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The Hood Magazine

Thinking Outside the Box

11/09/2014 09:24PM ● By Hood Magazine
By Kara Weber, Creative Ideas Director

You wouldn't think that just a simple piece of cardboard could inspire a whole new generation of builders, designers, engineers, and artists, but it CAN and HAS done just that. For the past two years at a local Sioux Falls elementary school, students have voluntarily participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge sponsored by the Imagination Foundation. This no-cost equal opportunity event has inspired children from all over the world to build something, ANYTHING out of cardboard – a supply that any child can easily get their hands on. It may be as simple as using an empty cereal box or asking for an empty cardboard box at the neighborhood grocery store.

The movement was inspired by a boy named Cain who built a cardboard arcade in his dad's auto parts store during a summer break from school. The YouTube short film "Cain's Arcade" led to the Global Cardboard Challenge, which last year involved nearly 100,000 participants in 50 countries and also sparked the creation of the Imagination Foundation. Garfield Elementary students in Sioux Falls have participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge now for two years. The event is loved by staff, students, and parents because it is simple, it has no rules, no winners, and no losers. It is all about intrinsic motivation for students to build, create, design, and engineer anything, with the only limit being that of their own imaginations. The students work on their projects at home and bring them to the gym one evening for a giant, open house style showcase where kids take pride in showing what they made.

The Cardboard Challenge is a popular event because it is something that doesn't cost parents any money to participate in, and it doesn't cost the school any money to host. Cardboard, as a material, is easy for anyone to find no matter their income level, and when you have an even playing field for creation with no fear of judgment, rules, or failure, you get to see something truly amazing. This special something is not easily replicated in today's world of contests and competitions and is one thing that makes this event so popular. It is creating for the sheer enjoyment of creation without limitations!

To learn more about the Cardboard Challenge and how to host one of your own, visit