Tiny house, big rewards?
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Traditional architectural engineering classes teach students the basics of architecture which may lead to the creation of a model made out of balsa wood and wood glue which then gets taken home to collect dust or immediately deposited in the closest trashcan. To make the experience more authentic and meaningful, I have created two units to augment the Project Lead The Way class, Green Architecture (https://www.pltw.org/our-programs/pltw-gateway/pltw-gateway-curriculum). The first unit includes the designing and building of a tiny house that will be donated to a local charity that works with the homeless. The students have their hands on every step in the process from idea generation to construction to the presentation of the house to the charity. In this unit the students are also introduced to sustainability education, learning to live off the grid and exploring the use of repurposed materials to reduce their carbon footprint. The second unit will be used to support the first unit as it has the students explore and understand homelessness. This unit has the students define homelessness and research its causes. The unit does not just have the students research homelessness, it also gives them a homeless experience; "surviving" one night outdoors with only the resources of a homeless person. This unit concludes with the students carrying out a service project based on the interest of the group, their collective talents and the needs of the community. Both service learning and sustainability education have been slowly pushed aside due to a climate of high stakes testing. There is a general feeling the administration at our school and at the district level feels at the time in class is better served by teaching content only. By adding these two units, my hope is to give the administrators as well as the students in the class a better understanding of the need for both sustainability and service in our world as well as in our community.