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Students, community members build house for ETHS geometry class

Allisha Azlan/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston Township High School students and volunteers work together to build a house Saturday for a low-income family. The project is part of an ETHS class called Geometry in Construction.

Jordan Harrison/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston Township High School students and volunteers work together to build a house Saturday for a low-income family. The project is part of an ETHS class called Geometry in Construction.

Jordan Harrison, Reporter

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About 80 Evanston Township High School students and volunteers donned hard hats and safety glasses Saturday at a community build day for ETHS’s Geometry in Construction class.

The class, co-taught by Maryjoy Heineman and Matthew Kaiser, combines math with real-world applications to build a house for a low-income family.

“The basic idea and premise of the course is that through building the house, the students have an opportunity to learn geometry in an applied manner,” said Kaiser, a career and technical education teacher. “So, when we did things like building a wall or finding how to square a wall, students had to use angles to determine whether or not they had a square structure.”

Heineman and Kaiser said they plan for construction to be finished in late May. The house will then be transported to its permanent location at 1941 Jackson Ave.

Heineman, an ETHS math teacher, said the class has been able to press forward with construction through adverse weather conditions this winter due to its versatile classroom space.

“With the weather constraints, we’ve actually done quite a bit of work inside, so we’ve built almost all but one or two of our interior walls.” Heineman said. “We haven’t lost too much time because we’ve had this incredible space where we can just work inside when the weather’s not great for us.”

Kaiser said the one-story, three-bedroom house will measure approximately 1,300 square feet. The structure of the house is uniquely long and narrow to fit shipping regulations and the shape of the build site. The class has already hosted one community build in October, where students and volunteers completed the building’s floor.

The emphasis on hands-on experience resonated with some freshman and sophomore students in the class, such as ETHS freshman Josh Klier.

“It’s not your typical math class, learning-wise,” Klier said. “I can really relate in the classroom to what I’m doing outside because a lot of connections are being made during class.

Several Evanston businesses sponsor the project, including Evanston Lumber and Evanston ReBuilding Warehouse. Evanston community members also lent their talents at the build, many of whom have children at ETHS or have in the past.

General contractor Todd Kihm, whose son is in the class, joined the project about two weeks ago.

“I think the best thing about it for the kids is that these kids are coming away with some real perspective on potentially a career,” Kihm said. “These kids are going to be able to drive their kids back and be able to say, ‘When I was in high school, I built that house.

Email: jordanharrison2017@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @MedillJordan

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