Math Guides Seventh Grade in Designing Refugee Camp

On Monday, October 22, Burke's seventh graders took a "reverse" field trip that kept them on campus but prompted them to think critically about refugees all across the globe.

With the partnership of MathAction, an organization that pairs mathematics education with important social issues, math teachers May Wong and Joy Cooper set aside the entire day for the activity. Students came into the day having already completed a personal water audit that determined that each student uses about 67 gallons of water each day. They then started the field trip by hearing more about the refugee crisis that is currently happening all over the world.

Using the United Nations' guidelines on how much water one individual and one household is alloted per day, seventh graders then joined together in teams to carry those amounts of water across the front lawn (pictured), recording information such as distance and time. After returning to the classroom, students used the figures they gathered to complete calculations for the layout of a fictional refugee camp, keeping in mind that people in those camps have to transport water in the same way they did. To finish out the day, students created a scaled version of a refugee camp model using human-centered design. Not only would these models meet basic needs, but they would also create a community that went beyond the requirements for survival.

On November 27, the seventh grade will take a real field trip to Oakland to share these models with professionals in the field and work with students from other schools to keep the learning going. Click here to see more photos.
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Katherine Delmar Burke School

An independent K–8 school for girls
7070 California Street, San Francisco, CA 94121
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