Students at John Paul II Catholic School in Port Alberni have been working to design and develop a sustainable tiny home—using only materials that they found in the recycling bin.
The Tiny Home Challenge is a new elective course for students that is meant to supplement normal curriculum. Led by teacher Toban Brooks, students have spent the school year building their own tiny home models using cardboard, popsicle sticks, cotton balls, plastic straws and any kind of recycled materials they could get their hands on.
The challenge was started by a B.C.-based organization called Micro Housing Macro Impact, founded by Forbes Latimer. The organization focuses on innovative and socially responsible housing solutions for homelessness and housing shortages.
“They’re all about building tiny houses,” said Brooks. “It’s a way to help with some of the housing problems in the world right now. Their focus has been on the younger generation, because they’re the ones who are going to be the most affected by it.”
The group is planning to host a global design competition every year, open to students 17 years old and younger. But they wanted to start with a small pilot competition.
“They were looking for a pilot school,” said Brooks. “It kind of landed in our laps.”
There are 14 students from Grades 4 to 7 working on their own or as a team to design their own tiny homes, using only recycled materials to construct the models. Brooks said the students have been working on their homes twice a week, from November to April. The designs incorporate concepts like multi-purpose amenities and a reduced carbon footprint.
“They came up with some amazing ideas,” said Brooks. “Now the projects are complete. We’re just working on the presentation.”
On Thursday, June 10, the school will be holding a livestreamed event to select a winning design. There will be several judges, including Port Alberni’s own mayor, Sharie Minions.
One winner will have a one-on-one Zoom call with Zack Giffin of Netflix’s Tiny House Nation. The top three winners will receive scholarship awards towards STEM Xposure’s Global Tiny Home Experience Virtual Summer Camp—an architectural design and construction camp, where children and teens from around the world will have a chance to design a tiny home that will actually be built.
The competition will judge students on seven different elements: originality, functionality, affordability, looks, presentation, innovation and impacts.
“They look at what kind of a difference could this home make moving forward,” Brooks explained.