Snap Hotel and Isometric Renderings

I am few days into my Snap Hotel Project and it is time for an update. This post is going to be a quick smattering of latte-enhanced thoughts. In an attempt to seek your forgiveness, I am going to throw in plenty of pictures.

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What We Have Done So Far

Step 1 (45 minutes) - I passed out the rules and regulations document to the students and gave them about 45 minutes to play around and wrap their head around the rules and the goals. They worked individually and had no idea they would eventually be in groups. Most students missed a few rules, but that was okay at this point. They focused on developing hotels that would have lots of valuable rooms. The single cube towers became a popular strategy, but most kids got confused by the logistics of block and land costs.

Step 2 (30 minutes) - I asked each student to construct a hotel of 25 to 30 cubes and calculate its profit or loss. This was eye-opening for lots of the students. With only 25-30 cubes it is hard to make a profit, so a number of students rapidly refined their designs. Many ended up owing me money. At this point, it was helpful to review the block and land pricing with the whole class. As students worked, I looked over shoulders to make sure they were calculating their profit correctly.

Step 3 (30 minutes) - Many of my students have mentioned that they really struggle to visualize and draw 3D shapes. One of my requirements for this project is to create a rendering of the hotel. So, I spent about 30 minutes introducing my students to drawing cubes and shapes on isometric graph paper. I showed them the basics of how it works, then gave them 4 simple models to try to represent. Abilities varied wildly, but everyone finished. Students who finished early either worked on their hotels or made a sculpture and tried to render it.

Step 4 (??? minutes) - I informed students of their groups and let them work on designing their hotels as a team. This is where I am now, I am not sure how long this will take. I want to give them enough time to test multiple ideas and optimize, but I also know that they could work on this forever. I am going to feel it out as I go, but I expect this will take them 3 to 5 45-minute class periods.

Homework (4 nights) - Part of the requirements of this assignment is to complete a budget in google sheets. I set up a template, but they have to fill in the data and write equations. To support them in this, I made 2 screencasts introducing them to the basics of spreadsheets and then gave them some data to work with. The videos covered: cell addresses, types of cell data, writing formulas using numbers, writing general formulas using cell addresses, copying formulas so they automatically adjust, and the following functions: =sum, =count, =max, =sumif, and =countif.

The students LOVED this work. I may have created spreadsheet monsters!

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Observations

  • This Geometry unit has been a good reminder that young students do not have a ton of experience optimizing. We need more of that next year
  • This year I have been having students work independently prior to pairing or grouping them and it has been really effective
  • Students do not get enough experience rendering. They got lots of drawing practice in art classes, but, in my opinion, not enough experience with design and rendering
  • My students had great questions about real estate and building laws. Got lots of questions about whether their family could build a sky scrapper right where their current home sits
  • Some students are going to try to make a model of their hotels in Minecraft, could be interesting