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The dogs — including Chow the Chow Chow — are not real. But the research and work behind each
house are rock-solid. By creating new homes for their fictional pets, the students themselves are
gaining real-life experience using geometry to build original, tangible creations.
The dog houses are the pet project of Honors math teacher Krista Bolmer. She liked the idea of an
assignment that would reinforce previously covered concepts — such as scaling dimensions and
converting metrics — while incorporating new research.
At Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in West Grove, sixth graders are designing and
building miniature models of their dream dog houses — and letting their imaginations run wild.
THE PROOF BEHIND THE POOCH
“I made Chow’s dog house cozy, but with enough room for his fur,” says sixth grader Gianna
Bracalenti. “It has a front door and a doggie door in the back for easy access to the backyard.”
Chow is a fluffy Chow Chow dog. Loyal and lion-like, he requires regular grooming, moderate
exercise, and a comfortable home. The question is, what kind of home?
THIS PROJECT-BASED CHALLENGE EXPLORES
THE MATH OF DESIGNING DOG HOUSES.
Adding an animal element was key. Bolmer says students were especially excited to pick out pets
and take personal ownership of their projects.
“The dogs almost became imaginary pets for them,” she says. “They named the dogs and
incorporated pictures into their final presentation. That was an element I considered removing, for
consistency’s sake. But I’m glad I didn’t!”
To begin, the students chose a dog breed and researched their dogs’ expected dimensions. Those
measurements became the basis for their designs, which students created with scaled diagrams —
net drawings showing the houses’ measurements in three dimensions, laid flat.
Then came their biggest challenge: budgeting out, then building models of their designs.