Build of the Week: The Best Game Ever

Brainstorming ideas for the Cardboard Challenge

Brainstorming ideas for the Cardboard Challenge

This week, I introduced my after-school STEAM club to the Cardboard Challenge.  When I first told them we were going to be building games from cardboard, my teens were skeptical.  All their brainstorming ideas at first involved coding and electronics.  Then we watched Caine’s Arcade and they were entranced.  Suddenly, the ideas started pouring out of them as they were inspired by this amazing child and his creations.  When I first saw the sketch one of my 8th graders, J., made for The Best Game Ever, I thought he was just reminiscing about a Game Boy.  But his game was more than that.

First iteration

First iteration

J.’s idea was to create a game where you would insert a coin (or in this case, a circular K’nex piece) and try to make it roll down a ramp and into a bin.  His first iteration was with a stryofoam ramp, but through trial and error, he quickly discovered that the K’nex wouldn’t roll down this surface at all.  So he had to trouble shoot and rework his design.

J. took out the styrofoam ramp and replaced it with a cardboard ramp.  The game now worked much better, and it was actually possible for someone to win.  But this still wasn’t quite enough.  J. came back in for lunch the next day to tinker with his project some more.  He decided to add a window so that people could see through the box but couldn’t cheat while playing the game.  He also added an obstacle to the ramp making it more difficult to roll the K’nex down.  Now people playing the game have to try to flick the K’nex over the obstacles.

New version with ramp obstacle

New version with ramp obstacle

We invited beta testers to try out this newest version of The Best Game Ever.  It’s still a work in progress.  Some future improvements J. has planned: more methods to prevent cheating; a littleBits buzzer that goes off when someone scores; a “fee” collection system.  I can’t wait to see what our cardboard arcade will look like when all the projects come together!


Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory School, an independent 6-12 in Tampa, FL. Previously, she was the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog RenovatedLearning.com & is also a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Secondary Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace with Colleen and Aaron Graves and is also the author Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.

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  1. […] out the cardboard and started proto-typing.  The first game to be created was dubbed “The Best Game Ever” – it involved rolling a K’nex piece down a ramp and trying to get it into a […]

  2. […] Build of the Week: The Best Game Ever […]

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