GEMS Students Embark on a Cardboard Challenge!

Target 1. Student-Centered Learning  FWSU students will engage in personalize learning involving collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creative learning opportunities.

Action Step – Highlight, create and model innovative learning opportunities that promote collaborative inquiry, problem solving and creativity for students and staff.

Indicator of Success – Students and staff will apply existing knowledge to create original works as a means of personal or group expression.

GEMS students recently were offered an exciting opportunity to enroll in choice classes. Math Teacher Tony Hardy is facilitating a group of 18 students in “Design, Build, Destroy”. The class quickly took a 180-degree turn from the original plan, but students continue to be enthusiastic and engaged.

GEMS Hardy Class 1

What did the class become?  It has become centered around a cardboard design challenge. Students will accept one of two prescribed challenges or design their own.

  • Challenge #1: Design and construct a bridge that will support a minimum of 50 lbs.
  • Challenge #2: Design and construct a piece of furniture that will support your own weight.
  • Challenge # 3: Design your own!

Some of the independent projects that students will complete include cardboard fighter jets, catapults, crossbows, and even a cardboard whitetail wall hanging!

GEMS Hardy Class 2

Each day for the next 25 days, Mr. Hardy’s classroom, which typically houses a math class, has been transformed into a virtual buzz of creativity! Sounds of tools like scroll saws and dremels fill the air. Visions of projects emerging from raw materials like glue and cardboard (LOTS of cardboard!) are all around, as students work towards their goals.

GEMS Hardy Class 3

Projects like these are part of national initiative to develop young innovators and foster a DIY maker movement.  At FWSU, teachers were introduced earlier this year to the concept of a cardboard challenge in Caine’s Arcade.


The best part? The students are highly engaged in problem-solving as they allow their learning to unfold – Mr. Hardy hasn’t developed a single lesson plan! Instead he spends his time discussing individual projects with the students, teasing out their ideas, listening to their thoughts, and being continually amazed by their creativity!

~ based on an entry which appeared on Tony Hardy’s Classroom Math Blog

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