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6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Visual and Performing Arts, Engineering

Resource Types

  • Activity - Classroom
  • Worksheets
  • Lesson Plans, 60 minutes

Regional Focus




Design Your Own Earthship

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  • This is an activity to design an Earthship, which is a self-sustaining shelter made from natural and upcycled materials. 
  • Students need to account for food, energy, water, heating/cooling, ventilation, and waste management in their plan. 

Teaching Tips


  • It is an excellent way for students to apply their knowledge of sustainability to develop creative climate solutions.
  • This can be used as a homework assignment or as an activity in class.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Teachers should make sure to go over the instructions with the students.
  • The students may require assistance and advice on how to theoretically source the required materials.


  • Teachers could introduce students to Earthships by telling them about the Earthship community in New Mexico.
  • This activity is ideal for lessons on technical drawing or design.
  • In the classroom, teachers could make this a group activity and expand the project to include researching design ideas and presenting their design to the class.
  • Other engaging design projects are Making a solar Oven and Build Your Own Equitable City.
Scientist Notes
This open-ended activity challenges students to design their own "Earthship" building (via a cross-section schematic) that is off-grid and is constructed using reclaimed or recycled materials. This activity does not explain where the term "Earthship" originates, so some additional clarification from the teacher may be needed. This activity is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ETS1: Engineering Design
      • MS-ETS1-1 Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • MS-LS2-5 Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services.
  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Visual Arts: Standard 2 - Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
      • VA:Cr2.3.7a Apply visual organizational strategies to design and produce a work of art, design, or media that clearly communicates information or ideas.
      • VA:Cr2.3.6a Design or redesign objects, places, or systems that meet the identified needs of diverse users.
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