The House that Prairie View built

By Kevin Denke
Posted 12/8/10

     “Where’s the square? I need a square,” one Prairie View High School geometry-in-construction student shouts across the wooden structure sitting on the north …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

The House that Prairie View built


     “Where’s the square? I need a square,” one Prairie View High School geometry-in-construction student shouts across the wooden structure sitting on the north side of the school grounds.
    On the south side of the construction site, PVHS math teacher Todd Riccio helps student Kevin Huckfeldt line up a board on the edge of what will someday be a set of steps.

    “That means this angle would have to be 57, right? Does that make sense now?” Riccio asks.
    Riccio and PVHS construction teacher Jim Cade are leading 40 eager students in building a cabin for the school’s first geometry in construction class. 
    “It answers the question of, ‘When would I even use this?’” Riccio said.
    “This is where the math makes sense,” Cade said.
    Geometry in construction is an alternative approach to learning geometry that is available as an option for students taking geometry at PVHS. Riccio and Cade together to teach the geometry objectives infused into construction. Students enroll for one credit of geometry and one credit of construction and are assigned a two-hour block of time every day.
    In addition to classroom and field work, the class also offers guest speakers, field trips and study and design of blueprints.
    “The biggest advantage to this program versus traditional math class is that this is all hands-on,” Cade said.
    Cade said he discussed implementing the program for the last four years with the 27J School District, before the green light for the 2010-11 school year. Cade teamed up with Riccio late last year to visit Loveland High School, which has been doing the program for several years.
    Nearly 70 students expressed interest in the first year of the program at Prairie View, but there were only slots for 40 students to participate. The class consists of mostly sophomores, with a few juniors and seniors. Nearly half of the students in the class are girls, and most of the students enrolled in the class have no prior experience with construction.
    The students learn geometry concepts in the classroom, then head out into the field – literally – to work on constructing the 600-square-foot cabin using the concepts they have just learned.
    “It’s a great program and the kids have bought into it, which is the best part,” Riccio said.
    Everything on the cabin, including framing, plumbing, roofing and even the fence around the site, is being built by PVHS students. After it’s finished this May, the cabin will be moved to a location in Central City.
    Sophomores Amber Lefor and Preston Mekelburg say they look forward to geometry-in-construction class each day.
    “It’s the most fun class I’m taking this year,” Mekelburg said, as Lefor, Huckfeldt and sophomore Brooke Daily nod their heads. “And we learn a lot.”
    In addition to practicing their geometry and learning the basics of construction, the students say they learn life lessons as well.
    “It’s taught a lot of kids out here to be responsible,” Lefor said.
    “We’ve learned a lot of teamwork,” Mekelburg said.
    Huckfeldt, a sophomore, said participating in the class has made him consider a career in construction.
    Riccio said the plan is to continue the program in future years at PVHS. The goal is to get the class big enough to partner with Habitat for Humanity one day.
    Cade, Riccio and the students say they are grateful for the support of the community for the first year of the geometry in construction class.
    “We have a long list of supporters,” Riccio said.
    “The community support has been overwhelming,” Cade said.


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.