Cardboard Carnival Launches to Inspire and Encourage STEM Skills in Evanston Youth

Cardboard carnivalThe Cardboard Carnival is coming back to town beginning Saturday, January 23 with a new challenge for Evanston youth: designing a cardboard marble run from scratch. This is the second of four, free citywide challenges that encourage youth to develop skills in coding, prototyping, production, and presentation. Youth will learn about the design process, build their knowledge of STEM principles, and use cardboard engineering techniques to construct a unique marble adventure with a programmable motorized moving component.

All eligible participants who submit a video of their complete marble adventure before the deadline on Saturday, March 6 will be entered into a raffle for prizes; projects with more design elements included have a greater chance of winning. The final products will be celebrated at a community showcase on Saturday, March 13. More about the rules and registration can be found here.

This Cardboard Carnival is open to D65 students and Evanston residents in grades 4-8 and tailored to accommodate for the challenges of distance learning. Once registered, participants can pick up a free supply kit for the program starting January 18 at the Main Library or the Robert Crown Branch Library.

No experience is required—the Cardboard Carnival has more than 20 video tutorials to guide participants through the design process. Virtual drop in mentor sessions with cardboard engineering experts will occur each Monday afternoon. On Saturday mornings, youth can attend fun livestreams full of marble race events that will inspire students and demonstrate different marble run techniques.  .

“The Cardboard Carnival is one of many programs in which the Library, EvanSTEM and partners offer opportunities to grow STEM literacy in Evanston youth. These early, engaging, and supportive experiences in science, design, math, and engineering help promote lifelong learning and can spark interests that may extend well beyond youth into adulthood,” said Renee Neumeier, the Library’s Innovation and Digital Learning Manager.

The Library, EvanSTEM and community partners will provide additional opportunities in this challenge for Black and Latino youth and girls, groups historically underrepresented in STEM. These opportunities include Saturday morning mentor sessions where youth will be paired Northwestern graduate students from STEM fields. Together they will virtually work together to develop their marble adventures and iterate on the design. On Monday afternoons there will be meet-ups for girls and non-binary youth led by female-identifying STEM experts from Digital Divas and EPL.

The Cardboard Carnival is made possible by the Illinois State Library Project Next Generation Grant, co-written by the Library and EvanSTEM. Additional support is provided by the Motorola Solutions Foundation and the Northwestern University Office of Community Education Partnerships. The program is organized through partnerships with staff from the Evanston Public Library, Digital Divas, EvanSTEM, Family Focus, MetaMedia, Y.O.U. and the City of Evanston.

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