Parent Creativity Lab Workshop – Creating Chairs from Cardboard

Welcome to our Parent Creativity Lab Workshop Blog Series where, this time, it’s the parents’ moment in the spotlight as they participate in a monthly designing and making activity.  Here at Lighthouse, we have parents apply themselves in these projects to experience maker-centered learning for themselves.  My teammate, Maritza Ortiz, translates as I do my best to facilitate and explain the parameters of each workshop.

As you may recall, one of our core values associated with maker-centered learning is developing student agency, which allows students to participate in hands-on making through learning.  The Parent Creativity Lab Workshop gives parents the opportunity put themselves in their kids ‘shoes’ and experience first-hand what it is like to design and to make a project.  For our first Workshop, we had a group of 15 participants, who were new to making and apprehensive based on the looks we received as we gave out instructions. We realized leading them would be a challenging effort, but we stuck with it and introduced them to our exercise.

Our first project of the series was to build a chair out of cardboard, in small groups, using the following requirements:  

  • You may not use a box as a box
  • You may only use cardboard and brads (max 15)
  • The chair must be at least 18” tall
  • The chair must hold a person who weighs at least 150 pounds

They may only use the following tools:

  • Cardboard
  • Ruler
  • Brads (15 max)
  • Box Cutter
  • Awl
  • Cutting Mat


The parents had 15 minutes to create a prototype, test and reflect on what worked and what could have been done better and an additional 20 minutes for the next prototype. Then, they tested their prototype by having someone sit in their chair.  This is a fun exercise as you can see in the photos.  We keep it safe by having a partner to spot you in case the chair fails structurally.

After the group had a chance to reflect, they started coming up with ideas to make their chair more sturdy.  There is no correct design – only that it meets the initial requirements.  As we moved through the second protocol I get a sense of confidence building by noticing that some of reinforcing the legs of their cardboard chairs.

At the end of the 20 minutes for the second prototype everyone the opportunity to try out their chairs.  As you can see there was a variety of results but the teamwork and sense of accomplishment came through in parents’ smiles.



About Gary Hall, PMP

I am a goal oriented person with a passion for helping others reach goals. My background in managing projects in technology as well as fitness and nutrition has positioned me to be in the ideal environment here at Lighthouse Community Charter Public Schools.