Teaching Entrepreneurship Outside-The-Box with Cardboard Boxes

By Alaine Davis, middle school Montessori teacher in Bothell, WA, and Jenny Burns, Community Coordinator for Allen Distinguished Educators
July 6, 2016

Award-winning project replicated with DIY Guide grant from Allen Distinguished Educators

DIY Guide grants ensure adoption of ADE-created classroom projects and practices across a diverse range of schools – engaging student of all backgrounds.
Alaine-Davis-Classroom-Instruction-(1).jpg“Middle school students can become very passionate about making the world a better place,” explained Alaine Davis, a middle school teacher and DIY Guide grantee from Allen Distinguished Educators. “The 52-Minute Challenge presented a great opportunity for my students to take action.” Davis is one of 28 teachers to receive a DIY Guide grant from the ADE program in winter of 2016

In this project, students get one class period (52 minutes) to find a real problem on campus, document it, develop a solution and prepare a presentation. The main goal of this engineering and entrepreneurship project, developed by 2014 ADE awardee Glenn Corey, is to highlight the importance of collaboration when working under a tight deadline. Download materials for this project.

Teachers are encouraged to creatively adjust the projects to suit the unique needs of their students and classroom environments. 

Learn how Alaine modified and adapted this project:

How Glenn Did It

  • School: Novato High School 
  • Type of School: Public - District 
  • Location: Novato, CA 
  • School Population: 1358 
  • Demographic: 43% minority students 
  • % Free/reduced lunch program: 34%
  • Grade: 11th & 12th
  • Timing: 2 days (52 Minute Periods)
  • Subjects: Business concepts, engineering and design, and real-world learning
  • Materials: Roger Von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack, computers, smart phones or cameras, sketch pads and pens, and sticky notes
  • Project Steps: Project is completed in two class periods (each 52 minutes long)

Watch Glenn’s interactive guided tour and download his complete project materials

How Alaine Did It

  • School: Woodinville Montessori (K-12)
  • Type of School: Private - Montessori
  • Location: Bothell, WA
  • School Population: 205
  • Demographic: 32% minority students
  • % Free/reduced lunch program: 0%
  • Grade: 7th & 8th
  • Timing: 1 day (One 2-hour-and-15-minute block)
  • Subjects: Engineering and design, creative brainstorming, teamwork and collaboration, technology, real-world learning and presentation skills
  • Materials: Computers, smart phones, cardboard boxes, masking tape, and sharpies
  • Project Steps: Project is completed in one afternoon block during “Immersion Week”
More details will be available soon.


Featured project adaptations by Alaine: 

  • Introduced creating thinking strategies with a mashup activity
  • Students met in groups of five rather than four for presentation efficiency
  • Added a prototyping exercise with cardboard, tape and sharpies
  • Reviewed 8-minute IDEO redesign of a shopping cart video to connect the lesson with a real-world example
  • Engaged her class to reflect on the project and lessons-learned in a review activity

Student work from Glenn's class

“Gymba,” an automatic gym cleaner that remotely sweeps and waxes gymnasiums. Visit the 52 Minute Challenge page to learn more.


Student work from Alaine's class

Student determines what they know and what they need to know to ascertain if they can travel to Morgantown, WV and back with the calories from one burrito. 
“Overall, students were very engaged in and positive about this project. I would definitely do it again,” said Davis. “The DIY Guide and the grant made it easy to implement and had great results.”

The ADE program was developed by Paul G. Allen based on his belief that innovation is a key driver in improving learning opportunities for young people. “Innovative education means teachers don't get stuck in a rut and keep doing the same lessons that feel comfortable and familiar to them,” explained Davis. “While this new project didn't require anything more sophisticated than cardboard and tape, the students' imaginations took them in very innovative directions, and they came alive with the experience.” 

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