Global Cardboard Challenge sparks creativity, collaboration

Global Cardboard Challenge sparks creativity, collaboration
Posted on 11/11/2016
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See also: Second graders motivated by Genius Hour

As Indian Hill Primary School second graders began their new year-long “Genius Hour” program, their path took a fork in the road, inspired by a video called “Caine’s Arcade” ( Caine, a nine-year-old, has sparked a movement to foster kid creativity worldwide by his astounding creation of a full video arcade (that filled an entire garage) made completely from cardboard and tape.


When Gifted Intervention Specialist Monica Dawkins saw his video and learned about the Imagination Foundation (, which hosted the global Cardboard Challenge this October, she realized this was a great way to immerse students in the idea of Genius Hour with a short-term project.


“The idea is to use cardboard to spark creativity,” she explains. “We focus on the 4Cs – the 21st Century learning skills of Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication and Creativity. When I saw the Global Cardboard Challenge, I realized this was a perfect project to embody all the 4Cs.”


Students had to develop an idea that could then be executed completely from cardboard. They had to work with one or two others, meeting the goal of collaboration; they had to think critically about what they wanted to design. They had to communicate with each other and the whole grade level. And of course, this is a perfect project to develop creative thinking skills!


All second graders partook in the challenge, which culminated on October 6 & 7. During the planning stages, they created a “wonder wall” – things they were thinking about or interested in learning more about. Based on interests, which included soccer, baseball, outer space, and many others – students chose partners.


They spent a few weeks developing blue prints of their projects to be ready for the Challenge days. And on October 6, Mrs. Dawkins and the second grade teachers assembled about 130 students, a mountain of cardboard, some scissors, and tape in the Primary School gym.


Students chose the pieces of cardboard they would need and proceeded to build their design. There was a “restaurant” with counter, cardboard utensils and food. One group created a robot. One was the ultimate fort – a gigantic box with accoutrements. Some created interactive arcade games. And there were many, many more.


The teachers, who were at first nervous about having a gym full of second graders working on a project like this, couldn’t believe the level of engagement. “No one was off task, no one was misbehaving,” asserts Mrs. Dawkins. “This proved that when you give students something they’re interested in, the chance to pursue a passion and the opportunity for creativity, they are 100% engaged.”


Between October 1 and 7, students all over the world participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge, which was also an exciting aspect for the students. According to Mrs. Dawkins, “We wanted them to have a sense of community, which is why we had them all work at the same time. They also knew there were students just like them, all over the world, doing the same thing. It was a motivating feeling for them.”
Girl in cardboard robot outfit Girl & boy working on cardboard project Girl looking into box Two boys building cardboard project Boy stacking cardboard Boy with cardboard box over his head Two boys working on box and smiling