LES students learning math with 'If I had Hammer' program
by Aziza Jackson
Perry Wilson from the program “If I Had a Hammer,” breaks down a math equation for fifth-graders at Lincoln Elementary School on Thursday.
LINCOLN – Fifth-graders at Lincoln Elementary School received a special treat Thursday morning in the form of a program called “If I Had a Hammer.”

The program is designed to help students who are facing academic challenges, especially in mathematics, by integrating the learning of academic subject matter with a fun, hands-on activity.

Students learn through the integration of a construction team activity and classroom curriculum and work to assemble an 8-foot x 11-foot house in less than two hours. The project is designed to teach students about fractions and units of measure as they design a house on a quarter inch scale.

“From the ‘Hammer project’ our students will learn that math skills are used in real life applications every day,” said LES Principal Donna Hudson.

“They will use the skills of using fractions and measurement to design and build a home, which could be put to use later in life.”

The project was designed by Perry Wilson, a carpenter who consistently struggled in class while in school and ended up failing the fifth grade. Wilson did not learn to read well until he was an adult because of a learning disability.

As a carpenter, Wilson discovered that when he actually worked with math on the job, he could easily grasp the principles that eluded him in the classroom. It was his own experience that led Wilson to create the “If I Had a Hammer” program.

Through the program, Wilson found that children have an easier time learning when they apply academic subjects to tangible projects.

Subjects incorporated into the project include mathematics, social studies, science and language arts.

Students use basic mathematic principles and learn to estimate measurements as they become familiar with the design of the house. Decisions about materials must be made using math formulas.

Students also learn and use economic principles by being exposed to a simple budget process. They are shown how the roles and relationships within a team contribute to accomplishing a goal.

Students are also introduced to elementary principles of physics when moving and fastening the pieces of the house. They also discuss the physical characteristics of various shapes and materials.

Students must also communicate among themselves, follow and give directions, and grasp the plan for building the house.

About 20 LES students participated in the first part of the program Thursday morning. The students will actually build a house at the McWane Center once they return from Christmas break.

Contact Aziza Jackson at ajackson@dailyhome.com.

© 2012