July 12, 2010
COLLEGE PARK, Md -- Urban Studies and Planning student Riane McWain and Professor Alex Chen underscore the importance of mathematics to the practicing planner in a new Math by Design | Math in Action educational video produced by Maryland Public Television for use in local middle schools.
In Math in Action: Urban Planning, Chen explains that urban planning is broadly the study of people and place – how people relate to their environment and how the environment effects how we live, work and play. To help the students understand the discipline and the way math is used by a planner, Chen uses the game Box City. “Box City empowers children to articulate what they think is important in their community and it teaches our graduate students who join me for the project how to deal with clients,” says Chen.
Acting as a planning consultant to the students, McWain said the project “made me cognizant of how differently a child views the city, versus adults.” She confesses that as a middle school student she’d never thought she would use math and now she uses it almost every day.
The object of Box City is for youth to fashion a city made entirely of boxes on a floor-sized grid of empty streets and city blocks. The game has only one rule: make a city in which you would like to live, work and play. Once the city is built the students use math to calculate things like density function and amenities per square mile.
Designed as an in-class learning tool, Math by Design is produced as part of a national public television collaborative to create online resources focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects for middle school students and teachers.
The School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland is home to four academic disciplines: architecture, urban planning, historic preservation and real estate development. Committed to educating its students and community about the importance of sustainability and smart growth, the School practices an interdisciplinary approach to education, research, creative work, and community and professional service. For more information, please e-mail us or call 301.405.8000.
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