Underwater Dome Assignment

Mission: Build Mr. Kiang’s New Office

So far this semester, I have asked my students to work in different collaborative ways:

  • On their own (Build your own House)
  • Assigned Groups (Build a Way Station)
  • Groups of their own Choice (Build a Learning Commons)

My goal is to get students working with different classmates, to appreciate what talents different students have, and to get them to the point where they can organize themselves to get a large-scale community build done.

For this build, I asked the class to work together on one project: building a new office for me completely underwater. I had the following requests:

  • It needs to be enclosed by a glass dome.
  • It needs to be BIG.
  • All elements need to be mined or donated from existing supplies (no deus ex machinahere!)
  • I like trees, flowers, and other natural elements.

The best part of this activity was watching how students came together and decided on a plan of action. One student’s general store became the clearing house for supplies. Another student set up a Google Doc that listed the supplies that needed to be collected. In a great discussion in class about the best way to create the dome, my students came up with some great guiding questions such as:

  • How much glass is required to enclose a given area?
  • How deep does it need to be to be completely underwater?
  • What’s the best location on the map for the dome?
  • What is the safest way to work underwater without running out of air?

Their final plan was brilliant: Build a wooden platform on the surface of the ocean, and build a dome out of sand on the platform. Then, burn the wooden platform away, and let the sand dome drop to the bottom of the ocean, where it can be covered with glass and the sand replaced with air.

This project took a couple of weeks and involved all students in various phases of the project: Leveling the ocean floor; Gathering and storing supplies; Building the dome; Dropping the dome; Glassing the dome; Removing the sand; Designing the interior. We even needed some students to provide security against the occasional skeleton taking pot shots at the work crew!

This video was captured by different students from multiple angles, then edited together by Aliya.

My students organized and coordinated everything themselves, and although two students drowned and a couple of them burned up, my office looks amazing. I think we can call this project a tremendous success!

See above for a video of the dome dropping and a shot of the finished interior of my new domed office.

© Douglas Kiang 2017