Designing projects that fit within a set of constraints is a big part of the curricular competencies required of students throughout the ADST and Woodwork curriculum. This project is set up as two lessons in which teachers and students identify inspiration and construction parameters of their bird houses before getting started with building. The project is student-led and student-designed, with the teacher taking more of facilitating and mentoring role. Students will be drawing inspiration from the architecture and style of a specific human home structure to model their birdhouse after, and also designing their bird house with specific dimensional constraints based on the nesting box needs of a local bird species. Download Project
Tools & Materials
- Large blank paper or graph paper for lists, brainstorning and design sketches
- Sticky notes (3 pads or so)
- General current knowledge of local housing issues
- Photocopies of any of the procedures in this book as examples for students to follow
- “Homework Guide” photocopies (one per student)
- Photocopies of the “Design Guide” handout page - downloaded via the link above
- Computers with internet access (one per pair of students)
- Pencils and erasers
--LESSON ONE: UNDERSTANDING CONTEXT--
INSPIRATION - Types of Human Homes
Intro: 10 minutes - Give students blank note paper or a pad of sticky notes and get them into groups of two to four. Have them brainstorm and note down all the types of human accommodation or homes in their community or area they can think of. For example, apartment buildings, single-family homes, etc. Get them to think beyond what their own home situations are and come up with as many different structures a human could use for a shelter as they can. Discuss as a class and add sticky notes to the wall or board to make a master list students can draw inspiration from.
Discussion: 15 minutes - As a class, or in their groups, get them to discuss (and answer in writing, if you think applicable) the following questions regarding the sticky notes on the board: •
CONSTRAINTS - Local Bird Species That Use Bird Houses
Brainstorming: 10 minutes - Think-Pair-Share. Hand students blank note paper and have them individually make a list of as many bird species that they know live in their local area. Next, students discuss and share their list with a partner. As a class, note down all the bird species on sticky notes and put on the board. Have the students assist you in grouping the birds into the following categories: “Birds that they think use bird houses”, “birds they don’t think that use bird houses”.
Research: 15 minutes - In pairs, students use their computers to research which types of local birds use bird houses. Students collaboratively rearrange their sticky notes (and add sticky notes with species they didn’t come up with on their own) to make a list of birds that would utilize birdhouses that they make. Students copy this list out on their homework guide sheet before the end of class.
Hand out the Homework Guide sheet and have students copy their list of birds that use birdhouses from the sticky notes on the wall/board. Read over the homework assignment with them.
--LESSON TWO: DESIGNING WITH CONSTRAINTS--
Research: 20 minutes - Students search online to find the optimal house dimensions for their chosen bird species (including the access hole diameter and position). Hand out the large blank paper, and have students draw a rough to-scale sketch (including all dimension indications) to illustrate the measurement constraints. You may choose to discuss how houses with species-customized dimensions are less likely to be used by types of birds other than their chosen species.
Designing and writing procedure: 40 + minutes Students may choose to print copies of the pictures they took of their chosen building in order to take measurements from. Students adapt their rough sketch from the first part of the lesson to incorporate the design of the human built structure they chose. Once they have a basic sketch, hand out the “Design Guide” photocopy and the photocopies of the sample procedures so they can begin to write their own step-by-step procedure. Encourage students to keep making new sketches of their birdhouse plan and updated procedure versions until they get the joinery and dimensions to their liking (from the curriculum, “students are expected to do the following: Prototype, making changes to tools, materials, and procedures as needed”, and “record iterations of prototyping”). They must draw and describe it in enough detail that someone who had no idea what the project was would be able to build it just by looking at their plans. You may choose to include a peer assessment component, where students give each other feedback about how clear their procedure reads to someone who isn’t familiar with the structure and design. Students who need a challenge could be encouraged to utilize more intricate joinery at the corners and add more detail from the original large structure into their bird house mode.