Daddy Engineer: Cardboard Playhouse | Design Squad


Hey, I’m Nate
from Design Squad. This is my son Calvin. Calvin’s 16 months old, and he loves to play
and climb on things. I think he would really enjoy
having a play structure right here in our backyard. What I think would be great is
to use some recycled materials to build him a play structure
out of cardboard, and then when he grows
out of it, I’ll just throw the whole thing
in the recycling bin. – Go! – I want to start getting
some of my ideas out of my head and onto paper, where I can look at them
and think about them. Rather than prototype
the whole system, test it out,
and build the whole thing again, instead, I’m going to use
the design process to design, build, and test parts
of the whole thing as I go. First, I designed, built,
and tested the beams that’ll support the slide. This is just a single sheet
of cardboard. We know that’s not going
to hold up Calvin. I’m going to try folding
the sheet into a triangle-shaped beam. Super easy to make
with corrugated cardboard, and so much stronger
than the sheet by itself. Let’s see about this
50-pound weight. Oh, yeah. Look at how strong that beam is! This thing will hold up Calvin
no problem. Next, I built the slide. He’s testing it out already. I think he likes it. So Calvin just climbed onto
design version one of the slide, so it was flat, and then
when Calvin climbed into it, it got this nice
curved shape to it. I think it could actually
help him stay safely contained a lot better
than a flat platform, like I was first thinking. – Wow! – Thanks, buddy. That’s an even better design
than I thought of. Now, we still have a really
important test to do. The slide has
to be strong enough to support Calvin’s weight
when he’s right in the middle. That means it’s got to be
strong enough to be a bridge. It’s supporting the 50 pounds! I think we’re gonna be good. Safe! Next, I designed, built,
and tested the columns. Now, I have four columns. If this thing
gets squished like this, it’ll compromise the integrity
of the entire thing. So what I’m gonna do is this:
cut some circles of cardboard. I’m gonna cut some slits
in those pancake shapes and smash the pancakes in. The column is really strong
this way, but not this way. This pancake is
pretty strong this way in the direction
that the column is not. If I put the two together,
I’ll get a very strong column that’s good in two directions. Just get a little tape
to hold that in place. I mean, it definitely helps, but it’s actually not
as strong as I wanted. But I do have another idea
based off of this idea. That’s how these things go
sometimes. You try something out, works okay,
not quite how you wanted, got a new idea
that might work a bit better. Instead of smashing the disc
onto the inside of the column, I’m folding the tabs
onto the outside. I think this will support
the slide a little bit better, and it’s faster to build,
and it just looks a lot cleaner. Of course, if you’re building
anything out of cardboard, you’re gonna use duct tape. Hey, can you hand me
some duct tape? But we’re building a fun, cool
kids’ play structure. I’m gonna use some of this. Finally, tape that matches
how fun the project is. I spent a lot of time getting
these columns nice and strong. 50 pounds. I think these are gonna be good. But I don’t just need strength
for this thing to work. I need strength and stability. I have to hold them steady
in relation to one another to help keep the entire
structure from falling over with Calvin on top of it. This extra structure
I’m adding at the bottom is gonna help
with our stability. I’ve got the column supported
really well. Now, up at the top
is a good little platform that’s helping tie
the whole thing together so I have both strength to hold
up Calvin and stability so the strong structure won’t
just tip over with him on top. You think you can fit
through this? Calvin, your entry portal
is ready. I’ve observed him doing a lot of
climbing recently– climbing onto chairs, trying to climb
onto the kitchen table– so I figured
an approach like this with just stacking
some boxes together would be a pretty safe bet
for him to be able to get in. He seems to really enjoy
the challenge of getting up
onto something tall. And test number one of climbing
structure: successful! You like it? Good climbing. It’s a slide. You want to go down the slide? Bye-bye! (laughs) Hey, buddy, was that fun? You wanna go again? So the first test of the slide
seems like a huge success. In fact, at the same time,
I got to test, “Is the box fun to play in?” The answer was yes to both. Calvin desperately wanted
to get in the box. Bye-bye! Not every project gets
this successful this early, but it’s always fun
when they do. Calvin’s just figured out
the idea of repurposing.

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