Everything You Need to Know about Using Cardboard in STEM

There are two materials we use in STEM class every day.

Cardboard and masking tape. 

Mind you, the cardboard can be card stock or brown cardboard or even foam board. The masking tape is a heavy duty, very sticky brand that works well. We prefer thin tape.

So, you would have to think that we (I mean, myself and the students) have mastered these two materials. We should be experts by now, right?

Well, a little. Let's see if we can share some tips with you!

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!



Did you notice all those really interesting connections in the picture above?

Those were created when I realized students needed an easy reference to remember attaching methods that could help them make a structure work.

There is a little story behind this. Take a look at this photo:
On the left (red arrow) you can see a group struggling to get those tubes to stand upright. The way they are using the tape is the problem. On the right (yellow arrow) this team is using a flange made of the tape.

This is one way to solve that taping problem. But, now take a look at the next photo.

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!
What if you make the flange along the bottom of the cardboard tube? Now, you have little tabs that fold out and those can be taped in place. What a great support system all the way around.

HOW TO: Cut short lines all the way around the bottom of a tube, about an inch apart. Fold the tabs out and tape each tab in place.

So, okay, are there more of these tricks?

Actually, yes. Now, I cannot take credit for inventing these. I found several different posters on Pinterest and then made my own. (The complete poster is at the end of this post.)

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!
Let's learn how to make these four!

THE INSERT

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!

HOW TO: Fold a flap at each end of the cardboard. Fold the cardboard in half.  Cut a slit in the location you need to use for threading another material through the shape. Tape the bottom flaps in place. This could be used for creating a cranking device. The inserted object would be the material you would turn to make the crank work.

TABS

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!
HOW TO: Cut one inch long slits in two places along one edge of the cardboard. Fold the two spots on each end in one direction and the middle spot in the opposite direction. Now, you have three places to add tape. This is perfect for creating walls.

NOTCHES

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!
HOW TO: Fold each end of a piece of cardboard making flaps. Fold the cardboard in half. ALong the top of the triangle you just made cut notches. Now another piece of cardboard can lay in those notches. This is perfect for creating space between two floors of a house.

GUSSETS

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!
HOW TO: Cut three small triangles the same size. Glue one edge to a piece of cardboard to make the "shelf". Glue the back side of the shelf and the back of each triangle to another piece of cardboard. The bottom cardboard is now attached to your structure. This would also be a great wall.


STORAGE

I have a lot of cardboard!
Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!
I save boxes and have parents send in empty boxes. I cut these into smaller pieces and store them in plastic or cardboard boxes. I try to keep the pieces arranged in boxes by size!

TIP: Ask you cafeteria and office to save boxes for you!

MORE TECHNIQUES - THE FASTENER

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!
If your students ever build anything that needs to spin this is the trick for you.

HOW TO: Use a hole puncher to make a hole through your larger piece of cardboard. Cut the spinning part and punch a hole in one end of it. Use a metal fastener to thread through both pieces and you have a spinner!

INSERTS

Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!
HOW TO: Cut two pieces of cardboard the same size. Cut a slit in the center of both. Now just slide them together using the slits you just made. This makes a shape that can be a support for a tower!


THE POSTER

I created models of 12 different cardboard techniques to use as a reference when students need an idea. The backing is a piece of white foam board (buy this at the Dollar Tree).

I created all the attaching models and hot glued them to my foam board. I want them to stay in place!

The labels are just an easy-to-read font printed on Astrobright's paper. My poster has a larger matching title: Cardboard Attaching Techniques.

Finally, I hot glued it to my wall - low enough for kids to see it and make use of it!

Did you get some ideas? I hope so!


Tips and tricks for using cardboard in STEM class. This post includes close up views of 3-D models of cardboard techniques and how to make them. Create your own Cardboard Techniques poster using these tips!





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