Dirt Under My Fingernails

intentional teaching on the great plains

How to Build Doctor Who’s TARDIS: A Case Study in Project-Based Learning, Part 2

on October 24, 2013

Step 20: Dress up like the Doctor and BE AWESOME.

Step 20: Dress up like the Doctor and BE AWESOME.

After more than three weeks of planning, gathering, figuring, engineering, and building, may I present to you the 11th Doctor and her TARDIS! Eva is so very proud of her blue box on wheels, and I am too. In the first part of this post, I outlined the concepts and life skills we were learning through our TARDIS project. For this post, I’m going to break down the steps of how we did it.

Before I begin, I would like to stress that in project-based learning, problem solving is key. This is simply one way to build a TARDIS. I found that the best thing I did in this unit was not to give instructions, but to ask questions: Eva, what do you think you should do next? How will you make that window light up? What else do you need to do? Even if I knew an easy answer, I did pretty well at keeping quiet, distracting myself while Eva worked out the solutions on her own. So though I’m going to walk through our steps, if you’re doing this at home, I urge you to have your child make up his or her own instruction manual. You learn so much more that way.

Things you’ll need:

  • A Big ‘Ole Refrigerator Box
  • Box cutter
  • Scissors
  • Packing tape
  • Duct tape
  • Wax paper
  • Scrap skinny lumber to use as reinforcements, if needed
  • Poster board
  • 4 15-bulb strings of battery operated white lights
  • Cleaned out spaghetti jar (or something similar)
  • Plenty of scrap cardboard, some of the pieces quite large for the roof
  • Primer, 2 shades of blue paint, and 1 tube black paint, paint brushes
  • Hot glue and glue gun
  • Small box for the telephone box
  • Old style phone (we got ours at a thrift store)
  • Fabric hooks or something similar to attach the phone to the box
  • A latch of some kind
  • 1 piece of wooden board, to lay in the bottom of the TARDIS
  • 4 Casters (wheels for the bottom) with screws

Step-by-Step with Pictures

For step-by-step instructions with enlarged photos, click on any picture in the gallery below.



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5 responses to “How to Build Doctor Who’s TARDIS: A Case Study in Project-Based Learning, Part 2

  1. Shari says:

    Really awesome job! Looks like it was a lot of fun and I love how this became an educational project – really impressive. My son wanted to be a Tardis this year. I should have had him build it! Some pics: http://bit.ly/drWhoTardis

  2. don says:

    What was she supposed to learn? One reason teachers avoid PBL is because they think the projects don’t teach real learning objectives. Case in point–this project.

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