Tiny houses designed and constructed by students in Eastern Kentucky school districts are available to buy via auction for the remainder of June.
According to the website Tinyhomebuilders.com, the tiny house movement “is a social movement where people are choosing to downsize their living space.
“The typical American home is around 2,600 square feet. The typical small or tiny house is between 100 and 400 square feet. Tiny houses come in all shapes, sizes, and forms and enable simpler living in a smaller, more efficient space,” the website said.
People joining the movement have environmental concerns, financial issues or a desire for more time and freedom. The trend is well documented. Television shows showcase the latest in tiny homes, their fans and builders.
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In Kentucky, tiny houses are big teaching tools. The Building it Forward project, sponsored by the Hazard-based Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative is an investment in creating a "future story" for students interested in learning skills for a real-world career, according to Ron Daley, the strategic partner lead at the cooperative.
The completed homes are auctioned and the money re-invested to complete a new tiny house each year. After the auctions, each school gets the starting bid amount of $15,000 plus 80 percent of any sale price above that to finance its next tiny house.
All houses are on display at 412 Roy Campbell Drive in Hazard, adjacent to the cooperative offices. The auction ends June 30, after which buyers will have 15 days to pick up their homes.
The goal is fun, hands-on development of skills that students can use when they graduate.
“We have many students in our schools who learn better and can more fully comprehend learning through hands-on learning,” said Dessie Bowling, associate director of the cooperative.
“We have found that some students need to be able to visualize a purpose for learning math, science or physics. Designing and building a tiny house gives them that purpose,” said Bowling. “Students take great pride in their work. They learn how to be an effective team member and how to problem-solve. They learn to have grit because they work on a timeline and within a budget. “
Research has shown that students who can practice or perform with their hands while they learn remember the material better, feel a sense of accomplishment , and are able to transfer that experience easier to other learning situations, Daley said.
“There is nothing I’ve ever done that compares to this project,” said Danny Vance, principal of the Knott County Area Technology Center. “We would not have been able to complete the project without backing from local industry.”
Student Joe Johnson said he had learned about plumbing, flooring and siding.
“It’s really helped me to figure out who I really am,” said Johnson.
Victor Pennington, a teacher from Leslie County, said students put in extra time on the projects on weekends.
“The design is truly a team effort,” said Pennington.” I would put it up against a tiny house anywhere.”
The nine Tiny Houses people can tour and bid on were constructed by Breathitt County Area Technology Center/Jackson Independent; Floyd County Area Technology Center; Johnson County High School CTE; Knott County Area Technology Center; Lee County Area Technology Center/Owsley County/Wolfe County; Leslie County Area Technology Center; Letcher County Area Technology Center/Jenkins Independent; and Phelps High School in Pike County. Two houses are from Lee County.
Bids can be placed at theholler.org/auctions/