The Doghouse Project
The Doghouse Project packs a lot of happiness into STEM
The Doghouse Project creates an exciting bridge between district kindergarteners and high school students enrolled in Design & Draw for Production. While the most thrilling moment is the morning that the high school students visit the kindergarten classes, the genius of the project is the import it brings to both age groups’ work. Having high school students review, measure and draw the kindergarteners’ doghouse designs underscores the value of the young students’ creative process. Delivering finished products to kindergarteners who look up to them heightens the high school students’ awareness of themselves as role models as well as engineers.
The visit is timed to enliven what both age groups are studying.
Why dogs need shelter.
For kindergarteners, the high school students’ visit comes at the close of a weather unit, after class discussions about sun, air and water—the three things that affect the weather. The children's mission is to use what they’ve learned about the weather and build structures that will shelter a small dog out of Magna Tiles, building blocks or Legos.
“The hardest concept for them to understand is that the doghouse needs to block the wind," said Sheryl Carini, a kindergarten teacher at Katonah Elementary School.
Kindergarteners build doghouses and record their decisions in a journal.
Each high school student is paired with a group of two or three kindergarteners.
It's very exciting!
There are smiles all around as the young students tell their high school buddy about the design choices they’ve made. Some children have included small areas for puppies. One group chose not to have windows so the dog wouldn’t see lightening and be scared. Another team was very concerned about hail and wanted a strong doghouse.
As the groups of six-year-olds watch high school students measure and sketch their doghouses, they also tell their high school buddy if they want a gable, flat, or shed-style roof—and why.
The Doghouse Designs are Replicated
Back at the high school, the older students create blueprints of each doghouse design in AutoCAD, then build them out of foam core. Care is taken to follow the kindergarteners’ design directives for the outside of the doghouses, too. Some are pink and blue brick, others are rainbow colored, one even has butterflies and flowers.
Soon the doghouses will be delivered to the elementary school classes. Each team of kindergarteners will construct a roof out of tin foil, cloth or newspaper and then test its efficiency to complete the project.
Students use drafting tools and computer aided design (CAD) and modeling software.
a kindergarten teacher's perspective
"The children enjoyed meeting their high school buddies and showing them their doghouse," said Paul Hughes, a teacher at Katonah Elementary School. "The collaboration was exciting for all students! Some of the high school students said, ‘Can I stay with my kindergarten buddy all day?’”
A high school student's perspective
“I’m on the high school’s basketball team," said Ian, one of the students who participated in the Doghouse Project. “The week after we visited Increase Miller Elementary, our team led a Saturday morning basketball program for kindergarteners. My student was there and he hugged me.”
A high school teacher's perspective
"The effect that Product and Place-Based Learning has on students is visible," said Steve Zoeller, the teacher of Design and Draw for Production. "Prior to the Doghouse Project, the students were asking what they needed to do to earn a good grade. Once they started on this project, they were asking how to accomplish a customer request from their kindergartner."