Digging Into Chicken Tractor Design

Students from the Animal Science & Horticulture Academy at Central Campus, part of Des Moines Public Schools were involved with Homestead 1839, a sustainable agriculture operation in West Burlington.

Project Details: Exploring Design Thinking and Chicken Tractors

Project Partner:

Homestead 1839


  • Students Involved:

Students in the Animal Science I class at Central Campus, a part of Des Moines Public Schools.


  • Topic Areas Covered:

Design process, poultry, animal sciences, agriculture, research.


  • Skills Strengthened:

Creativity, communication, design, sustainable practices, animal science.

The students in Kevin Anderson’s Animal Science I class were at the forefront of getting involved with the Clearinghouse and working on an authentic project with a business partner.  Mr. Anderson was the first teacher in the state to use the Clearinghouse to find and connect on a real-world project that had been posted on the project board. Governor Reynolds held a press conference at Central Campus to announce the first project connection and fully launch the Clearinghouse. See video of the press conference here.

The business partner on the project, Homestead 1839, was eager for the students to research about raising chickens, sustainable practices, and chicken tractor design as part of their poultry unit.  

The students involved designed plans for chicken tractors (a mobile, modular coop that allows for cultivation of the ground beneath) and then collaborated with another group of students in a CAD class (computer-aided drafting) to get their designs digitally rendered.  

What Success Looked Like for This Group

Mr. Anderson shared, “It is nice when I give them parameters and then they take charge. It is great to see how they use the content I taught them and apply it. Some of the groups have had strong debate on the merits of their design. I was also surprised to see the quiet kids gets really involved and be vocal. This project has helped their employability skills around communication and meeting a deadline.”