To begin we watched an amazing NOVA-produced video called the Building the Great Cathedrals. It was a perfect introduction to these engineering marvels. Students were then asked to draw a Gothic style cathedral using a shape tracing method shown in Deep Space Sparkle's Architecture Made Easy PDF. These drawings became our blueprints for how were were going to construct the cardboard and paper mache sculptures.
The plan was to have each table create a cathedral. That's right- one project per table...all day long. As each class came in for the day, whomever sits at that table would continue to add to that work. This was a challenge in itself; we worked the best we could with what was left after each block. However, this turned out to be a very successful large scale project challenge. Not only was it engaging but the transfer of skills from collaboration, to communication to just plain ol' perseverance was hard to ignore. Nice job 7th graders!