Connecting the Dots? Geometry & Architecture

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, July 8, 2008

Grade Level

  • High School


  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics

Lesson Time

Two or three fifty-minute class periods


In this activity, students will learn about the connections between geometry and architecture. They will view a video highlighting a high school geometry class design project. Students will participate in an internet scavenger hunt to research a variety of architecture and geometry-related terms.

National Standards

Common Core English Language Arts
Strand Reading
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards
Strand Writing
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards
Language Arts - Writing
Language Arts - Reading
Working With Others

Common Core Standards

Anchors for Reading:

Key Ideas and Details:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

Anchor Standards for Writing:

Text Types and Purposes1:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

Production and Distribution of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.5 Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.

Research to Build and Present Knowledge:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

Range of Writing:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.10 Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Anchor standards for Speaking and Listening:

Comprehension and Collaboration:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Anchor standards for Language:

Conventions of Standard English:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

Knowledge of Language:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.


Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.L.6 Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.



Students will do the following:
• conduct internet research • view and interpret media • work in collaborative groups to collect information • respond to writing prompts • make connections across disciplines


“Internet Scavenger” handout (attached) Architecture vocabulary Math vocabulary Applying Math Skills to Real World Problems video:


computer with internet access


Building Background The Vocabulary of Architecture & Geometry

The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to some of the vocabulary that is used in geometry and in architecture.
1. Tell the students that they are going to conduct an internet scavenger hunt to find the meaning of geometry and architectural terms. Give the class twenty minutes to complete this exercise. The goal of the exercise is not to learn all these terms, but to begin to explore the wide range of terms that intersect across the fields of architecture and mathematics. You may wish to have students complete the assignment as homework. Teacher Note: You can modify the vocabulary words to meet your instructional needs. The definitions for the architecture vocabulary may be found at The definitions for the geometry vocabulary may be found at

Steps for Learning Activity One: Media View, A Classroom Story

The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to a classroom application of geometry and architecture.
1. As a class, view the brief video entitled Applying Math Skills to Real World Problems. Teacher Note: The video is approximately eleven minutes long. 2. Discuss students’ reactions to the film. Use the following questions as guidelines: • What did you learn about architecture from the video? • How are geometry and architecture related?

Activity Two: Thinking and Connecting

The purpose of this activity is for students to reflect on the connections between disciplines.
1. Ask your students to respond in journals to the following prompts: • What are the connections between mathematics and other sciences? • What role does imagination play in mathematics? • What role does imagination play in architecture? • What role does creativity play in architecture? • What role does creativity play in mathematics? • How are words used in similar ways in architecture and mathematics? • What are the connections between architecture and mathematics? • What math idea needs to be used in creating a scale model? • What math idea needs to be used in perspective drawing? • What math idea needs to be used in creating a floor plan? • What math idea needs to be used in developing cost estimates?
2. Ask students to share their responses. Lead a class discussion on the connections between mathematics and architecture.


Use the quality of students’ journal responses, worksheet responses, and participation in class discussion to assess their understanding of the connections between mathematics and geometry.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Activity One: Learn More Terms
Have your students find twenty additional architectural and geometry-related terms and definitions.
Activity Two: Real World Research
Ask your students to interview an architect about the connections between architecture and mathematics. If possible, invite an architect to visit the classroom and share his or her work with the class.
  1. Journaling has such a positive impact in class. I like to use at least 10 minutes at the beginning or end of class for students to journal. This helps improve writing skills and helps the teacher understand the students perspective on the lesson. You may decide to share in a few specific ways. Students can share with a partner and then share the partner’s story to another listener. This will help students learn interviewing and listening skills.

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