Cardboard Challenge

The cardboard challenge is based off the inspirational video, Caine’s arcade.  Check it out here:

The goal of the cardboard challenge is for students to think of the material as having endless possibilities.  Students were asked to come up with a group plan on what types of things they wanted to create.  One year when I did this, all the students wanted to make their own arcade, the next year they wanted to make a miniature city.  The only process put in place was the Design Thinking model, which is:

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Students were asked to imagine what they could create and then worked in a group to make a plan.  With this plan as a guide, students worked with small groups to use cardboard cutting and assembly tools to make their creations and test them.  Students were asked to be aware when things were or were not working and to adjust when necessary.  At the end of each class, students gathered in a large group to talk about how they problem solved and how they dealt with roadblocks.  They were also given a chance to celebrate successes.

At the end of the week (five one hour sessions), the students were given an opportunity to share what they had built in a gallery setting.  The whole experience was about learning the Design Thinking model and understanding that the process of designing and the iterative process of evaluating to then improve their product.  It is a good introduction to the Maker Ed process with material that is easily accessible and can turn into anything.

Curriculum Connections:  This task, when modified, can have possible connections to many areas of the Alberta Program of Studies.  For example:

  • Grade 1 – Building Things
  • Grade 3 – Testing Materials and Designs
  • Grade 4 – Building Devices and Things That Move
  • Grade 6 – Air and Aerodynamics and Flight
  • Grade 7 – Structures and Forces


No formal rubric was made for this challenge.  Students were assessed formatively on their creativity, collaboration and ability to reflect on their use of the design thinking model.  Small and large group discussions were had and videos and pictures of student work were taken to communicate work to parents as well as give students the opportunity to reflect on their own process.