Classroom Without Borders - A 7th Grade Interdisciplinary Project

Project Based Learning, PBL, Project-Based Learning

Title: Builders Without Borders

Grade: 7

Length: 4 - 6 Weeks

Entry Event:

Viewing of “Junk Raiders” - a Canadian reality show that challenges participants to construct structures using upcycled materials on extremely limited budgets. Slideshow of recent tragic environmental disasters, such as the earthquake in Nepal. This would be followed by a quick investigation into the organization Builders Without Borders. Students will be given a one-page Design Brief.

Focusing Question:

How can we design and build a temporary living structure in response to a humanitarian crisis?

Engaging Context:

As engineers, design and build a temporary living structure for the victims of a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis, such as those impacted by the earthquake in Nepal. Sustainability should be addressed through the idea of upcycling materials for the structure. Structures should be stable and sturdy, last at least two years, be inexpensive, constructed from readily available materials, and should withstand the relevant environmental conditions and elements. You will present your engineering blueprints and prototype to a panel comprised of members of Builders Without Borders.

Learning Outcomes:

The Engineering Design Cycle


Heat and Temperature

-Analyze issues related to the selection and use of thermal technologies, and explain decisions in terms of advantages and disadvantages for sustainability.

Structures and Forces

-Demonstrate and describe processes used in developing, evaluating and improving structures that will meet human needs with a margin of safety

-Investigate and analyze the properties of materials used in structures

-Describe and interpret different types of structures encountered in everyday objects, buildings, plants and animals; and identify materials from which they are made

-Investigate and analyze forces within structures, and forces applied to them


Shape and Space

-Describe the characteristics of 3-D objects and 2-D shapes, and analyze the relationships among them.

-Perform geometric constructions, including: • perpendicular line segments • parallel line segments • perpendicular bisectors • angle bisectors.

Language Arts

-Enhance the clarity and artistry of communication

Tangible Outcomes:

Engineer’s Notebook (individual journal)

Blueprint (individual)

Prototype (Team)

Presentation/Pitch (Team)

Individual Assessments on key learning outcomes

Adult World Involvement:

Individuals involved in international aid work, Builders without Borders, Engineers, the Engineering Design Cycle, Construction, Current Events. Builders Without Borders will offer feedback and possibly use their design for an affected area.

What We Love About Our Project: Global Awareness, action-oriented thinking and authentic problem solving.

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