Caine's Arcade: A Classroom Maker's Faire Day (Day 1 of 2)

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Students will investigate the processes and purposes of engineering in order to create a cardboard arcade game to use for a class unit review activity.

Big Idea

Use student imagined and constructed arcade games for a class unit review activity!

Notes for the Teacher

I use this lesson to infuse engineering design and a maker's faire experience into our everyday classroom life.  This activity is inspired by the ten minute Caine's Arcade video clip that shows how a very young and bored boy creates an entire arcade of games waiting to be played.  The students connect to Caine and his situation, they admire what he has created, and the events that have happened to him since then are impactful for them as well and are documented in the ten minute part two Caine's arcade clip. Students are asked to work in small groups, pairs, or on their own (their choice) to create their own arcade game that other students could play in order to review material for our upcoming unit exam.  This lesson could be used for any unit at any grade level.  

I showed this Caine's Arcade clip in a spontaneous moment last year and the lesson arose organically from the students' responses to Caine's story and work.  The students feel connected to Caine's experiences, which gives them extra motivation to collaborate, experience the engineering design/iterative process, and through their work, learn and review our content.  You can expand out or shrink down this Maker's activity so that it fits your curriculum schedule.  This year, I had students use the Caine's maker experience to create review games for our semester final exam.  Students have asked to use the arcade games since then to review in preparation for our work this semester too...on their own time!  

The Classroom Flow: Viewing Caine's Arcade

35 minutes

1.  Start the class by announcing that today you will all be learning the story of a remarkable little boy named Caine.  

2. Together, watch the ten minute "Caine's Arcade" video clip.

3.  Using a popcorn or other whip method, ask for responses/reactions to the video starting with the prompt:  What struck you most about this video?  

  • Note:  You will get a range of answers relating to the complexity of and ingenuity behind the games themselves, the circumstances of his meeting with Nirvan, his first customer, and his experiences at school and at his father's workplace.

4.  Watch the follow up ten minute video about what has happened since Caine's arcade garnered international attention.

5.  Use the popcorn method to illicit any other feedback you can from your class.  

  • Note:  The comments may range from amazement about how this project started small and now inspires children across the globe to the fact that Caine now has a college fund due to inspired donors, to the documentary film maker's non profit that serves to help kids imagine their future and the future of our world.  It is great to point out the engineering/maker aspect of the videos, tying in ideas about engineering design and creativity to the young man's passions, experiences, and the outcome of the videos.  

The Classroom Flow: Time to Brainstorm!

15 minutes

1. Once students have seen both clips and heard about Nirvan's Imagination Foundation and the international Cardboard Challenge, announce that today and tomorrow you will be doing a mini cardboard challenge in the classroom.  

2.  Tell students that each student group will be responsible for creating and making one arcade game that other students can play as part of an exam review day for your current unit of study.  

3.  Announce that today is the brainstorming session for our arcade game challenge.  Their job is to get into their lab group and discuss, sketch, brainstorm their ideas.  Pass out the brainstorming document and write these prompts to help guide their process:

What do we want our game to look like?

what materials do we need to make our game?

what are the different steps necessary to make our game?  how much time will they take?

what are the most important questions and answers to include in our game for other students to use for our test review?

Which group member will be responsible for each specific task for our creating day tomorrow?

4.  As student groups work, observe and assist as needed.  You will see many different iterations of Caine's arcade games and other types of games, you can decide how strict you want the requirements to be in terms of materials used.  My students have made all kinds of things like a wheel of fortune review game experience, a monopoly board inspired review game game, and a pinball arcade review game with movable ramps that were dependent upon the answer a player gave to a series of questions.  

And now on to Day 2!