This Week in the Classroom: Pantographs

My school spends a lot of time, energy and financial resources on project-based learning.  In my experience, teachers use project-based learning as a catch-all term for anything from make-it-take-it projects which last twenty minutes to inquiry-driven, rubric-graded, long-term explorations.  Calling the former project-based learning is lazy and misdirection.  Creating incredible experiences for students with the latter definition is exhausting and rewarding.  Most of the time, a teacher must follow a middle course.  This is one of those projects.

We started off by designing and building pantographs.  If you don’t know anything about pantographs – check out the video below.  Also check out http://www.peter.com.au/articles/pantograph.html for instructions on how to build a professional-quality pantograph.  This site contains a java applet which allows students to digitally explore a pantograph’s mechanics before use.  I’ve included a Sketch Up model in my section of the 3D Warehouse.

Afterwards, my student’s worked through a number of percentage problems based on their pantograph’s working results.  I don’t include a lot of variety in the type of problems, but you can modify the problem sets to reflect your curriculum needs.  If this series of projects interest you, feel free to use them in your own classroom.

Make it safe & keep the rubberside down this week.