Explaining Tiny Houses to High School Students

Yesterday Matt and I made our long awaited return to the amazing Anne Richards School in Austin, Texas. You might remember our visit last year, where we were brought in to teach the all-girls engineering class for 2 weeks, as they were doing the first COMET Camper-inspired curriculum, Project  Ventura. The girls had to design an eco-friendly trailer to be used by the school community.

This is the Airstream camper (a 1977) that the class must renovate into a teacher's lounge. Right now it is completely gutted.

This is the Airstream camper (a 1977) that the class must renovate into a teacher's lounge. Right now it is completely gutted.

This year, the girls of the Anne Richards School have a bigger budget and a bigger project: to turn a huge Airstream trailer into a teacher's lounge powered by solar panels. We are so excited to be in Austin again hanging out with these amazing high school girls. Their passion and innovation is incredible. I keep telling them how lucky they are to be restoring vintage trailers as a school project! I think they realize the importance of the project and the opportunity it creates.

So yesterday Matt and I gave the class our introduction to Tiny Houses. I'm used to giving this presentation to groups of older people - people living on their own already, and people with jobs and kids. But giving the presentation to high school students was totally different! They could see the COMET lifestyle (either in a trailer or tiny house) as a way out of their parent's house, or as an alternative to expensive college dorm housing. We heard many of the girls exclaiming "I have to rethink my whole life now!!", which was awesome!

What really got them excited was seeing Matt and I's micro-camper - our Honda Element turned camper-mobile for our 3 month Tiny House Road Trip. After showing them a slide show of the COMET camper and about unique, historic tiny homes, we went outside to the parking lot and showed how we are living for the next 3 months (and possibly for longer...!). They weren't weirded out or anything, they thought it was awesome! You could tell how interested they were in a lifestyle of freedom and independence. They asked many questions and were interested to see all of the modifications we had made in the camper: the pull-out modular bed, the pop-up table that we use to eat meals at, and the clever storage we've implemented throughout the microcamper car. We explained to the class all of the immediate and long-term benefits of living in a small space like this. The obvious ones such as lower environmental impact and financial advantages, but also the less obvious benefits such as increased happiness, physical fitness, and good habits formed for life by living in a small space. I hope that we inspired a few of the girls to look into tiny living as they approach independent living and going to college!

Here are some photos from yesterday's class. Tomorrow we will be giving our Solar/Photovoltaics presentation and will be going through the electrical system in the Airstream with them. The class is both hands-on and in the classroom. Yesterday we saw many girls use a chop-saw for the first time. It was awesome! Many of the students said that the hands on building has been their favorite part, and they are antsy if they have to sit in the classroom for too long.

Each student had to propose a design for the Airstream teacher's lounge. One winning design was voted on by the teachers and chosen to be implemented. The class made amazing models!

Each student had to propose a design for the Airstream teacher's lounge. One winning design was voted on by the teachers and chosen to be implemented. The class made amazing models!

One student from last year's class made this cute model of the original Ventura trailer - it was a 1977 Play-Mor I think?

One student from last year's class made this cute model of the original Ventura trailer - it was a 1977 Play-Mor I think?

Here you can see Matt explaining life in the micro-camper Element to the girls. They thought it was cool!

Here you can see Matt explaining life in the micro-camper Element to the girls. They thought it was cool!

Matt is explaining how we insulate the car camper on cold nights with these felt-backed reflectix panels in the windows. You can also see our bed area in the back of the camper-car, which is on a raised platform. We have lots of storage above our heads, and that blue bottle is for peeing in at night. We definitely told them all of the details - both good and bad!

Matt is explaining how we insulate the car camper on cold nights with these felt-backed reflectix panels in the windows. You can also see our bed area in the back of the camper-car, which is on a raised platform. We have lots of storage above our heads, and that blue bottle is for peeing in at night. We definitely told them all of the details - both good and bad!

Woo hoo! Let's hear it for living outside of the lines!

Woo hoo! Let's hear it for living outside of the lines!