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Thinking Outside the Box: Wellan’s Annual Cardboard Challenge

Above: Students playing games designed and constructed by 3rd graders.

At Wellan, students learn about science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) by solving design challenges that require them to think outside the box, problem-solve, and use their imaginations. Our annual Cardboard Challenge is the perfect opportunity to do just that!

Wellan’s Cardboard Challenge (inspired by the Global Cardboard Challenge) encourages students to utilize their creativity and follow the iterative design process in order to construct a specific project out of recycled cardboard. Building these 3D objects requires being able to assess the physical properties of different thicknesses of cardboard, learning how to make cuts and folds to create movable joints and stable structures, and practicing safe tool use with attention to eye-hand coordination. Starting with conversations and preliminary sketches, students spend time during Design Lab class in the Wellan Makerspace to bring their plans and ideas to life, both individually and in group settings.

From top left: A preliminary sketch of the intricate cardboard zoo created by 2nd grade students; views of the final project.

This year, Lower Elementary classes (grades 1–3) completed an array of unique projects. 1st grade students worked individually to plan and construct masks and heroes. In 2nd grade, students made contributions to a group project—a cardboard zoo—which required that they agree upon, understand, and map out a collective vision. Our 3rd graders individually designed their own interactive games, considering their participants and how it would work, and then testing various prototypes and making changes as needed. Across all grade levels, students practiced new techniques for working with cardboard, as well as critical thinking and problem-solving.

Above: An owl mask and heroes created by 1st grade students.

Last week, students in Lower Elementary presented their projects to their teachers and classmates during the Cardboard Challenge culminating event—the final results were incredibly imaginative, and a whole lot of fun! Wellan’s Design Lab teacher, Merav Rosen, spoke to the students about how the event was going to work—laying out guidelines to make sure their cardboard creations were handled with care and respect. Merav even placed a line of tape on the floor around the zoo; and each child was careful to keep their toes behind the line so as not to disturb the animals! There was palpable excitement when it came time to explore the cardboard creations—students proudly showed peers and teachers their work, marveled at other students’ ingenuity, and joyfully played each others’ games. Congratulations to all of our students for their enthusiasm and innovation!

Want to read more about our past Cardboard Challenges? Click here!


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