Students Craft Castles, Backpacks, and More in Cardboard Challenge

Students Craft Castles, Backpacks, and More in Cardboard Challenge

This article was originally published in the Oak Forest Patch. Click here to view the original article.

Oak Forest High School's library transformed into a creative workspace for students during the first week of October as students participated in the Imagination Global Cardboard Challenge. While a global event, this year with 750,000 participants in 80 countries, this is the first time Oak Forest High School or any District 228 High School has participated in the challenge – it certainly won't be the last.

Oak Forest High School Librarian Amanda O'Rourke heard about the Cardboard Challenge from a newsletter she read last year that inspired her to learn more. She discovered that the Cardboard Challenge started with a young boy named Caine who created an arcade out of cardboard at his father's auto parts store but no one would play them. One day, a filmmaker came by and played the arcade games. The filmmaker then hatched a plan with Caine's father to get a flash mob out to the auto parts store to play the games. After which the Cardboard Challenge took off inspiring children everywhere to make their own creations from cardboard.

At Oak Forest High School, students had large piles of cardboard to choose from as teachers, students, and community members donated to the school in anticipation of the event. Then, on October 1, Oak Forest High School librarians met with students and explained the goal of the project and how the library would transform throughout the next few days. On October 2, students broke into groups and began developing ideas for their project. On October 3, students began crafting their masterpieces.

Oak Forest High School DECA teacher, Katie Gomez participated in the Cardboard Challenge with her DECA students this year as a way to prepare the students for a future entrepreneurship challenge they have coming up this semester. She felt that this exercise helped students to demonstrate 21st Century skills of innovation, teamwork, collaboration, and problem-solving.

"The biggest thing the students learned was that it is hard to be creative and that they needed to let their ideas evolve," says Gomez. "Together, as a team, they came up with more ideas; "playtime" is the theme where most projects stemmed from."

By Thursday, October 4, the library was full of different creations that ranged from a children's play fort, a castle, doll house, backpack, skeeball game, and much more. During parent-teacher conferences held that night, Oak Forest High School asked parents and teachers to vote for two projects they thought were the most useful and most creative of all the projects submitted.

Oak Forest High School Seniors Jim Rizzuti, Danny Mahoney, Isaiah McManus, and Dan Rizzuti won the "Most Creative" title for their elaborate castle design. Seniors James McGlothlin and Brandi McManigal won the "Most Useful" title for their practical take on a backpack.

"Most Creative" winners credited problem-solving as their most valued lesson from the challenge. "One of the ways we used problem-solving was when we made a throne [on the inside of the castle] and sat on it and it broke," says McManus. We re-made it and then reinforced it so this would not happen again. We also divided the tasks and split up into two groups so that we could get [our castle] done faster."

McManigal a member from the "Most Useful" winning team credits team-work to their success. She says, "We came up with a design as a team of how things were to be laid out. We wanted it to be useful. We thought, 'What's the point of spending time on this if you can't use it?'"

Several of the teachers who participated in the Cardboard Challenge felt that their students learned collaboration, creativity, and pride in their work. Oak Forest High School Librarian Amanda O'Rourke says, "I think it was a huge success. The kids had fun, teachers enjoyed looking at the projects, and parents were excited to see what their students had created during parent-teacher conferences."