Looking for Project Ideas

Hello Teachers,

I am looking for new project ideas for my students. Ideally something that can be completed in about 4-45 minute class periods.

Currently, I have students practice by building a basic house and the pirate ship playhouse from tutorials provided by sketchup. Then, they build a house on their own. I’ve uploaded our rubric and directions page if you are interested in it. My issue is that the project takes too long and the program slows down quite a bit as their houses get more complex.

I was thinking of giving them a common object and having them design improvements to it? What projects do you use with your students?


4.5 Dream House Project Rubric.pdf (57.0 KB)
4.5 Dream House Project Directions.pdf (55.3 KB)

Maybe there could be an urban planning project. Buildings could be volumes (boxes) to save time but students would need to explain how they are reducing private motoring and hoe they save energy. There could also be social aspects involved such as fighting poverty and reducing crime.

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I can’t see what the students’s goal is. Is their target to eventually become architects? Or are these projects solely to improve their SketchUp skills?
Personally I think one needs to know how to use the 3D Warehouse (downloading/uploading etc ) but other than that it takes too much of their time as it is described in the Dream House Project List. It’s copying other 's work and doesn’t add much to the learning stuff. Too much points.

Depending on the target I (and/or others) might be able to think of other projects.

Thanks for the suggestions eneroth3.

Wo3Dan: I am a middle schools technology teacher. This applies to our Technology for Productivity Applications standard. We focus on the purpose and function of different software programs. We also put an emphasis on design. Through their experience I point out strategies for learning new software as they will always need to be able to adapt to new changes in technology.

So any project that utilized the software and allows them to independently create with their newly developed skills would be great. In their next tech course they focus on the design process and making iterations in preparation for programming. That’s why I thought making improvements on an existing product may be a good direction to go.


Modeling a simple real world object like say a coffee cup to actual dimensions is a great exercise. This includes taking measurements of the object which is a great skill and also leads into exploring the question of how close is close enough? There is always more detail to explore too, is the handle rounded? Is the underside dished accurately? What’s the radius on the rounding of the upper edge? Applying photo texture?


EF makes a good suggestion. Modeling things around them is good practice and gives good feedback about how they are doing.

Have them design and build a “tiny house” instead of a “dream home”

The minute you call it a “dream home” they’ll add all sorts of spa pools and flamingos

Modelling furniture would be easy -

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I remember for my design and technology lessons one topic was a desktop lamp, that was adjustable. No computers mind, we were given an existing design that we had to draw and then brainstorm around it with comments about it. What we liked, what we would change etc,etc…(I think I still have it in the attic)
Just an idea.

This year, I’ve had the students drawing a tiny house based on one that another teacher found online and wants to build in Maker Space. We’re not doing design in my class, but yet another teacher is having the students design one in a different class on a different day, so it’s kind of a theme to a series of classes. My class actually starts with T-squares and foam core and then moves to SketchUp. Drawing on 11x17 paper size was a driving factor, and in previous years, that has been house plans with a foot print of 600~1,000 s.f., but a tiny house allowed three different views. Trying to teach design while learning SketchUp is possibly too many learning goals for one class.

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Great idea. It is something everyone is familiar with and they can easily make changes to fit different needs and preferences.

I also have a Maker Space club. If my students design tiny houses the club could probably create models. Thank you for listing the square footage. If you have any other resources (lesson plans, rubrics, examples) I would love to see them.

Not a teacher but why not have them split into pairs and model the room they are in. One person records dimensions and gives to the other one. This way they learn about accurate surveying, sketch drawing for communication and Sketchup. Next class swap the roles. This could start as a basic room model and expand to include furniture, textures etc as they get better


That’s actually one of the things I was considering.

I also considered having them design a stand for their phone or tablet (that would prop it up for easy viewing) and work toward something that could be 3D printed on the school’s printer.

This year I tried giving my instructions in the form of videos, and now I keep joking that I finally found a way to get the iGeneration to listen to me. The design used here was chosen by another teacher, and came from TinyHousePlans.com. Specifically, the 8x16 Tiny House. (Look around his site, BTW, and he’s clearly using SketchUp to do all his work.) The trailer came from 3D Warehouse, but I had to shorten it to 16’ bed. The door and window components are my own.


I also am teaching this to Middle School students. After doing the curriculum lessons, we started with trying to design a pencil case. We’ll also be looking at designing buildings of the future, incorporating as many modern and innovative elements as we can. Hopefully this enables students with basic skills to at least design a rectangular building and more capable students to work more intricate concepts.

I am very interested in finding more resources that take concepts from design to print. The curriculum only works the graphics, and those aren’t necessarily printable. I’ll start a new thread, but anyone who knows of good tutorial videos on the actual printing would be greatly appreciated.

This looks very interesting. Do all the students end up creating the same tiny house, similar to the one you made?

Yes, they were all working to model the same thing at their own pace watching my instruction videos. A few students found the time to work on their own designs, but the required lesson was to draw the same Tiny House example.

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And here’s the follow through. Many of my students and others now building one with real studs and plywood.


@RTCool Awesome! Thanks for sharing!

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