Griffin Middle School Students Design Tiny Houses

As a way to help their community look for a solution to a shortage in affordable homes, Griffin Middle School students recently partnered up to design and build models of tiny, energy-efficient homes.

The tiny home project transformed a real-world problem into a problem-based learning opportunity for all Griffin eighth graders. As part of the project, the students analyzed the Smyrna community’s proposed Windy Hill Concept and addressed the affordable housing shortage. The student designs focused on eco-friendly accommodations for “Sparta Pointe in Smyrna.” 

The students worked with a partner to construct and wire a three-room tiny house. Just as in a real-world construction project, the houses had to pass an electrical inspection.

“This project was so valuable for students,” said Melissa Barlow, who teaches advanced content and high school-level science classes. “They were learning about electricity, wiring, and Ohm’s law in a tangible way that also connected them to their local community.”

With a focus on energy efficiency, the students designed the houses with parallel circuits and working switches.

The Griffin students learned about basic circuit series and real-world applications of science and energy efficiency from Cedric Sheffield, an energy education coordinator with Georgia Power, who recently visited the students to help them with their tiny home project.

Eighth grade science teacher Dr. Amy Gilbert built on what Sheffield taught the students by demonstrating how to construct circuits to operate in their student-built tiny houses.

“This project-based learning is a great example of how differentiation and scaffolding can work successfully with all groups of students,” said Dr. Gilbert, who teaches on-level students. “Both on-level and advanced content students are being supported in their success.”