Measuring Up is a curriculum guide produced by Detroit Connections with Harms Elementary School in southwest Detroit. Harms School principal, Patricia Diaz, identified metric measurement as an academic area that the children needed to work on. Detroit Connections designed a year-long curriculum for an after school club which we called Metric Arts consisting of two long term projects, one for the fall semester and one for the winter semester. These two projects, documented in the Measuring Up guide, were designed to combine concrete skills in measurement with an imaginative artistic experience that includes visual thinking and hands-on creation.
The work on this project was integrated into the Detroit Connections: In the Classroom course taught by Janie Paul and Ceci Mendez. In this course, college students met to plan and prepare for their projects and traveled to Harms School to work with children in the Metric Arts after school club.
The first semester was spent making Alebrijes, large paper maché sculptures based on a tradition rooted in Mexico. These were made collaboratively by small groups of two, three or four children. In the second semester, each child constructed a book that was designed to hold their visions and dreams for their futures – who they are, who they want to become and what kind of careers they might want to explore. Each project was very much an exploration in art and mathematical skill building, with an emphasis on metric measurement. The Measuring Up book serves as both documentation of our experiences and as a guide for anyone who wishes to use it for their own projects.