If I Had a Hammer is available on Blinn College Schulenburg campus. Teachers may arrange a session by calling (979) 251-6292 or email Hank Ward.
Participation is open to fifth grade classes in Blinn’s 13-county service area: Brazos, Burleson, Fayette, Grimes, Lee, Madison, Waller and Washington counties and parts of Austin, Milam, Montgomery, Robertson and Walker counties.
If I Had a Hammer integrates the learning of academic subject matter with a fun, hands-on activity through the integration of a construction team activity and a classroom curriculum. Students work as a group to assemble an 8 X 11 foot house in less than two hours.
The finished product — a free-standing house complete with windows, door and a front porch — is the result of teamwork, communication and the real-life application of math and science concepts. Students also build self-esteem and experience a powerful sense of accomplishment that comes through hard work.
To build the house and work through the classroom curriculum, students must come to an understanding of math concepts, functions and processes. The way students become engaged in the project teaches them valuable skills each step of the way — from adding fractions to measuring a room or factoring sales tax into a budget.
Students use basic mathematics principles and learn to estimate measurements as they become familiar with the design of the house. Decisions about materials must be made using math formulas.
Students learn and use economic principles by being exposed to a simple budget process. They are shown how the roles and relationships within a team contribute to accomplishing a goal.
Students are introduced to elementary principles of physics when moving and fastening the pieces of the house. They also discuss the physical characteristics of various shapes and materials.
Students must communicate among themselves, follow and give directions, and grasp the plan for building the house.
Perry Wilson never had an easy time in school. He consistently struggled in class, failed the fifth grade, and because of a learning disability, didn't learn to read well until he was an adult. But as a master carpenter, Perry discovered that when he "worked" with math on the job, he could easily grasp the principles that eluded him in the classroom.
It was his own experience that led Perry to create the If I Had A Hammer program. Children learn more easily when they apply academic subjects to tangible projects, and Hammer gives them that chance.
Designed for fifth graders — children at a critical time in their development — Hammer helps them see their worth, see the value of the tools education gives them, and offers them hope for the future.