Live Cardboard Hacking Day

IMG_6381 (Edited)This Monday we were delighted to welcome Pete Lomas, the creator of the hardware for the first Raspberry Pi, and Tim Wilson, Regional Coordinator of Code Club in the West Midlands, to our school. They had both heard about our Think Like an Engineer project and were keen to visit and share their expertise with us.

The day began with an excellent presentation by Pete, who talked about how he had progressed from messing about with cardboard boxes and train sets as a boy, to developing the third most successful computer in the world – the Raspberry Pi. The message was simple: it is never too early to start inventing.

Tim had come to give some of the older children a mini Picademy session, but unfortunately, the Internet was down, so they were disappointed. He has however agreed, very generously, to come back in September and do some work with the Raspberry Pi Sense HAT, which Tim Peake played with aboard the ISS – can’t wait!

In the middle area, Pete and Tim laid out all manner of interactive Raspberry Pi activities to engage the children, who were all very interested in how coding works.

The rest of the time was devoted to hacking cardboard. This had been suggested by Pete himself, as an engineering focus for the day. Parents, teachers & children gathered together in their classrooms amongst mounds of cardboard, glue guns and cutting implements. There were Pirate Ships being built in Year 1, castles and buildings from the recent trip to Llandudno in Year 2 and cardboard cranes in Year 3, which were powered by syringes – very inventive.

Year 4 focused on furniture and large-scale cardboard animals, including a spectacular giraffe; whereas Years 5 & 6 worked collaboratively to produce fun fair elements.

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Everyone gathered together in the hall at 2:30pm to see what had been created and for the judging from Pete and Tim. It was an extremely hard decision, but in the end, after much deliberation, a group of Y5&6 boys won with their massive theme park design.

Despite the earlier disappointments, it had been a fantastic day. It was particularly pleasing to see parents working alongside their children. We had some very positive comments:

Mr Randall,

Just to reiterate how much I thoroughly enjoyed the School’s Cardboard Hacking Day on Monday and how much I thoroughly admired the collective effort and close class management required to make it happen. I believe that I speak for Craig (Chloe’s father) as well.

I’d like to reiterate too that I would delighted to assist in your class (or indeed any other) for any future “special days” between now and the end of school year.

Tom Downey (parent and engineer)


“Cardboard hacking with year 4 earlier this week was great fun; seeing the imagination and creativity flow as the children worked together, interpreting the brief in so many different ways, was fascinating. But it was also wonderful to see the children being encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning, learning from their mistakes and then presenting themselves, and their creations so well – and with pride. These are all such great life-skills.  

And, as a local employer, I should also add that it is so encouraging to see the children developing these transferable skills that are so vital, and will really help them to stand apart, in the workplace in future. But I have to admit a little bias, as a hydraulic engineering company, towards the year 3 girls’ hydraulic grab made from cardboard and syringes. Wow! Super-impressed! Maybe they would like to come on a work placement and help with some system design projects in a few years’ time?”

Helen Baker (Director)
Hydraulics Online


Dear Mrs Wiskow

I would just like to say what an enjoyable morning I had with year two on the ‘Think like an Engineer’ cardboard hack day. The children were really involved in their projects and showed a great enthusiasm for construction and problem solving. I was particularly impressed with some of the boys groups and how well they worked as a team at providing solutions to some of the more challenging aspects of their projects. Keep up the good work!!

Narissa Mather


And don’t forget, throughout this process we are trying to encourage our children to use Engineering Habits of Mind, so how did they exhibit these:

Claris Y5 – “We were going to use micro:bits, but the Internet was down, so we used an LED circuit to make it work.” (creative problem solving)

Megan Y5 – “We could change the height of the wheels so that it would be more balanced and we could make it stronger.” (improving)

Jack Y5 – “We found out that we needed a more powerful battery to make our ferris wheel move round.” (problem finding)

Rohan Y5 – “We found that our wheels needed to be put on very tightly.” (problem finding)

Jake Y5 – “We took our design apart and then we built it again.” (improving)

Isobel Y5 – “We talked about whether our design would be possible to create.” (systems thinking)

Charlotte Y4 – “Looking at a number of pictures of giraffes helped us design a better model. It turned out a lot better than we thought.” (visualising)

Rebecca Y4 – “We improved the design of our giraffe by not sticking our animal together. We can dismantle it to move it about more easily.” (improving)

Marie Y4 – “To make my lamp sturdier, I could have put a hole in the base.” (improving)

Emma Y4 – “The problem was that the pencil holder was too high, so we cut a hole in the desk and slotted it in.” (adapting)

Chronicle article