Houck Middle School eighth-grade students gave presentations at their Design Thinking Showcase today. They explained how they used math to find solutions to real problems.

For example, one group of students (pictured) noticed a street without street lights in a nearby neighborhood. They used math to determine where each light should be located, and to estimate the total cost of the project.

Another group studied the problem of litter along the street in front of Houck. They priced how much modern, solar powered trash cans would cost, determined how many are needed and learned about city regulations on placement.

Houck math teachers Joan Swafford and Stephanie Hughes said they are impressed that the students focused on projects to help their school, and to help local neighborhoods.

Houck is working in partnership with In4All, a non-profit based in Beaverton. Its mission is to bring local businesses and schools together to provide real-world, hands-on learning experiences that expand opportunities for students who have been historically underserved.

Visitors came to Houck today to view the students’ displays and offer feedback. They included representatives from the Willamette Education Service District, Portland Public Schools, Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

In4All is also working with Parrish Middle School, which will hold its Design Thinking Showcase on June 7 at the Oregon State Capitol.