Stop the Insanity and Build Cardboard Projects Stronger

cardboard connections -

Stop the Insanity and Build Cardboard Projects Stronger

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein


In the elementary maker classroom, cardboard connections come in two flavors - hot glue and tape. If something breaks, the solution is always more hot glue and more tape. When it breaks again? MORE hot glue and tape! So if we accept Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity, we must accept that most young makers are insane. Perhaps that definition of insanity is incorrect, because this is a problem many of us run into.

As good Maker Education/Project Based Learning /constructivist teachers, we always want to prompt our students to take a moment and analyze the failure and re-engineer rather than repeat the same failed solution. But time is always so short for maker projects, and curricular goals often weigh heavier on our minds of than quality control. Often, we bite our tongues, cross our fingers, and hope their projects hold together long enough to survive their presentations. If only there were a way to fast track the students to consider alternate solutions… Anchor Box to the rescue!

Four cardboard brace examples to reinforce student projects.


Based on the idea of anchor charts that many teachers already depend on, this Anchor Box presents four quick ways to reinforce cardboard corners. Having examples like this available in the classroom before making begins is a great way to get students thinking deeper about structure before they design their projects. Alternatively, after something falls apart a teacher need only suggest that a student consider the solutions demonstrated on the anchor box.

There will still be plenty of failures to experience, and plenty opportunities to develop grit and resilience: however, with more access to proven solutions like these there will be a less time lost to repeat failures and more time for curriculum integration. And our students might begin to appear a little less insane as well!

Bring in the reinforcements!

An Anchor Box like this takes about an hour to construct but the rewards will quickly be apparent. Another great bonus to these examples is that with a little effort students can find each of these structures holding our world together.

Bamboo rods are great for supporting cardboard corners.

Rod Brace

Look for thin lengths of metal supporting heavy shelf loads. We used a bamboo skewer for ours.

The L-brace is and easy way to reinforce cardboard corners.

“L” Brace

L braces are everywhere and especially easy to find at the hardware store. This is the most flexible of the four cardboard braces here but it is surprisingly strong!

A simple triangle makes the gusset brace.

Gusset Brace

Gussets are in roof trusses and bridges and most often found in metal construction. Just cut the corner off a square corner of cardboard to get a perfect 90 degree triangle.

Corner brace for cardboard reinforcement.

Corner Brace

Corner Braces are more likely to be seen by children than adults because they are often seen on the underside of tables as support for table legs. For cardboard any rectangle will do and it’s very strong.

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