Students give back through practical (tiny) learning

East Lake Golf Club employs a tag line that connects the historic course to its bigger mission of serving and supporting the surrounding community – Golf With A Purpose. At Drew Charter School, a part of the cradle-to-college education pipeline in the East Lake Neighborhood, students are doing their part to give back, albeit through a different avenue.

Students in Beth White’s engineering class are applying the STEAM skills they’re learning in the classroom into the design and construction of a “tiny house.” Roughly 800 square feet in size, the house will be fully equipped and serve as a home on a year-by-year basis for AmeriCorps volunteers who serve Drew Charter School.

White says the AmeriCorps volunteers provide a wide variety of services throughout the school year that are invaluable for students, but their stipends are often not enough to cover their expenses. Drew Charter students opted to take their classroom knowledge and build a home that could help combat the cost of living challenges faced by the annual AmeriCorps volunteers.

Last year’s class mapped out the design of the tiny house, and this one’s is working on the construction and next phase of design, such as the house’s electrical wiring and plumbing.

“It’s been interesting because it’s an engineering class and they use the design process to solve the problems, but this group is building from a previous class’s plan,” said White. “This group is working more on a building, but they also are going through their own design process for the interior.”

White said the experiences that come from these projects are invaluable.

“It’s very, very real world because every kid has a different role,” said White. “The reason you collaborate is because you may not have a particular set of skills that others might have, so this teaches them how to work together to accomplish a goal.

“It’s also for our third-year students, and it’s a really hard project. They have to do a rough draft and refine it, so it improves their grit and helps shape them for the future.”

[Photo credit: Gary Sheppard]