The 2015 Cardboard Challenge

The 2015 Cardboard Challenge | Every year, we participate in the Global Cardboard Challenge in our makerspace as a part of our afterschool Makers Club. Here, I talk about some of our projects as well as some best practices I've come up with. |

Yes, I realize that the official Global Cardboard Challenge happened back in October, but cardboard is timeless ūüôā ¬†I did actually hold the Cardboard Challenge in our makerspace with my students in October, but between FAME and AASL, I hadn’t gotten around to blogging about it. ¬†So here you go.

About the Cardboard Challenge

If you aren’t familiar with the Cardboard Challenge, stop what you’re doing right now and watch the Caine’s Arcade video above. ¬†It’s beautiful and inspiring and the basis behind the Global Cardboard Challenge started by the Imagination Foundation. ¬†I always start my Cardboard Challenges by showing my students this video.

The Cardboard Challenge is one of my favorite projects that we do in our makerspace every year.  Last year I focused the theme around designing arcade games; you can see some of my students projects in my post here.  This year, I have a larger group of students in our afterschool Makers Club (between 15-25 most weeks) so I decided to make it open ended.  My only rule for students was that their projects had to be at least 75% cardboard.  The things they came up with amazed me.

Skil Power Cutter |
A Skil Power Cutter makes cutting up cardboard SO MUCH EASIER

Facilitating a Cardboard Challenge in Your Makerspace

If you are wanting to facilitate a Cardboard Challenge in your Makerspace, there are tools that can make your life easier. ¬†I bought two Skil 4.0 V Lithium Ion Power Cutters for our challenge, and before the next one I plan to buy at least two more. ¬†They’re rechargeable, safe and easy to use. ¬†They make quick, clean cuts on cardboard and many other materials.

I also make sure to have at least four hot glue guns¬†around, as they’re the best tools for attaching cardboard. ¬†Yes, some of my students still touched the tip after I warned them not to. ¬†But they work.

I also make available packing tape, acrylic paint, aluminum foil, rubber bands, markers and a variety of other materials.

Cardboard organization - Finding a way to keep all your cardboard organized is crucial. |
Finding a way to keep all your cardboard organized is crucial.

Organization of Materials

Find a method of organizing your cardboard. ¬†Seriously, do it now. ¬†I didn’t have a good method when I first started and our Maker Room looked like a hoarder’s home – you couldn’t walk in for all the cardboard strewn everywhere. ¬†And our custodians almost threw away my students projects. ¬†For our organization, I modified an old book display using bungee cords and zip ties.

Some of our student projects, including a building, robot suit, space ship & hat. |
Some of our student projects, including a building, robot suit, space ship & hat.

Student Projects

My students came up with some amazing projects during our Cardboard Challenge. ¬†I love the range of ideas they came up with since I let the challenge be open ended. ¬†One student designed and painted his own cardboard building, complete with windows and a smoke stack, and called it the Jeff Factory (I think Cardboard City might be a future design challenge for us). ¬†Another built a robot suit, which he wore home. ¬†Several students worked together on two rocket ships, one based on the Nyan Cat meme, another which was more of a traditional rocket with wings and engines made from soda bottles. ¬†Another created a cardboard hat for one of his K’nex creations, and another built a reading fort.

Skyping with Deer Path Middle School about our Cardboard Challenge projects. |
Skyping with Deer Path Middle School

Sharing it out

One of the most important parts of running a design challenge with my students is finding a way for them to share what we’re doing. ¬†Part of that is sharing out their projects through my social media channels, including Instagram, Twitter, and Flickr. ¬†But I also think that it’s crucial to give students an opportunity to share with their peers about their own projects. ¬†As luck would have it, around the same time that we were working on the Cardboard Challenge, Patti Flesser of Deer Path Middle School in Chicago, IL contacted me about having our students Skype with one another. ¬†They’re planning on starting a Makerspace, and her students wanted to interview students at a school with an active makerspace. ¬†This made for a fantastic opportunity for my students to share about our space and share the projects that they had made. ¬†Check out her video of the Skype call here.

Have you ever held a Cardboard Challenge with your students?  What was your favorite part of the experience?

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8 thoughts on “The 2015 Cardboard Challenge”

  1. Do you think there will be a 2016 Cardboard Challenge. We are starting our new makerspace this upcoming school year and looking for a schoolwide design challenge to launch. Thanks for your response!

  2. Hello, we are organizing a cardboard challenge with school kids here in France and we are wondering what is essential in terms of organizin gthe cardboard? I did not really understand what you did in your makerspace. Thanks!

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