Thursday, August 19, 2010

My Basement is a Problem

We're trying to get our basement in order, and are finally getting rid of a huge old counter that was here when we moved in and is very inefficient storage.  Putting in new cabinets, and a new smaller countertop (which we inherited) because we are a family that needs workspace.

So we're trying to figure out how big the shelves should be, and how we can arrange furniture in the new room.  We've got some bunk beds that have to stay, but are quite awkward, and a small collection of other furniture.  The upper right corner is a raised platform.  OK to put things on, but they have to fit entirely on the platform.  I wanted to make a scale image so we could move cutout furniture around, instead of just moving the real furniture around.  "Hey!"it occurs to me, "I should make a dynamic sketch instead."

Onto Geogebra.  I can always export the sketch for the paper version.  My fifth grader helped me and we measured all the wall pieces and the bigger pieces of furniture.  I made the furniture by making rectangles with fixed side lengths, with one side movable.  Using the circle+radius tool, I discovered that you can put calculations in for the radius.  So 4 feet 11 inches was entered as 4+ 11/12, or 30 inches as 30/12.  (Yes I do know 30"=2.5', but the point is that conversion was easy.)  Objects in Geogebra can be captioned, and in the properties-basic tab for an object you can choose to display nothing, name, value, name & value or caption as the label.  Not too challenging to make, but a little tedious.

The sketch is a little too big to fit into the blog well.  You can scale before exporting to make it smaller, but since you're moving furniture around, you want a little space.  It's available as a webpage or as the original geogebra sketch.  If you have any suggestions for it, please let me know.  Or suggestions for the basement, for that matter!

Now get to work.

Update:  this has been an interesting exercise.  My 6th grader and her friend produced several possible layouts, my wife has used the geogebra for the first time, and my sister-in-law and father-in-law have also given it a spin.  This has made some very accessible connections for people who do not see this stuff as math.

Also if you have a plan for the basement, my wife would also like to fit in a 52" round table.  Thanks!


  1. John: impressive painstaking work; did you do all the rectangles separately or did you use a geogebra tool? Great for scale measurement and floor plans/views with students. Looking forward to using it.

  2. Sadly, I made each individually, since I wanted specific proportions. I have not figured out how to make a tool that asks for inputs yet. That's on the docket for this year.

  3. That's really quite cool! As someone who left maths teaching 11 years ago, but who wants to know how to use geocabra, this looks like a fun activity to get me started. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Never thought you'd use a dynamic sketch for your problem. But it's good to see that you already have plans for your basement. Although I have to wonder, how are you going to deal with floods?