Education / 2013

The Caines Arcade Challenge

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Imagination Foundation

10,000 children in Los Angeles will start their 2013 school year by participating in the Caine’s Arcade Challenge. Hosted by the Imagination Foundation and inspired by the short film, “Caine’s Arcade,” this Challenge will foster creativity and celebrate the imagination of children by inviting elementary and middle school-aged youth to design and build fun and engaging arcade games made from cardboard, recycled materials and imagination.

“Caine’s Arcade” has been widely cited as one of the most inspirational stories of 2012. The film has received nearly 8 million views, trended worldwide on Twitter, gathered a Facebook community of 130,000+ fans, and inspired a wave of cardboard creativity in backyards and classrooms across the globe.

During the month of September, children participating in the Caine’s Arcade Challenge will design and build cardboard arcades in schools all over the Southland; then on October 5th, commemorating the flashmob that came out to make Caine’s day in the short film, communities will come together and play. On this day, the “Day of Play,” children will operate their arcades to raise money to support various local causes, practicing the value of social entrepreneurship. And adults will learn the simple things they can do to foster a child’s creativity.

Though focused on Los Angeles, the Caine’s Arcade Challenge will coincide with our Global Cardboard Challenge that will take place in 70 countries and serve 1 million children. Our first Global Cardboard Challenge was in 2012 and included a unique range of participants - from a school district in Texas to an Eco-Art Park in Uganda, from Adobe Offices in San Francisco to the Warehouse Project in Sri Lanka. Kids repurposed cardboard into games, toys, robots and spaceships - whatever they could imagine. Along the way they learned about teamwork, problem solving, creativity and the value of recycling. Watch footage from last year’s Challenge at: www.imagination.is/gcc_videos.

The Caine’s Arcade Challenge will provide thousands of children in Los Angeles a crash course in creativity and social entrepreneurship. 500 teachers will learn effective project-based learning inspired by the Caine’s Arcade story, and thousands of members of the Los Angeles community will come out to play at cardboard arcades built by kids.

During the Challenge, student participants will be part of a project-based learning environment of unprecedented scale that inspires invention and makes leaning fun. Students will engage in a simple process that develops creativity, and along the way, they will learn: Design Thinking, Math and Financial LIteracy, Engineering, Social Entrepreneurship and the value of Recycling. Where appropriate, all content standards will be aligned to the Common Core.

Student learning will occur in a uniquely connected environment as children from Los Angeles will have opportunities to showcase their work along with children participating in the Global Challenge in other countries. Some classes will Skype with other classes as far away as Costa Rica, Uganda and Bali. Many of the classes participating in the Challenge will take field trips to the actual Caine’s Arcade site in Boyle Heights for hands-on inspiration and real world connection.

The Challenge is designed as follows: - A 2-4 week project-based learning curriculum, conducted in the month of September, derived from the “Caine’s Arcade” short film, and aimed at fostering creative thinking and social entrepreneurship. - Field trips to the Caine’s Arcade site in Boyle Heights to enhance the learning experience and inspire participants. - The “Day of Play” on October 5 when children will operate their cardboard arcades and raise money for various local causes. - Professional development for teacher participants during August. - A Caine’s Arcade community website will showcase the Challenges, locate the arcades, and capture an expansive catalogue of content uploaded by Challenge participants.

About the Imagination Foundation: The mission of the Imagination Foundation is to find, foster and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children around the world to raise a new generation of innovators and problem solvers who have the tools they need to build the world they imagine.

We accomplish our mission by building a worldwide movement that celebrates imagination and fosters creativity. To fuel this movement, we produce and amplify inspirational stories of creative children, orchestrate large-scale events, campaigns and challenges, and grow an ecosystem of rich content to equip teachers, parents and communities everywhere with the tools and knowledge they need to develop child creativity.


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

On the last day of summer, through a chance encounter, filmmaker Nirvan Mullick met Caine Monroy, a 9-year-old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade inside his dad’s East LA auto parts shop. Nirvan was Caine’s first customer. Amazed by the boy’s creativity, Nirvan organized a flash mob of customers to surprise Caine and make his day. Then he made a film about it.

The Imagination Foundation is a new organization, but is rapidly becoming the leader of a worldwide movement to foster creativity, imagination and entrepreneurship in children. The film that launched the Imagination Foundation, “Caine’s Arcade,” has been widely cited as one of the most inspirational stories of 2012. The film has received nearly 8 million views, trended worldwide on Twitter, gathered a Facebook community of 130,000+ fans, and inspired a wave of cardboard creativity in backyards and classrooms across the globe. The Christian Science Monitor calls the film a “great American story,” and Wired Magazine writes, “It’s a sweet story that brings viewers back to a time of potent imagination and creativity.”

Our first Global Cardboard Challenge took place in October 2012, with thousands of participants in 41 countries on six continents.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

As a large-scale community event, the Caine’s Arcade Challenge will engage numerous stakeholders, including schools, districts, charter management organizations, community groups, colleges and universities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, government and elected offices, and general members of the Los Angeles community.

Trash for Teaching will be able to provide recycled materials. Skype in the Classroom will help connect classes here in Los Angeles with classes in other parts of the world.

Media partners, such as YouTube, will promote and feature Challenge activities.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

The success of the Caine’s Arcade Challenge will be measured by multiple factors, including: those that demonstrate the level and degree of participation in the Challenge; those that demonstrate the level of school engagement and attitudes toward school; those that demonstrate mastery of key standards related to creative thinking, problem solving and social entrepreneurship; and those that demonstrate mastery of STEM-related content (such as math and engineering).

The scale of the Challenge is critical to its success, so we will track the number of participants across four major groups: children, teachers, schools and general members of the community who will attend the Day of Play at local cardboard arcades in their area.

Success will also be measured by the amount of money raised by children operating their cardboard arcades on October 5, the Day of Play.

The quality and amount of online content uploaded during the time period of the Challenge will be carefully tracked and managed to ensure an expansive web catalogue of Challenge activities. Built on top of a simple and robust open source platform, this website will register Challenge participants, provide participant content feeds for uploading and sharing relevant material, show the various cardboard arcade locations, and handle RSVP’s for local Day of Play events.

Surveys to assess teacher satisfaction will be completed online.

An assessment administered by teachers through a short online question bank will measure the proficiency of student participants with regard to appropriate Common Core standards outlined in the Caine’s Arcade curriculum, as well as unique standards that demonstrate an increase in creative thinking, Social Emotional Learning, and attitudes toward school.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

We envision a city in which creativity is a core social value and a critical skill developed in every child; where the innate passion, curiosity and creativity of children is nurtured in schools, homes and communities everywhere; where all children are taught to be creative thinkers and doers, and encouraged to make their very best ideas happen in the world.

The Caine’s Arcade Challenge will celebrate and develop the creativity and social entrepreneurship of children on a grand scale throughout the Southland. The Challenge will also showcase the role adults can play in fostering these traits. Specifically, the Challenge will engage 10,000 children, 500 teachers, 100 schools, building over 100 cardboard arcades, and raising over $25,000 for local charitable causes.

Student participants will become more creative, more entrepreneurial and more empathetic. Teacher participants will become more proficient at project-based learning and more networked to each other locally and globally. Other adult participants who attend events on the Day of Play will learn about the simple things they can do to foster creativity in children. The scale of the event will raise public awareness about the value of creativity.

Over the course of the Challenge, project-based learning and social entrepreneurship will proliferate throughout the city. A website designed for the Challenge will capture content from the various participants: photos, videos, lesson plans, activity kits, blogs and other content will showcase the ingenuity of students and their teachers, and become sources for inspiration and the mass proliferation of project-based learning beyond the scope of the Challenge itself.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2050, creativity will be a core social value and a critical skill fostered and developed in every school and community. Creativity will be as fundamental to the education of our children as literacy, and schools will be designed accordingly. In 2050, we will have a thriving network of “Imagination Chapters” throughout LA County, and every school and community center will have devoted space for children to discover their passions and practice building the things they imagine. Angelenos - young and old - will face the challenges of our city with optimism, invention and creativity.