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All it took were 100-yard strips of plastic tablecloth fabric, rolls of clear plastic package tape, and a heap of knowledge about solid geometry for some 100 students of teacher Zach Hermann  to construct a gymnasium full of colorful forms for the Third Annual Geometry Giant Inflatables Exhibition at Evanston Township High School Thursday afternoon.

All it took were 100-yard strips of plastic tablecloth fabric, rolls of clear plastic package tape, and a heap of knowledge about solid geometry for some 100 students of teacher Zach Hermann  to construct a gymnasium full of colorful forms for the Third Annual Geometry Giant Inflatables Exhibition at Evanston Township High School Thursday afternoon.

Hermann, who grew up in Wisconsin making these things as a kid, enlisted Superintendent Eric Witherspoon and fellow faculty members to engage the students in a discussion of the principles of geometry that enabled them to construct the forms, which involved combining such shapes as pyramids, cubes, and horizontal prisms to construct their exhibits.

“This was all Zach’s idea,” said Witherspoon. “It’s a fabulous project that involves team-building and problem-solving in an activity that brings geometry to life,” he added.

The faculty evaluators asked the students such questions as “what was particularly challenging or surprisingly easy about using geometry to design and construct something in large scale?” And “what connections are there between art and design, mathematics, problem solving, and engineering?”

Just to make the project extra difficult, the students had to use every bit of the 40-inch-wide and 100-foot-long fabric and also had to construct a poster that described the project and the geometric principles involved.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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