How to Connect Students to the World with the Cardboard Challenge

How to Connect Students to the World With the Cardboard Challenge | Maker projects and makerspaces are fantastic for connecting your students globally. Here's how you can use the Global Cardboard Challenge and Skype to connect your students to the world.

Makerspaces and maker projects can be amazing catalysts for connecting your students with others. The Imagination Foundation’s Global Cardboard Challenge is one of my favorite maker activities to help my students feel connected to the world and see the power of making. Combine that with a Skype call with another school and you create amazing opportunities for global connections.

Connecting Students to the World with the Global Cardboard Challenge

We’ve been participating in the Global Cardboard Challenge at Stewart every year since we started our makerspace. Check out our 2014 challenge and our 2015 challenge. While the official event is on the first Saturday in October most years, I usually use the month of October to focus on the Cardboard Challenge with my afterschool Stewart Makers club.

Every year, we watch the video Caine’s Arcade to kick off our Cardboard Challenge. If you haven’t watched it before, take a few minutes to check it out.  It’s amazing and inspiring.

This year, we also watched the sequel, which shares the story of how Caine and Nirvan created the Imagination Foundation and started the Global Cardboard Challenge. This video really got my students excited, as they saw other kids like them around the globe creating amazing cardboard projects.

Students' cardboard challenge projects

Students’ cardboard challenge projects

Running a Cardboard Challenge

I like to keep our cardboard challenge pretty open ended, so students can make whatever they want. If you want a challenge with a specific goal, try one of these:

  • Cardboard arcade – Have students design arcade games made from cardboard
  • Build a cardboard city – Have each student create a building or structure from cardboard and put them all together
  • Robot petting zoo (cardboard version) – Have students design robots made out of cardboard OR have students design cardboard contraptions for your library robots like Sphero and Dash.

I like to keep a variety of supplies available for my students to use. We have TONS of cardboard that I save up throughout the year. I keep a variety of arts and crafts supplies and recycled materials available as well. Here’s some other supplies that I’ve found crucial:

  • SKIL Cardboard cutter – we have three of these
  • Hot glue guns
  • Packing tape guns
  • Acrylic paint
  • Tin foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands
Stewart students skyping with students from Winnetka, IL

Stewart students skyping with students from Winnetka, IL

Using Skype and Social Media to Connect Your Students

Throughout the challenge, I share images of my students’ projects using Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #cardboardchallenge. This gives my students a chance to get feedback and hear what people think of their projects.

Students at The Stokie School skyping with students at Stewart

Students at The Stokie School skyping with students at Stewart – Photo courtesy of Kathy McDonough

I put out a call on Twitter to find a school to share our Cardboard Challenge with and was contacted by Kathy McDonough. Her students in her Digital Literacy class at The Stokie School in Winnetka, IL, have done several makerspace projects, including a 20% project inspired by Google’s 20% time. We worked out a day and time and connected our students via Skype. My students were excited to share about their cardboard projects and Kathy’s students asked lots of great questions about their design process. It also gave my students a chance to share about our makerspace and our Maker Club.

Have you Skyped with another school about one of your maker projects before?  What was the experience like for your students?

Author: Diana Rendina

Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory, an independent 6-12 school. She was previously the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and learning space design and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace and is the author of Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.

Categories: Community/Teacher Collaboration, Makerspaces/Learning Commons

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1 reply

  1. Thanks for the insight!

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