FABClassroom: Tiny House Revolution at Stem Launch K-8


The sixth graders at Stem Launch K-8 in Thornton, Colorado started a revolution - a Tiny House Revolution. Every year, students engage in a Problem-Based Learning (PBL) model and are motivated by inquiry-based, hands-on learning.

Best Model-Group 22 Ms. York

Best Model-Group 22 Ms. York

Katherine Klaver, STEM coordinator at the school explained that the students, "are immersed in authentic problem solving and they present their learning to expert panels made up of community experts multiple times throughout the year. " 

This year, about 170 sixth graders used Fab@School Maker Studio to tackle the Tiny House Challenge. We asked Katherine to share a bit more about the program and how the school is applying the digital design and fabrication software into their curriculum. 

Can you share a bit about the Tiny House Revolution and the Sixth Grade Math PBL Panel?

Our sixth graders’ math PBL was called, "Living Small: The Tiny House Revolution." Check out the link to the site, here. Students were asked to consider the following

Context: The cost of housing is skyrocketing. This is causing people to lose their homes or not able to afford them in the first place. There is currently an affordable housing shortage in the Denver Metro area and alternative solutions are necessary.

Problem: How do you create housing that is both affordable and sustainable for a family of four using the specific parameters of the tiny house model (250-1,000 square feet)?

Task: Students will design a tiny home that is cost effective, energy efficient, and can fit a family of 4.

This PBL was rooted in math. Here are some of the standards that were taught:

  • Geometry plays a role in our everyday life.
  • Mathematical models can be used to solve real-life problems.
  • Students are able to reason about relationships among shapes to determine area, surface area, and volume.

At the end of March, we brought 170 sixth graders to the Denver Home Show. Deek Diedricksen from HGTV's Tiny House Builders talked to us and we got to tour about 12 tiny houses.

The kids researched the current housing situation in the Denver Metro area and the need for more affordable options. They utilized their math skills to create tiny house designs that they then created in Fab@School and used the fabricator. Students also build physical models.


Can you share an “aha moment” working with your students Fab@School?

I think the best way for me to answer this question is with some direct quotes from sixth grade students! 

"FabMaker Studio is easy to use and understand. It's one of the best websites I've used for 3D printing! I love how if I needed a shape I could just grab it and move it. TinkerCad is too sensitive for me." ~Logan S. 

"It's easy to see and to run this program. I love how you could see what it would look like before you folded it."  ~Dejanae W. 

"This program helped us figure out the measurements and we determined how to scale it down by a third. We really liked the visual that the program gave us." ~Eric D. 

"I love the magnet tool. It really helped us construct our physical model." ~Jeff D.