Cardboard Chair Challenge
One of the most difficult of design challenges for
students to do involves designing devices or systems
about which they have no prior knowledge. Such is not
a problem with the cardboard chair challenge from the
Brooklyn Tech HS test-bed, cultivated by Ed Goldman.
Everyone has interactions with chairs -- product familiarity
is a strength of this home-grown task. Since students
will be redesigning, you might want to review the Ways
of Naive Designers.
This 5-7-week activity asks students to design-and-build a full-sized chair
from two 4' x 5' pieces of corrugated cardboard, without using
tape or fasteners. The chair must support a 70-kg (150-lb)
user when sitting down and leaning back. Students learn about
paper as a building material and the statics and dynamics
of structures. They first generate chair ideas as small index-card models,
and then scale up selected ideas to full size.
DITC's Cardboard Chair section holds the following:
Listen to movies where Ed describes how chairs work
and the method of technical drawing called "orthographic
Watch a chronological sampling of lessons from the
Cardboard Chair task, including final presentations
in front of a group of external judges.
Your Cardboard Chair Lesson
Suggestions for mainly tech ed teachers on issues
to consider when planning out a Cardboard Chair unit.
a sample final report written by a student and the
rubric Goldman uses to assess it.
Here are the materials you will need for this activity:
View or print out copies of the Cardboard Chair materials
by clicking on the items below:
- Index cards for prototyping model chairs
- Oaktag folders for quarter-scale chair models
- 3 4'x5' sheets per team corrugated cardboard for final chair (1 sheet for half scale, 2 sheets for full scale)
- Box cutters, metal rulers, scissors and poster materials