Day for the Geometry in Construction project.  The students received in hands-on experience in construction skills such as framing, roofing and plumbing.

The house being constructed in the empty parking lot will be transported to an empty, city-owned vacant lot at 1941 Jackson Ave. This collaboration between Evanston Township High School, the City of Evanston and Community Partners for Affordable Housing, a nonprofit organization based in Highland Park, is the result of long term planning.

Once completed, Rob Anthony, executive director of Community Partners for Affordable Housing, will sell the house to low income Evanston residents.

The ETHS Educational Foundation has provided $10,000 in funding.  The Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse has donated most of the materials. This nonprofit organization encourages the use of recycled materials.

The students enrolled in the class started planning and working at the beginning of the school year with co-teachers/leaders Matthew Kaiser, industrial technology of the Career and Technology Education (CTE) department and Maryjoy Heineman, mathematics department. Geometry in Construction helps the students readily identify the relevance of mathematics.

This project combines current geometry curriculum with construction technology, giving students the opportunity to participate in what John Dewey, American educator, psychologist and philosopher in the early 20th century, called experiential learning. He felt that people learn most when they are actively involved in their learning and find the material relevant and that students should be provided with opportunities that they can relate, connect and transfer to real life.

This program is based on a program started at Loveland High School in Colorado a few years ago.

Members of the Geometry in Construction team worked tirelessly all day on this one story, 1300 square foot, three-bedroom home from plans provided by DonnaLee M. Floeter, a local architect. The energy and focus of the ETHS students was evident as they interacted and assisted volunteers throughout the day.

Ms. Heineman and Mr. Kaiser said that there will be additional Community Build Days once each quarter. Information can be found at: http://wildkitconstruction.com/