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Student Pages


Index of Projects

Subject: Physical Science, Construction Technology II and III

Grade Level: Grades 9, 11, and 12


The Greenhouse Project consists of the design and construction of a working greenhouse for the Plymouth Regional High School science department. The students will be taking charge of all facets of the project, including needs assessment, greenhouse basics, building design, funding proposal, project proposal presentation, and construction. It will be a multi-disciplinary project joining freshman physical science students and junior and senior vocational building trades students.

Learner Description/Environment:

Plymouth Regional High School is located in central New Hampshire and serves a student population of about 850 students from seven towns. The attached regional vocational center accepts students from two other high schools, in addition to our own students.

The students in this project will be guided by a physical science teacher, a construction technology teacher, and a library media specialist. Additional assistance, as needed, may be provided by the computer coordinator, business technology teacher, grant coordinator, library and audiovisual staff, and other students from various classes.

In addition to a small number of computers in their classrooms, the students also have access to computers, internet, scanners, LCD panels and video projection, and a variety of print and non-print resources in the Library Media Center and in the Curriculum Lab across the hall. The Curriculum Lab has 25 networked Internet accessible computers and is accessible by individual students or may be scheduled for use by a whole class.

Time Frame:

The stages from needs assessment through project presentation to the school board will take approximately six to eight weeks in the spring. Actual construction of the greenhouse will be accomplished by the Construction Technology II and III students during the following school year.

Learner Outcomes:

  1. Students will conduct a needs assessment and apply knowledge gained to the solution of a real world problem.
  2. Students will apply scientific knowledge in a design and manufacturing process.
  3. Students will access, critically evaluate and utilize information from a variety of sources (technical journals, curriculum standards, professionals in the science and construction fields).
  4. Students will communicate via e-mail, list serve, and chat.
  5. Students will use CAD software, spreadsheets and scheduling software to plan the design and construction of the greenhouse.
  6. Students will draft a construction plan from concept to completion.
  7. Students will locate, pursue, and secure funding.
  8. Students will create and present a proposal to an outside agency (school board) for approval.
  9. Students will utilize a blueprint to build a structure satisfying architectural specifications.

Structure of the Learning:


A recently approved bond issue at the high school includes, among other things, a major renovation of the science facilities. Early in the process, the science staff recommended that a greenhouse be included to address a variety of curriculum goals. However, the greenhouse was eventually eliminated from the bond proposal. Now the students from physical science and construction technology are being given the opportunity to become consultants and contractors for a greenhouse project. By combining their knowledge and skills in science and construction fields, the students will carry the project from needs assessment through to the actual construction of a new facility on their school grounds.


The project starts with the science students conducting a needs assessment, to identify why a green house is needed. The construction technology students are simultaneously investigating the basic designs, requirements and location issues of a typical greenhouse. From that point, the successive stages involve a variety of interdisciplinary groups, with each stage building on the information gathered in the previous stage. Student "experts" from a previous group reform into new group combinations to analyze and build upon the previous research and reach a new set of conclusions for their topic, to be presented orally (and in writing) to the next group. Each group or series of groups includes a different mix of science and construction technology students, with each student having the experience of being a group leader. The process of "backward planning" is also to be used within the groups.

Although the instructors have planned groups for each of the major sections, the size and number of students in these groups are subject to modification. For example, if, as a result of research into design basics, a fourth style of greenhouse is discovered that students would like to pursue, the project could easily be modified to utilize four teams of six, instead of three teams of eight. By the same token, the Needs Assessment, Greenhouse Basics and Funding groups could also be modified per student request.


Each group is responsible for compiling the results of its research and presenting the group's conclusions orally and in writing to the students who will be members of the groups for the next step. Additionally, the information and conclusions compiled by one group become the foundation upon which the next group(s) builds. For example, the Building Design groups use information from the Needs Assessment and Greenhouse Basics groups to create a design and determine a site for the greenhouse. The conclusions of all the groups become the comprehensive proposal which is presented to the School Board. The culminating, and very visible, product will be the greenhouse itself, constructed by students on school grounds and used by students in support of the curriculum.

Best Use of Technology:

Computers and the internet provide access to a great deal of information for this project -- from researching state curriculum standards, to contacting other schools with greenhouses, to contacting greenhouse professionals and suppliers. It also provides the major means of communication, such as e-mailing a school to determine how they planned, built and used their greenhouse; or joining a listserv of greenhouse professionals to elicit advice on greenhouse features; or contacting suppliers for prices of materials. The construction technology students also use CD-ROM programs to research greenhouse designs and CAD software, spreadsheets and scheduling software to plan the design and construction of the greenhouse. Intermediate reports by the groups and the final presentation to the School Board will involve a variety of technology, from word processing and graphics design for written components, web page design for the school website (with FrontPage), presentation software (such as PowerPoint), LCD panel, overhead projector, and/or AverKey.


Assessment of the students' work will involve rubrics designed for each group's set of tasks, i.e., Needs Assessment, Greenhouse Basics, Building Design, Funding, Project Approval, and Leadership. The major components within the rubrics address research, oral presentation and written summary (including effectiveness as a resource for subsequent components of the project). Students will become acquainted with the rubrics in advance and can use them as checkpoints for themselves as their work progresses. The majority of the rubrics will be scored by the instructors. However, the oral presentation rubric will combine assessment by the instructors and the students' peers.

Project Evaluation:

As this project has four sequential components, at the completion of each component the three instructors will meet as a team to discuss what worked well and any necessary modifications to the plan for the remainder of the project.   Data to be accessed for this meeting would include student feedback as provided on the oral presentation evaluation forms as well as student success/failure as indicated by scores on the rubric for that particular component. Modifications in terms of the amount of guidance to be provided could easily be made at each juncture.

In the students' eyes, school board approval of the project and completion of the construction of the greenhouse will probably be the primary indicator of project sucess. The instructors' evaluation however, will focus more on the students' development of skills in the areas of research, presentation, and use of technology.

The opportunities to use this particular project at our school again are slim. If we are successful in obtaining approval for and constructing a greenhouse that will meet curriculum needs, there should be little need for a second greenhouse in the near future. However, with minor modifications, the project could be used to construct other facilities for our school. One idea that comes immediately to mind is a "student lounge" for earned time students as currently they have no area in which to gather except the library.

Alignment with Standards:

Construction Technology Standards
Developed by Plymouth Regional High School Building Trades Instructors and Craft Committee

Building Trades I

Building Trades II

Building Trades III

New Hampshire K-12 Science Curriculum Framework

1a. Students will demonstrate an increasing understanding of how the scientific enterprise operates.

2c. Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to analyze, synthesize, and communicate scientific information using technology.

2d. Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to understand how technology is used to synthesize new products.

5c. Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to understand the relationships among different types and forms of energy.

5d. Students will demonstrate an increasing understanding of how electrical and magnetic systems interact with matter and energy.

5f. Students will demonstrate an increasing understanding that energy can be transmitted by waves, using light and sound as examples.

6a. Students will demonstrate an increasing ability to recognize parts of any object or system, and understand how the parts interrelate in the operation of that object or system.

6c. Students will understand the meaning of models, their appropriate use and limitations, and how models can help them in understanding the natural world

6d. Students will increasingly quantify their interactions with phenomena in the natural world, use these results to understand differences of scale in objects and systems, and determine how changes in scale affect various properties of those objects and systems.

** All specific proficiency standards apply to 10th grade except those marked with the double asterisk. Those standards are actually proficiency standards at the 6th grade level. They are included here as they will be addressed as part of this project and are not currently taught within the elementary/middle school science curriculums.

These standards are also closely associated with the National Science Education Standards.

Information Power: The Nine Literacy Standards for Student Learning (ALA/AASL)

Standard 1: The student who is information literate accesses information efficiently and effectively.

Standard 2: The students who is information literate evaluates information critically and competently.

Standard 3: The student who is information literate uses information accurately and creatively.

Standard 6: The student who is an independent learner is information literate and strives for excellence in information seeking and knowledge generation.

Standard 8: The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and practices ethical behavior in regard to information and information technology.

Standard 9: The student who contributes positively to the learning community and to society is information literate and participates effectively in groups to pursue and generate information.

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Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

Authors: Ina Ahern, Mardean Badger, and Doug Ross
School: Plymouth Regional High School, Plymouth, New Hampshire
Created: April 27,1999 - Updated: May 03, 1999