Scriber Lake students build tiny house for homeless

Students at Edmonds-based Scriber Lake High School got a real-world lesson in why math matters during a week-long project building a tiny house for a homeless women’s encampment

According to Scriber Lake Principal Andrea Hillman, the school has wanted to do a building project for a long time. Everything came together thanks to Bob Perkins, who sits on the board of Seattle-based nonprofit Sawhorse Revolution and is also married to a Scriber Lake counselor.

Sawhorse Revolution teaches high school students building skills, and received a King County grant to build 10 houses this year. Perkins said that Sawhorse will build four or five houses on its own and is partnering with other organizations — including Scriber — to produce the rest.

Scriber Lake High School has one-week mini-courses, such as this, taught between the first and second quarter and between the third and fourth quarter. They are all day, every day for those five days only.

“We do super-hands-on, engaging, high-interest courses that offer credit,” Hillman said.

Two math teachers work on the houses with the students, who receive general elective credit. Additionally, if the students need to complete some math credit, they also have a real-life math lesson daily after lunch to connect the math with their project, she explained.

“This has been a really, really great crew,” said Bob Perkins of Sawhorse Revolution. “These kids are kinda amazing. They’ve really been focused and they’ve been working hard.”

The students have been learning many different skills. Each one received a tape measure to take home, in the hope they will build something. Perkins said two students were talking about building their own tiny house this summer. The students have been learning how to deal with fractions and also use several power tools such as the chop saw, circular saw and power nailers.

The crew started with the foundation, building the frame and adding insulation. One of the pieces of feedback from individuals who live in the tiny houses, which have no power or water, is that the floors get cold. The students are trying to solve this issue by insulating the floors and the walls as much as possible. The basic design of the house came from the Low Income Housing Institute, which coordinates many of the tiny house villages in the Seattle area.

“Whoever gets this is going to have a really nice little home,” Perkins said.

Scriber Lake students participated in a number of mini-courses during the past week. Another group of students visited college campuses and worked on the FAFSA financial aid form, college essays and scholarships. In addition, a group called Making it in the Music Industry lets students explore music-related careers and jobs. Other students are spending the week at the YMCA learning water survival and taking other classes.

“That’s what we try to do with all of our mini courses,” Hillman said. “Make what you’re learning really relevant, so kids can really see why we study what we study.”

— By Hannah Horiatis

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