Alexander Williams, 11, built a fully-functioning, 4-foot-long pinball machine out of cardboard, Popsicle sticks and rubber bands. A player can launch a ping pong ball using a paper towel roll and rubber band and guide it through the machine with Popsicle stick levers.
His pinball machine was one of many homemade arcade games built at the Teen STEAM Radd Cobra Arcade camp at the Boys and Girls Club of the Umpqua Valley on Wednesday morning.
At the start of the camp, the kids were posed with a question: Can we build a working arcade out of cardboard for the younger campers to play with by Friday?
They were given materials like cardboard, rubber bands, popsicle sticks, hot glue, tape and cotton balls to make arcade games.
Marcus Vela, education director for the Boys and Girls Club, said the camp is all about inquiry-based learning.
“The staff members are here to ask refined questions or to point to where materials are but not to give them answers,” Vela said. “They have to go through the process of the scientific method, some engineering, creativity … they have to kind of figure that out as they go.”
Nakota Root, 12, built a fishing game out of an old box, Styrofoam, paper and paper clips. Players will use a makeshift fishing rod to try and catch Styrofoam fish in the box.
“This is a classic fishing game,” Nakota said. “The point of the game is just to, like, have fun and try to get the most points.”
Nakota’s game was inspired by a fishing video game she plays on the Wii.
“I thought it would be really fun to bring the video game and turn it into a cardboard game you can play in real life,” Nakota said.
Taylor Brooks, the youth program coordinator at Boys and Girls Club, said the kids have access to iPads to research different arcade games if they have trouble thinking of an idea.
“It’s awesome. Everyone’s super creative, so I’m really excited to see the end results,” Brooks said.
Nallely Montoya, 11, and Anjel Csernak, 12, taped pieces of cardboard together to construct a “snack station” for the arcade.
“We’re making a snack station because it’s an arcade,” Nallely said. “It’s better to have a snack station at the arcade than to not, because it’s what they usually have at the arcade.”
The pair plans to build a window to serve their customers out of and create some cardboard snacks and a menu.
Other games included Skee-Ball, miniature basketball toss, finger football and balloon darts.
Vela said the Boys and Girls Camp can bridge the gap between what kids learn in school and show them how to apply it in real life. For example, last week students were able to learn about fractions and ratios in an interactive cooking class.
“I think it’s important because a lot of the schools don’t have enough resources to do this stuff,” Vela said. “For us, as the Boys and Girls club or just as a nonprofit in the area, sometimes we have some of the resources.”