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Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Classroom: Engineering With Trash

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Sep 22, 2020

In this activity, we will learn how to re-use everyday items just like Frank Lloyd Wright did when he was building a home or structure.

Frank Lloyd Wright was never wasteful or irresponsible when it came to using building materials. He built over 500 structures in his lifetime, many of which are considered sustainable and flow with the environment instead of hurting it or trashing it. By the end of his career in engineering and architecture, he built homes, bridges, and skyscrapers that fit into the environment in which they were built. He always found a way to use every item or material at hand and did not throw extra materials away into the trash, or worse, into the environment.



  • Tape

  • Pencil

  • String

  • Glue or Hot Glue or Glue Stick

  • Aluminum Cans

  • Copy or Scrap Paper

  • Newspaper

  • Used Cardboard

  • Egg Cartons

  • Plastic Bottles (rinsed out)

  • Chip Bags

  • Drink Boxes (rinsed out)

  • Other miscellaneous recyclable/items


  1. Go through your house with your family and collect some of the materials listed above.

  2. With your family, or individually, make a product with the above materials that follows the required criteria:

      • Must use at least 3 recycled things from the material list above.

      • Cannot use more than the given bonding materials. You can only use tape or glue.

      • It must serve a purpose or be a useful product that helps complete something.

  1. With your family, or individually, sketch out what you think your design can be. It’s important to sketch this out multiple times and it’s okay if your design changes over time.

  2. Once you feel that you have the design you want to go with, you should start to assemble your product. It’s important to note again that your design may change and that’s okay. You can always go back and sketch out a new product idea.

  3. Once you are completely done constructing your product, create a “salesman” pitch about your product. Below are some good questions and ideas that your product should address:

      • Why would anyone want this product, or why would they want to buy it?

      • How will it help society become more sustainable? Think about how your product helps reuse recycled materials instead of wasting them or hurting the environment with them.

      • How much money would you sell your product for?

  1. Once you have come up with your pitch, present it to your family to see if you can get them to buy your product. Listen carefully to their feedback as you may want to go back and change a few things on your product after you present it to them.

  2. Make any changes to your final product and email it to us at:



Don’t forget to share your projects with us!
Send images of your project using recycled materials that you created from this activity to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Facebook page.


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The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is dedicated to providing quality STEAM education experiences to challenge young people around the world to be critical thinkers and creative problem solvers. During this uncertain time, with families around the world keeping their kids engaged in learning activities, the Foundation is proud to offer these lessons and other activities free of charge. Your support helps the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation keep their staff employed and creating education programs at this critical time, and long into the future.

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