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Groton students create cardboard video games their classmates can actually play

Groton — Students at Catherine Kolnaski Magnet School collected cardboard and other recyclables, teamed up to build “video games” that could be played in real life, then on Friday showed other students how to play the games in classrooms turned into "arcades."

Chandler Meivier, 10, converted a cardboard base into a football field using green construction paper, white crayon to mark yard lines and cardboard tubes and Popsicle sticks to build goal posts.

“The NFL symbol in the center is gold because it’s 50 years of football,” he explained.

The projects were part of the school’s participation in the Global Cardboard Challenge, inspired by a video called “Cain’s Arcade,” about a boy who was bored one summer and used cardboard to turn his father’s garage into a cardboard game arcade.

The school collected recyclables at the end of September, then paired older students with younger ones to start work on the projects earlier this month.

Fifth-grade students teamed up with second-grade students, fourth-grade with first-grade, and third-grade with kindergarten and some first-grade students, said Ben Moon, the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math specialist. Every student participated.

Fifth-grade teacher Chris Gatti said his students worked for three sessions with a second-grade class to plan and build their creations.

“Each student had a science notebook and came up with an arcade game which used cardboard as its base,” Gatti said. 

The game had to be able to be played multiple times, have instructions and have rules.

Students drew blueprints in their notebooks first, then discussed and agreed on a final plan and began construction, Gatti said.

The children learned not only how to design, build and collaborate, “but frankly, how to have fun in school” while working on a science and engineering project, Gatti said.

Jade Arline, 9, helped build “The Marble Maze,” in which players toss a marble through an entrance and into a maze of cardboard tubes to try to knock over empty plastic bottles at the end.

It was harder than it looked.

“At least you got one down the first time,” she told a visitor who tried the game repeatedly.

The rules allowed three attempts, but the designers sometimes made exceptions for a fourth.

d.straszheim@theday.com

Twitter: @DStraszheim 

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