By Steve Sears
The Hackettstown Public Library recently held its second Cardboard Challenge.
Open to all ages and residents from Hackettstown and neighboring communities, Children’s Program librarian Megan Davis says, “We had people visit from all over including Flanders, Chester, Budd Lake and Allamuchy.”
The program promotes STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) programs in the library, inspires creative play and encourages children to get outside.
“We are always looking for new ways to provide hands-on learning experiences that inspire children to get off of the couch and be creative,” adds Davis.
This is the second Cardboard Challenge held at the library, and so much fun was had by all at the first one that a second was scheduled. About 50 children participated.
Davis explains the process: “The idea behind the Cardboard Challenge is so simple and such an essential part of the childhood experience – receive a fancy gift and end up playing with the box! We just decided to take it a step further! Our first Cardboard Challenge was held in March as part of New Jersey Maker’s Day. New
Jersey Maker’s Day is a statewide event in which schools, libraries, museums, and community spaces hold special events to celebrate the “Maker” movement and all things STEAM.
“STEAM has become such an integral part of classroom curriculum that we are always looking for new and innovative ways to provide support and compliment what is being done in classrooms,” she says. “Our March event was an indoor cardboard challenge and we provided children with special cardboard construction tools for them to create anything they could dream up. Children built everything
from bunnies, to race cars, to a life size replica of samurai body armor!”
Cardboard for the event was gathered by the library itself, as well as local businesses including Weis Markets in Mansfield, Man Skirt Brewing, and Czig Meister Brewing in Hackettstown.
“Cardboard construction tools were purchased using money that was given to the Friends of Hackettstown Library by a generous benefactor who enjoys supporting educational programs in schools and libraries,” says Davis.
Davis says that the Cardboard Challenge allowed children to enjoy a “power of play” experience. “It provided children with the opportunity to utilize problem solving and critical thinking skills as they tried to figure out why one part of their roof was caving in, or how to build a secret passage. Each child that came to play had a different idea of what the structure should be; a rocket ship, a castle, a jail, and they had to work together to tell their own story and find ways to adapt their own ideas that would work with the rest of the group. It was also just a wonderful day of community engagement, making new friends, and open play!”
The library has a variety of story time programs and special events. Visit
www.hackettstownlibrary.org for more information, or call (908) 852-4936. Davis also notes that the library now utilizes Burbio, a free website and app that puts school, library, and other local events all in one calendar.
By Steve Sears