At a Montessori school, kids design and build with cardboard in an ongoing project involving research, design, and math.
About 120 third- through fifth-grade students from Peabody Montessori Elementary School dedicated the final month of their weekly Explor-A-Lab time building the projects they planned and designed out of cardboard.
Last month the project started when teacher Emily Swenson showed a video that inspired the creation of the Imagination Foundation after going viral online in 2009. In the film,9-year-old Caine Monroy built a cardboard arcade in his father’s used auto parts store in Los Angeles.
The first customer was a filmmaker. The short film “Caine’s Arcade” was made by the customer, and the global response led to the formation of the non profit and an annual Global Cardboard Challenge and Day of Play in October.
Swenson said the video to inspired her students to build while introducing engineering and design into her lessons.
Students formed groups and began brainstorming and researching for their project. It could be an arcade game or anything else but had to feature a simple machine — like a lever, pulley or inclined plane — which the classes studied previously.
Swenson has been impressed with the kids’ creativity, drive and learning during the process.
“They realized they have to use math to build,” she said. “There’s math, the (building) process — knowing they have to fail. They have to test it out.”
She said students are disappointed on days they don’t get to build, and many have been building other things outside of school.
“We’ve got a city at home,” said Errin Hankins, whose daughter Avery is in fifth-grade at Peabody Montessori. “They’ve made little cardboard villages.”
Avery Hankins, 10, said the villages are for her stuffed animals at home. Her project at school is a machine that uses a claw to retrieve candy like one might find at an arcade. The idea came from her teammate and candy-lover, Dee’ajhi Williams.