Sunday, February 24, 2019

Cardboard Creation Challenge - a step-by-step lesson plan

Since my last post over two years ago, I have been working to develop curriculum for my class. For the past 4 semesters, I have refined what I do in my classroom, and over the next few months I plan to share how I teach my units in the Makerspace.

My class is unique in that it is called "computer science", but I teach it in a Makerspace and cover a wide range of topics that not only involve computer science, but also engineering, design, and making. I start the semester off with several team-building challenges.  These challenges allow me to observe the students working with different partners and groups. From there we dive in to our first unit: Cardboard Creation Challenge. We then transition into 3D Modeling and Printing, Circuits, Scratch/MakeyMakey, and finally Python/Raspberry Pi.  Each lesson that I will share has a framework which our school has developed for all classes.  It is based on the Engage2Learn framework:


  • Pre-Assessment

  • Team/Launch

    • Hook/Challenge Brief
    • Form Groups/Team Role
    • Establish Norms/Develop Conflict Resolution

  • Plan

    • Analyze Project Requirements
    • Analyze Rubrics and set goals based on pre-assessment

    • Research/work

      • Plan and research
      • Identify knows/need to knows

    • Create/Crit

      • Final project is created
      • Adjustments and refinements made based on peer feedback

    • Share

      • Share project with authentic audience
      • Students self-assess their work via Maker's Statement.
    I share the Slides (below) with students via Google Classroom. On this project, I give the students the option of working with a partner or alone, but everyone must receive feedback from their classmates during the "create" process.

    Teacher Prep:  

    • Create a timeline

    • Create pre-assessment, progress check, final assessment
    • Gather materials:

      • Cardboard (ask kids to bring it from home)
      • tape (duct, package, masking, washi)
      • Hot glue guns/hot glue sticks
      • Box cutters, canary knives, Klever Kutters , Zip Snip or whatever you are comfortable with your kids using
      • Gloves to protect hands from cuts and burns (this is a non-negotiable in my class)
      • craft supplies (Popsicle sticks, dowels, corks, plastic containers and lids, etc...)
      • Make a paper copy of the "Cardboard Techniques" slide and cut. Place in a container for the students to randomly draw.  If you have more than 12 students, make enough for each student - it's ok to have duplicates.


    Before the cube pre-assessment, I spend time familiarizing the students with where all of the materials are located in the classroom, how to use the tools safely, and clearly define clean-up expectations. I don't give them a lot of instructions on how to work with the cardboard, because this part of the project gives them the opportunity to assess their skill-level. I spend more time on techniques during the next phase when they work on the Technique Resource Board.


    It is important for the students to have time for planning and thinking, but it is also important to have a sense of urgency so that they can be done by the final due date.  Some will hurry and finish in a day or two, while others will work more slowly. Be prepared to challenge the early finishers by sending them to receive feedback from other students, make improvements, or add to their project.  For the students who may not have enough time to finish, encourage them to seek feedback and suggestions on how to refine and edit thoughtfully so that they have a finished product by the due date.  


    During the Share phase, students write a Maker's Statement reflecting on their process, creativity, and collaboration.  They use the rubric to self-assess their project. This final phase also involves sharing in front of an audience. In addition to the class, invite other teachers, parents, and community members. After the presentations, the projects are displayed with name plates for the whole school to see.

    This project is the basis for all of our other units. Learning how to use cardboard gives the students risk-free medium to explore, create, fail, and succeed. As we move on to circuits and physical computing students will understand that with cardboard, the possibilities are endless!

    Cardboard Creation Challenge Slides - You are welcome to copy these slides and modify as necessary, but please give credit to the creators.

    Student Cardboard Projects -You are welcome to use these photos, but please give credit to the creator.

    Michael Buist - Knox Gifted Academy, Chandler, AZ
    Twitter: @buistbunch
    How to Work with Cardboard: Ikatbag

    Faucet and Funnel Thinking
    David Cosand - Resound Blog

    Aaron Maurer

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