By: Kathy Lohse

 *This is part three of a six-part series exploring Projects with Purpose. Find part two here. 

How do we make our collective vision a reality?

We started by creating a list of Knowns and Unknowns about what we knew about building sculptures. We then prioritized the tasks we believed we needed to get done based on their urgency and importance. The first task the students finished was to request a meeting with the principal to seek permission to build the sculpture and a request to the art teacher’s assistance.

The next part of our process involved doing some research. The class took a tour of the murals and art pieces that were already displayed at Borton. There is a tree made out of rebar in one of the gardens at the school that my husband made for my birthday. The students saw the rebar could be bent and then welded together. The students knew they would need help in building so they asked: “Do you think your husband could be a building expert?” 

How will we know if our sculpture design will work?
Students from The Shooting Stars room with their PVC pipe prototype.

Before they were ready to build, the students needed to create a prototype, or first draft, of the sculpture frame. I happened to have a lot of PVC pipe from a previous project, so it was the perfect low-cost material for prototyping. The students had to do a lot of “imagining” about the frame itself to fulfill all their desired design elements, but they got the prototype to stand up, arches and all! In thinking about the frame, the students brought up the need for an engineer to check the design and give feedback.

Want to know how The Shooting Stars will plug in local experts and engage their school community? Stay tuned for part four of the Projects with Purpose series – Test & Engage Community.


  • Knowns & Unknowns – use sticky notes to inventory all you know about the project and everything you need to know.


About the Educators:

Kathy Lohse is the PBL Coordinator at Borton Magnet School. Sheila Encinas is the teacher in The Shooting Star room. Borton Magnet School, in Tucson, Arizona, prioritizes Project-Based Learning and Systems Thinking.

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