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Design Students Learn a Skill – and the Importance of Charity

Walled Lake students built prototypes that can be easily replicated to help the world’s homeless population.

Some Walled Lake seventh- and eight-graders built prototypes for homeless shelters in a project that taught them the value of giving back to others. (Photo submitted)
Some Walled Lake seventh- and eight-graders built prototypes for homeless shelters in a project that taught them the value of giving back to others. (Photo submitted)

By Courtney Bledsoe

A Walled Lake teacher believes the best way to change his students’ lives is to give them the tools they need to change the lives of others.

So Kevin Olson, a design tech teacher at Clifford H. Smart Middle School, handed them hammers, nails and a bucketful of encouragement in a project that will the lives of some of southeast Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens.

“I want the students to understand that helping people and developing relationships is what life is about,” he told Patch. “I also wanted them to gain experience in design process and working with their hands.”

His seventh- and eighth-grade students constructed three different models of pallet style homeless shelters. All of the shelters were constructed from recyclable materials.

Each prototype includes furniture, primitive heating and cooling systems for cooking, water collection systems, insulation and other bare-bones essentials.

The goal of the project was for students to create an easy system for volunteer groups to construct, making these shelters a viable option for the homeless in southeast Michigan and around the world.

The project took 12 weeks to complete and each class had a specific assignment. Each class was organized under a fictitious company divided into four divisions: construction, alternative energy, furniture and presentation. A timeline was created to guide students through the project.

“Communication and directing their own learning through daily goals was a huge part of this project,” Olson said.


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