Imagination, technical skill and loads of fun were the key ingredients in more than 50 projects built by Grade 6 students in the Design/STEM program, where classes were challenged to design and build a product only using cardboard. Student groups created their own versions of arcade games, wearable accessories and architectural design, inspired by Caine's Arcade, a home-made project gone viral.
Students kicked off the design process by generating product ideas in brainstorming sessions. They sketched their final concepts and determined dimensions and features. Following lab safety protocols and adult supervision, students used electric cardboard cutters, soldering tools, hot glue and duct tape to connect all the moving parts; they added a basic circuit to light up their designs. Throughout the challenge, students faced assorted obstacles, mostly around the behavior of the key resource, cardboard. The highlight, of course, was testing the products during the showcase. Among the arcade games, Sophia Ades’ peg board worked reliably, making the ping-pong ball fall randomly into one of several cups. Ilan Simon’s pinball machine managed to mobilize the flippers to repel the ball. Arie Lisker’s foosball table was a popular stop. Nathan Backer’s maze required players’ fine motor control to guide the ball and avoid pitfalls. Students stood in line to try out Shalom Lev Meisels’ and Aharon Heinrich’s skeeball: prizes were given out to winners. In the wearable category, Nicole Kiblisky donned a movable advice booth, while Carla Nicolaievsky and Nichole Taiebwore a necklace in the style of ancient Egyptian royals. Zachary Zuchaer, Adriana Puterman and Lynn Soffer made a playhouse featuring the amenities of a modern home.
Grade 6 Design/STEM teacher Scott Savett marveled at his students’ learning process. “I was amazed to see how students motivated and inspired each other through the design process,” he reflected.
The Grade 6 Cardboard Challenge is a yearly milestone in Scheck Hillel’s Design/STEM curriculum. All classes within the program are hands-on, laboratory-type courses designed to mimic work environments in the real world. Design challenges take students through the four stages of the design cycle: research and discovery, idea development, solution development and evaluation. Students work both individually and in teams on projects ranging from one class period to a few weeks in length. As students progress through this program, the challenges grow in complexity and depth. The design curriculum engages students in Grades 6-10 with concepts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.