Sunday, January 29, 2017

Family STEAM Night Cardboard Challenge

Recently, Chattanooga Christian Lower School hosted our second "Family STEAM Night." This evening was a cardboard arcade challenge that was inspired by Caine's Arcade Global Challenge . We started the evening off with all family members watching the video about Caine and his arcade and the movement that it created (see right). We then told the families they had 30-40 minutes to create an arcade game and that we would play each other's games for the rest of the time. The parents were given this document as the movie was playing.

The setup for this event was easy...cardboard, lots and lots of cardboard. We also had packing tape, glue, hot glue guns, scissors, ping pong balls, sponge balls, dowels, string, markers, streamers, balloons, pipe cleaners and anything else we had crafty that we thought might spur the imagination of others. And in a story I couldn't have scripted any better myself parents supported their students creativity, got out of their way when need be, listened to their innovations, and helped their children engineer arcade games. It was a thing of beauty!

As the evening progressed I noted three main things:

  1. After being at this school for 13 years I see a level of heightened creativity in our students across the board. Our students don't wait around, they dig in. I know this can't all be attributed to our new STEAM program but creativity and innovation is blossoming as CCS due to the culture of acceptance of trying new things that is also growing. I was amazed at the different games that appeared but not just that, the differences within the games themselves. For instance, there were 3 different skee ball games but each were uniquely different from each other. The design processes varied tremendously. That was exciting to see each family interpret and create based on their own thoughts. 
  2. We are blessed by supportive administrators and teachers that see the value of STEAM at our school. We had all worked full days that day and I had said it was not mandatory for the teachers to participate but I stand amazed at those that have taken part in our STEAM Nights because they see it as a priority for our school.
  3. Children are creative by nature and when supported possibilities are endless. Very few parameters were placed on them for this event and they thrived. To have a multi-generational experience where the parents helped them critically think about the engineering dynamics was a beautiful thing to watch. To see parents help their children create a prototype of the images in their head was a lovely lesson of collaboration. To see parents follow the lead of their child to help them learn in the process shifted the parent/child paradigm in a unique way that evening that was a joy to experience. My favorite quote by a parent that evening that I overheard was "I'm not really sure what it is we are making yet but tell me where you want something glued and I can do that."
The video below is a simple compilation I created from the evening. It makes my heart happy to hear the students explain their creations. Enjoy and I encourage you to have your own cardboard challenge! Thank you to Conversant Group of Chattanooga, TN for sponsoring this night for our students. 

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