During a recent library conference, I learned of a short documentary film featuring a cardboard arcade created by then 9-year-old Caine Monroy who made the contraption out of cardboard and everyday objects. Caine ran his arcade from his father’s auto parts store in East Los Angeles. Nirvan Mulick, a passerby, created a short documentary that went viral and ultimately inspired what is called “The Global Cardboard Challenge” initiated by a non-profit organization, Imagination Foundation. The organization’s mission ‘is to raise a generation of innovators and problem solvers who have the tools they need to build the world they imagine.’
At the heart of the Cardboard Challenge is an opportunity for children to build whatever they can dream up using cardboard, recycled materials, imagination, and creativity. The Challenge is a fun, easy- to-organize learning experience that fosters creativity and teaches necessary skills for success in life. Those same skills sets are similar to what SAA teaches:
- ingenuity and resourcefulness
- collaboration and teamwork
- critical thinking
Part of the 4th and 5th grade curriculum is to read the Texas Bluebonnet nominee books in Mrs. Longoria’s class. Coincidentally, one of this year’s Texas Bluebonnet book nominees is The Cardboard Kingdom. I was inspired to combine the concepts of the short documentary film, Caine’s Arcade, with the book, The Cardboard Kingdom to create SAA’s first afterschool Cardboard Challenge! I invited the 4th and 5th graders to participate, and to my delight, several boys heeded the call. Boys worked individually and with partners to create their own version of an arcade game using only cardboard and recyclable materials. Within moments of the beginning of our first session, the young engineers had generated their own unique idea and planned how they would construct their arcade game. Soon after, games were being tested, improved or modified, and then, ultimately, ready to share with their classmates. Their arcade games were truly amazing!