Series: High Tech High Deeper Learning

Tiny House: A Community Project
Lesson Objective: Design and build an energy-efficient home
Grades 6-12 / Science / Collaboration

Thought starters

  1. How do students apply their knowledge of environmental science when building?
  2. How is collaboration structured and facilitated?
  3. What did students learn from this project?
That was wonderful, who can the parents and teachers talk to to ask if we can have classes like this implemented in the curriculum? Awesome teaching
Recommended (0)
This is giving me ideas for my summer STEM projects I will be doing with my summer school students. Excellent idea!
Recommended (0)
This is AMAZING!!! What a wonderful way to get students thinking about the world they live in and make informed green changes locally! BRAVO to this teacher!! way to go!! = )
Recommended (0)
As a Science teacher I love this idea for STEM!
Recommended (0)
I wholeheartedly approve of what is going on in this high school. However, I don't think that such "'real world" activities should be limited to a technical high school. All students can benefit from this "hands on" approach to learning.
Recommended (0)


  • Tiny House: A Community Project

    Teacher: At Hi-tech High, we’re told to teach our passion. I love building things. We

    Tiny House: A Community Project

    Teacher: At Hi-tech High, we’re told to teach our passion. I love building things. We started out with an investigation into the home. How we use energy in the home, water. How we use our space in the home. Then we started talking about what’s really necessary and what are the effects of all that consumption on the world at large?

    Teacher: You’ll notice that there’s a smooth side.

    Teacher: From there, we said, “Why don’t we build a house that shows everything that we’re learning?”

    Teacher: The tiny house is the model for efficient living. It’s within 100 square feet. It’s got two stories and then a rooftop garden. It’s not only space efficient but it’s water efficient, energy efficient. We’ve implemented solar panels and a grey water recycling system. It’s all student design.

    Teacher: I have two classes. Each class has 21 students. Those 42 students together worked on this project. Before we even started construction, we had a study on home consumption. They learned unit conversion, they learned how to extrapolate that information.

    Student: A tiny house can be used to get people throughout the community interested in environmental science.

    Teacher: Students made videos about the different components of the house. They also created information plaques that are posted on the house to explain the grey water system, the green roof, the structural steel that we used. Any aspect you could think of that we’d incorporate into a house.

    Teacher: We wanted to see what the bare minimum was for a person to live, because once we have the bare minimum, we can sort of work off of that, and then work on adding luxuries.

    Teacher: Then we shifted to the design and solicitation phase. Once our designs were more or less set, the class voted. The class gave input, and we had this final design that they then fine-tuned even more. We had a green roof group, we had a structural materials group. Flooring, kitchen, bathroom. Within those groups, they were assessed based on their deliverables. That included cold calls, solicitation letters.

    Teacher: It’s made out of donated steel, and we’ve been working with different companies to get sponsorships.

    Teacher: Once we got into construction phase, we shifted over to a construction expert. We brought in a general contractor. He’s semi-retired, so he had a little free time that he was able to help us out with.

    Teacher: Get as much paint as you can onto the material without drips.

    Teacher: During the construction phase, I didn’t assess the students too much. There’s different skill levels when it comes to manual labor. It was more of an effort assessment.

    Teacher: The end goal for this is to offer bed and breakfast to travelers, have those travelers come, see what it’s like to live small.

    Teacher: Awesome.

    Teacher: In the greater scope, students are taking these lessons off to start their adult life.

    Teacher: We want to show people that anyone can be efficient.

    [End of Audio]

School Details

High Tech Middle Media Arts School
2230 Truxtun Road, 2nd Floor
San Diego CA 92106
Population: 316

Data Provided By:



Brandon Cohen



All Grades / All Subjects / Tch Tools

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, All Subjects, Class Culture

Lesson Idea

Grades 9-12, ELA, Class Culture

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Students / Class Culture