The Design Classroom Becomes a 3D Makerspace for the 8th Grade Model Chair Project

Update · March 8, 2018

By Pat Hough, Middle School Design Teacher and Technology Integration Director

During the first semester, the 8th Grade students started a unit on three-dimensional design. The project required students to design chairs, first using two and three-dimensional drawing skills, and later transferring their ideas into a three dimensional modeling program called “SketchUp”. Their final assessment for the unit was the finished 3D chair.

We began by doing some research on the history of chairs. It was fascinating to see that as art and architecture evolved over time, chair design did too. But their purpose never has; for millennia people have needed a place to sit. As such, the chair is a perfect marker for the ever-changing history of design.

The students continued their exploration by searching for images of many different types of chairs. After researching, they made sketches of four separate chair designs using paper and pencil.

After doing pencil sketches, each student completed a self-directed tutorial on SketchUp. They then used their new technology skills to transfer their sketched designs into SketchUp models. This digital model became the first summative assessment for the unit.

In order to accommodate the building of their chairs, the Design classroom at the Annex was transformed into a 3D makerspace for the students. Hand saws, coping saws, sandpaper, precision knives, craft glue, hot glue, foam core board, and cardboard became our building materials. Finished wooden models were primed and painted. Foam core and cardboard models were carefully glued together and colored with markers. Their hand-built chair became the second summative assessment for the unit. At the culmination of the project, the students were very happy with all they had accomplished and learned.

Student Reflections


“While designing my chairs I was keeping in mind what I would personally have interest in and what would be the most interesting to make. As the different ideas evolved, I wanted to create something that would be a standout design and that could even induce sentiments in others, whether it be nostalgia or horror.” -Cypress


“I was thinking of how I could make my chair be a place that was comfortable to sleep (I was tired that day). I continued with that idea towards the end and made a mattress next to a small couch in my chair. I asked myself whether I should make a normal chair or make a chair that you could probably live in as well. In the beginning, I decided to continue with the idea of an actual chair. Once I had finished my design on Sketchup, I decided to do something a little different.“  -Shirin

The finished chairs are currently on display in the Learning Commons, located in the Lower Level of the West Building!