Materials List: Rooftop Gardens

Each group needs:

  • foam core board or heavy cardboard (for creating two model buildings), ~15 x 20-inch [38 x 51-cm] sheet (which is half of the 30 x 40-in [~76 x 102-cm] size foam core board sheets typically available)
  • 1-2 pieces of black tar paper, ~ 6 x 6-inch [15 x 15-cm] (available at hardware, lumber and home improvement stores), or use black sandpaper, or black construction paper to represent the black tar surface typically found on city building roofs
  • 1-2 pieces of sod (turf) and/or other sod or moss-like plants, ~ 6 x 6-inch [15 x 15-cm] piece (available in rolls or trays at garden centers or florist shops)
  • 1 piece of plastic sheeting (for roof deck insulation and waterproofing layer), 30 x 30-cm; cut from plastic wrap or plastic trash bags
  • duct tape and hot glue gun (alternative: just use duct tape)
  • X-ACTO knife, utility knife and/or scissors, to cut foam core board, black paper, sod, tape, etc.
  • 2 thermometers (at least one long thermometer so you can access the interior of the model structures)
  • 1 heat lamp
  • 1 electric fan
  • timer or stop watch
  • paper, for sketching dimensioned designs
  • pencils, for drawing, data collection and graph creation
  • 4 sheets of graph paper
  • (optional) soil (if not enough soil comes with sod)
  • Materials and Cost Worksheet
  • Temperature Data Sheet

Construction supplies for the teacher to have on hand for groups to purchase (as their budgets permit), as listed on the Materials and Cost Worksheet:

  • foam core board (or heavy cardboard), ~ one extra sheet should be enough
  • black tar paper, ~ one extra piece per team
  • pre-cut sod pieces (15 x 15cm), ~ one extra piece per team
  • plastic wrap or plastic trash bags, for more waterproofing membrane material
  • duct tape
  • hot glue gun sticks

For the entire class to share:

  • (optional) timer/stop watch (to synchronize students' time pieces; alternative idea: use a free online timer and project it in the room for all teams to see; go to
  • (optional) HOBO data logger with probe (available at electronics and hardware stores; this instrument records temperatures at set intervals over a period of time and creates data tables and graphs; usually requires a computer; see Gempler's HOBO Data Logger FAQs for more information)
  • (optional) laptop/desktop computer with LDC projector, Excel software, Internet access