Explore: Building Conceptual Models of Bus Shelters

Grade Level: 4 – 6 (can be modified for middle school and high school)
Time: 1.5 – 2hrs total (divided into multiple sessions as needed)

Lesson Plan for Building Models with Slotted Cards

Slot Shelter connectors


Conceptual Model Team Statement

scale model footprint sheet

Rubric for Build Conceptual Models of Bus Shelters

sample materials board

Click for image from this workshop from Campbell, Renaissance Academy in San JoseAzerbaijan, Cupertino , Menlo Park , Cureton Elementary San Jose, MLK Library workshop in San Jose with teens, and Utah.)


This project is an introduction to brainstorming collaboratively and to exploring shelter designs addressing local community and environmental needs. Using slot cards, students collaborate in building prototypes of bus shelters. Students cut cardboard (or use blank note cards) and collaborate in teams to make these card models. Students write how their built-structures address community needs. This is a hands-on lead in exercise to prepare students for volume rendering sessions in the 3D rendering program, SketchUp.


  • Students brainstorm and collaborate effectively in teams as they explore design ideas for multipurpose bus shelters.
  • Students explore a design process as they identify and address address local community and environmental needs.
  • Students compare and contrast brainstorm lists from their own and other student communities.
  • Students demonstrate an understanding of plane and solid geometric objects and use this knowledge to show relationships and solve problems in creating a structure, using slot cards and connectors.
  • The exercises facilitates a concrete understanding of math and visual arts vocabularies (balance, angle, parallel, co-planer, tangent, symmetry, perpendicular.)


Many architects and artist have explored with slotted cards as it is an elegant and simple way to take planer shapes and build solid geometry forms. Here is a resource image document: Slot Shelters Reference Image Building Prototypes

  • Eames House of Cards, 1954, inspired Slot Shelters. Charles Ormond Eames, Jr (1907–1978) and Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames née Bernice Kaiser (1912–1988), American designers, made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture. Their work in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art and filmare also well known.

    Ray and Charles Eames, House of Cards, image permission for non commercial usage by MOMA Design Store











  • Damian Ortega, Módulo de construcción con tortillas 1998 Kurimanzutto, Mexico City © The Artist

  • Model Building by Todd Gilens. Image usage by permission of Artist
  •  Estante Publica, Brazilian bus shelter project which encourages collective participation in an urban setting.
  • John Locke’s Dub 002  modular phone booth libraries.

John Locke's Dub 002 modular phone booth libraries.









Examples of innovative bus shelter designs: http://www.toxel.com/inspiration/2009/05/01/15-unusual-and-creative-bus-stops/


Note cards, scissors, tape, pencils, one lined notecard per team to write need statement onto. Solid colored  background to photograph against and mini-people for scale.

5th Grade students design of a homeless health clinic and bus stop

Design of a health clinic/bus stop with solar panels by 5th grade students (Aki T. and Brendan Y.) of Stevens Creek Elementary, Cupertino, CA.









Model design by Kadin Whisitt, 7th grader of Pinewood Middle School, Millbrae, CA.

(CC BY-NC 2.5)

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