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Seth Boyden Hosts Rollicking Cardboard Challenge



The Seth Boyden auditorium and gymnasium overflowed with cardboard inventions and resounded with happy cooperation as the school hosted its first Cardboard Challenge on Wednesday, November 9, with South Street School in Newark.

A global initiative of the Imagination Foundation, the Cardboard Challenge invites children to use boxes and other basic recyclable materials to create whatever they can envision.  The students of Seth Boyden and South Street School produced a staggering array of games, toys, mazes, models, and other creations, some of them on a large scale.  The children displayed their finished products at stations where other students could interact with the inventions and play the games.  As children of all different grade levels from the two schools gathered together at the stations, a spirit of delight and camaraderie filled the air.

Seth Boyden fifth-grade teacher Kelly Kiess was effusive about the event.  “I was absolutely thrilled with the creativity that many of our students demonstrated.  The details were astounding!  The students really enjoyed playing not only their own games but games created by students of all ages and grade levels.  Everyone was having a great time and demonstrating excellent sportsmanship.”

Vice Principal
Rhonda Williamson-Green of South Street School noted that the students were exercising valuable skills, including engineering, problem-solving, and critical thinking.  “These are all things that they’ll need in their future,” she pointed out.  “They’re huge engineers!”

More than 430,000 people in 36 countries have taken part in a Cardboard Challenge event, according to the Imagination Foundation website.  The inspiration for the movement came from the 2012 documentary film “Caine’s Arcade,” about a nine-year-old East Los Angeles boy who spent his summer turning boxes from his father’s auto-parts store into a gaming center.

Seth Boyden’s Cardboard Challenge featured its own share of arcade-style games:  skee ball, knock hockey, ball and bean bag tosses, table soccer, a miniature pool table with taped paper-towel cue sticks.  Some students had even assembled a kid-sized crawl-through maze (“Wow, it was dark in there!” was one review).  In a giant cardboard parking lot, players answered math questions by directing matchbox cars into parking spots with the correct numbers.  The models included a meticulous replica of an old-fashioned tripod camera, a castle teeming with princesses, a multi-part rocket ship for three astronauts, and a vehicle labeled “The School Bus of Our Dreams – Never Late!” 

The school had planned to hold the event in its large Outdoor Learning Center, but rain forced the event indoors.  The students seemed undaunted by the change.  They demonstrated their creations proudly – and, for the more sophisticated games, with a great deal of patience and geniality – and excitedly visited the stations of other students.  The event turned a gloomy day into an inspiring expression of engineering ingenuity and good will.

By Alison Poe