During the challenge, one child wandered around the fairground’s hall of flowers in his creation, a robotic-looking cardboard body with a pumpkin-shaped head. Others made arcade-style games, such as an air hockey table.
The event was organized by the Sonoma County Office of Education. It’s part of an international movement to encourage hands-on creativity in kids, inspired by the documentary Caine’s Arcade. The short film follows Caine, a 9-year-old boy who crafted an elaborate game arcade in his father’s used auto parts store using only cardboard, a few household supplies and his imagination.
Dan Blake, director of innovation and partnerships for the county office of education, said he drove about the county in a 26-foot U-Haul collecting cardboard in preparation for the event. He filled the truck a time-and-a-half, and almost all the cardboard was used by the end of Saturday’s event.
“I was amazed at how much cardboard kids and their parents could go through,” he said.
Some children built their creations on the spot; others brought items they’d built at school in the weeks leading up to the event.
This is the first year the county held such an event, but they plan to make it an annual affair, Blake said. They became interested in holding the challenge after Nirvan Mullick, who created the documentary, spoke to county educators last year.
“People really resonated with his message of giving kids space to let creativity flow,” Blake said, adding that the concept was in line with the county’s growing “Maker Movement.”
The county has collaborated with Sonoma State University to launch a maker certificate program, where teachers can get trained and certified in how to instruct students on the subject, Blake said.