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Cardboard Chair Stem Challenge

Pembina Trails School Division had a challenge for middle years students to build a chair using only cardboard and reusable or repurposed fasteners. We decided to take part in this challenge unofficially and with our own spin.

We designed how our chair would work, and what it could look like. We said that chairs have legs, and a back. During our unit on structures, we learned that every structure must support a load. We know that the load of a chair is the person sitting on it, as well as the chair itself. In groups, we drew a blueprint model of a chair made out of paper.

We used paper and tape to make miniature chairs for a first design. The load for these chairs were books, maybe a stuffed minion, and the chair itself. We discussed what worked well with the paper chairs, and what could be improved. We talked about what reusable and repurposed fasteners were.

When we were ready to start building, we got cardboard and different types of fasteners including green wires and brass fasteners. We (carefully) cut out cardboard pieces and fastened them together according to our designs. We tested our chairs and tried again when they didn’t work by making them stronger with more cardboard and triangular beams, or more fasteners. Eventually, our chairs turned out great. They were all able to hold at least one child, some could hold two, and some could even hold our teacher. We learned that it is possible to make chairs out of cardboard, even without glue or tape. We kept trying and trying, and we made it work. 

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