South Bay students are working on a temporary housing project to help solve San Diego's homeless crisis Monday.
The students from High Tech High in Chula Vista are learning new life lessons along with science and liberal arts while tackling the project. They are building an 8-by-8-inch tiny housing structure outside of St. Luke's Church in North Park.
It's a chance for the ninth graders to experience the basic physics of building a home, while using a type of wood that is designed to snap easily into place.
"We're using what we call c-wood which is a different shaped wood," explained Chris Scott, the founder of I-Wood International. "And the reason we do that is that it tends to interlock when it joins together."
The subtle teachings of empathy are woven through hands-on, practical training and science lessons.
"For us, instead of trying to fix homelessness, we're trying to restore dignity," said Izabelle Faith Pusung, a student working on the project.
The project also teaches students to consider the complexities of human behavior in unexpected circumstances, and that drugs and mental illness are not always the driving forces behind homelessness.
"They've had some sort of horrible thing happen to them and this can happen to any one of us," said Regina Kruglyak, a teacher at High Tech High School. "So I want the students to understand this can happen to them as well."
One of the most important takeaways from the students' project is building self-esteem, as they tackle unknown tasks and face new challenges.
"It's actually helped in my outlook on things especially when you see someone on the streets, instead of shunning away, a simple smile can help," said Marissa Lee, another participating student.
On Saturday, between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., the students will hold a demonstration for the public by St. Luke's Church in North Park. They'll assemble and take apart the temporary structures to show how simple it is.