Looking at the Exploratorium’s theme for the season, Welcome to the Wildcard, they re-purposed cardboard to make a variety of objects. Cardboard is a wonderful material that easily gets thrown out after opening an Amazon package. I see stacks of cardboard in the back of shopping mall garbage bins wondering, “Where does this all go to?”  Some cardboard gets recycled and some unfortunately goes to the landfill.  This makes me really want to pursue a zero waste plan at our school as I’m seeing stacks of cardboard placed in our school’s recycling bin.  It’s an untapped learning resource for our STEAM Class.

What can you do with cardboard.  Let’s check it out.



If you haven’t heard of Caine, he is an incredible young entrepreneur with a dream to get people to place his cardboard arcade at the time.  Caine planned a visit to the Exploratorium on July 27th and I ask him a couple questions:

  1. What did you learn from this experience?
  2. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?

Caine said to persist and keep moving forward.  If all else fails, try something different.  Caine had multiple attempts of trying to sell products from a cardboard posters to having people play his arcade.  Because of his prior attempts, he was able to choose another pathway that might bring in customers.  In the 2nd question, he replied that young entrepreneurs need to start somewhere and start with what they have in front of them.  This whole experience show that you don’t need a lot to innovate and be creative and yet he was successful with lack of other resources.

I’ve heard of Caine’s name from my principal as I was discussing about our annual Game Expo.  I checked it out one day and I was in awe of this young man and what he has accomplished at his age.  His creativity stemmed from the fact that he was bored during a summer at his dad’s auto shop and he decided to make cardboard arcades. He was patient, as he was being a natural entrepreneur, trying to get people to play his cardboard arcades.  These are lessons and trial that all youth should experience because it helped developed his character and his confidence.  This whole experience made me think of how can I adapt this experience so that all STEAM students have a opportunity to be builder and entrepreneurs.

Look at the video below to get a context of what he is about.


This whole experience supports and pushes a lot of ideas that are circulating in my mind.  Below is only a fraction of what I’m thinking about.  As I’m flush these idea’s down,  I will update this post.

Cardboard Arcades

I plan to change the first semester of STEAM:Coding class so that there is some building involved.  I want my student learn the concepts of game design through building cardboard arcades.  After they build their arcade, we will use Makey Makey’s to provide another level of interaction so that the computer program that student make is able to interact with the cardboard arcade and the players.

MaKey MaKey – An Invention Kit for Everyone from jay silver on Vimeo.

If you are interested purchasing a Makey Makey, click on the link below.

Using Cardboard for  Set Designing and Costumes

set piece

Something that our STEAM:Theater set builders and stage crew struggled with is heavy set pieces that we have to move.  We could of lessen the weight of the set pieces by using layers of cardboard.  This is making me think about how we can use this resource to make sturdy yet light set pieces.

From Trash-in to Fashion

I was inspired by a number of Facebook posts of people re-purposing trash for fashion.  I’m inspired to design a project based learning experience where student will design an outfit out of trash that is cleaned out.  It a great lesson about how trash and garbage, though non-functional at the moment, can be reused for some other innovation.  HEY . . . we can do an auction with the school community, with families, and fund raise.  Hmm.  Below is inspiration.

Stop the Weeds

When my grandparents were still alive, the way they controlled weeds is by covering the ground with cardboard.  If you wanted plant something,  you’d cut out an opening in the cardboard and planted your plant.  Then you covered the unused area with bark.  Cardboard is a great template.  I’m planning to use that to structure our garden area at Hoover.

Cardboard Racers

I did this project last semester where students made battery operate racers using a motor, a propeller that they had to make, wires, and materials that make up the body, wheel, axles.  The project went pretty well.  The only thing I would change is how I would introduced it but the use of cardboard was invaluable.

In Conclusion

There are still more uses for cardboard.  As we build on this philosophy of re-purposing and a zero waste policy, we can always start with the amazing versatility of cardboard for any school projects. If you are interested in joining this era of innovation, join the global challenge at

If you want some inspiration, check out these books.

Happy Teaching!!!

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