You’ve probably heard teenagers sighing something like “everything I’m learning at school is useless!” There are many reasons behind this typical reaction and I certainly understand that studying the intercept theorem could be boring if never applied to real-life challenges.
To help teens out of this ‘academic funk’, the “Ma pierre à l’édifice(*)” contest helps students by combining history, literature, mathematics, technology and the arts to serve a civic-minded, real-life useFUL project.
Last year, the French Ministry of Education, the “Observatoire du Patrimoine Religieux” (OPR, Religious Heritage Observatory) and Dassault Systèmes signed a general agreement defining a yearly contest dedicated to students aged 12-14. The contest drives teenagers to study in-depth a religious building (historical context, architecture, techniques to measure its dimensions…) using most of the disciplines taught at schools.
One example: As you may know, it is almost impossible to obtain a detailed plan of a 300-year old building. To measure the height of a bell tower, students may refer to Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island and see how the engineer Cyrus Smith determined the height of a cliff using the intercept theorem. There are many other ways to make such measures and they are detailed in the teachers’ guide proposed for free to participants.
Based upon their own measures, observations, digital pictures and on-site visits with architects, the teens create 3D representations of historic religious buildings using 3DVIA Shape. Students publish their models on www.3dvia.com and OPR embeds them via the 3DVIA plug-in to their official online inventory. Today the OPR digital inventory includes a portion of the France’s religious buildings but they hope to complete their online collection in the coming years.
Last spring, seven junior high schools selected by the Ministry participated in a pilot phase. The winners from the Collège Centre du Creusot and Collège Victor Hugo de Nevers were awarded on November 6th, 2009 during the International Heritage Show held at the Louvre museum.
Here’s an interactive 3D look at digital models from the winning teams.
The first is Eglise Saint-Henry situated in Le Creusot:
And here’s a less-traditional Eglise Sainte-Bernardette du Banlay, situated in Nevers:
The 2010 edition is now open for French school registrations and more information can be found on the official website (in French).
Do you know of any similar projects going on in other countries? Please share!
Hervé Foucher works for Dassault Systèmes Education Department and is in charge of online communities for students and educators.(*)For those who are not familiar with French, the name of the project is a play on words. The expression “Apporter sa pierre à l’édifice” (word for word “to bring one’s stone to the building”) means to bring a willingness of working on a project, even if it’s a small contribution. At the same time, the stone and the building refer to the monuments OPR tries to protect.