6 - 8
15 min - 1 hr
Shipping containers, also called freight containers or intermodal containers, are large, reusable steel boxes typically used to transport materials and products all around the world. They are durable, watertight, and stackable, making them easy to transfer between boats, trains, or trucks. Although these huge boxes have been used in the shipping industry for more than 60 years, only recently have homebuilders begun converting them into finished homes.
Watch the video below to learn about a couple who built a home out of shipping containers in Brooklyn, New York. Next, design and build a 3D scale model of a shipping container home using printed cutouts. Use these models to practice basic calculations of ratio, volume, and surface area to estimate the amount of flooring and paint needed, and what size windows and doors to include. Send a picture of your original design to educate[at]sciencefriday.com for a chance to be included in the activity slideshow.
“Living Inside the Box,” by Flora Lichtman
2-3 copies of shipping container cutout printed on standard copy paper
Clear tape or glue sticks
Optional: Printed “Student Calculations Worksheet”
Optional: Calculators, markers, or toothpicks for embellishing finished models