Cardboard, the new App for our Family


I love technology, and I use a lot of it in my work life. As a result my children love it as well, and probably spend too much time using it. There are some really great educational applications for the iPhone and iPad; for example, my son loves DragonBox which teaches kids about algebra without them even realizing it, and my daughter who has yet to learn how to read, loves MonkeyWord. But if you think about it, this kind of play is quite narrowly defined by the structure of the app. But then I saw this video called Cain’s Arcade , and I was inspired.

If you are a parent, you MUST watch this. I will let you discover the wonder for yourself, but in brief, this is the story of a brilliant little boy Cain, who spent the summer with his dad in his used car parts shop. He loves arcades, so he built his very own arcade using boxes from his dad’s shop. He was discovered by @Nirvan, a filmmaker, who using Facebook organized a flashmob of individuals in Los Angeles to play in Cain’s arcade, raised money for Cain’s college education, and made the film (read more about the story here.) You should also watch the second video that was made, which shows how the movie became a movement, in the form of the Imagination Foundation.

So cardboard is the new app in our family and we are having lots of fun. B, my son, was really inspired by Cain’s Arcade. He first diligently watched the movie, taking notes of what he wanted to build.

He then had a blast putting together his own versions of “Skiball” (with some assistance from mom and her old scientific posters for delivering balls)

The claw machine, using legos and pipe cleaners

Pingpong Basketball

He even designed his own t-shirt courtesy of a sharpie.

Creative thinking, hands on learning, and problem solving skills; as a pediatrician and educator, I truly believe that these are essential tools for raising happy, resilient, and successful kids. What amazing things have your kids created?

P.S. Check out the book “Creative Confidence” by Tom and David Kelley. It’s a great inspirational read and primer on creative confidence, which is really another name for design thinking, a topic that I am most passionate about. And for an inspirational example of teaching design thinking to kids, check out the work of Emily Pilloton and Project H.

Joyce Lee MD PhD

Joyce Lee, MD, MPH, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan. She is a pediatric diabetes specialist (Pediatric Endocrinologist) who works with children and families at Mott Children’s Hospital, and she is a clinical researcher whose work focuses on childhood obesity, diabetes, and growth and pubertal development.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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