Make a Model of a Home Made From Shipping Containers

Make a Model of a Home Made From Shipping Containers

Grade Level

6 - 8


15 min - 1 hr



Activity Type:

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] for a chance to be included in the activity slideshow.

“Living Inside the Box,” by Flora Lichtman

Materials Needed

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

Safety Considerations: Practice common-sense safety with scissors, glue, and tape dispensers.

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About Ariel Zych

Ariel Zych is Science Friday’s education manager. She is a former teacher and scientist who spends her free time making food, watching arthropods, and being outside.