Year 8 IGNITE: Dyson Engineering Challenge

Can you design and build a chair from cardboard strong enough to support the weight of an adult?

This is the Dyson Engineering challenge the Year 8 IGNITE students have just completed. The girls were required to construct a usable chair from only cardboard and scissors.

The girls learnt about structures made from cardboard required to support the weight of an object, in this case, an adult. In addition, they developed their creative and critical thinking skills, along with communication and teamwork skills, all sort after skills for future employment and learning.

Here’s what the girls had to say.


To make the chair, we used many different engineering techniques, including ribbing, weaving, and structural support columns. We used double-layered cardboard on the outside to ensure the legs from collapsing outward. We also used many layers of ribbing on the inside of the stool to ensure that weight would be evenly distributed along the base and to make sure that pieces didn’t fall apart. The chair worked so well, so we don’t think that we needed to make any real modification, but we could add a back or some armrests for comfort and aesthetics. Other than that, no modifications are needed because the chair is extremely functional. Our favourite part of the challenge was making the weaving colourful and creating the ribbing, which was quite challenging, especially getting the pieces of cardboard to stay together without tape or glue. Overall, we were really happy with our chair!  Anika Zammit & Maddy Tilley


One of the main engineering techniques used throughout was having consecutive results every time the chair was used. To have this result we needed to be able to make sure the cardboard pieces were not very malleable and wouldn’t just break after a few uses. After the chair was tested and we saw that it was a bit dodgy we thought doing a few modifications would help, and it did. In the end, we were able to make a successful chair that could hold almost anyone willing to sit on it. Throughout this project, I really enjoyed being really creative and being able to do everything with a ‘hands-on’ experience.  Emily Molony


We decided to create a standard chair with four columns, at each corner, on the top of columns we wanted to create struts to keep the columns in place and weaving on top to create structural support. We created two columns, half the struts and half of the weaving and it had taken us two lessons. We were running out of time, so we decided to place the columns inside a box, inside another box. Once we placed the columns in the boxes, we strapped the columns to the side of the box by removing the top layer of cardboard. As a result, we had a box with a column at each corner. We then created struts through getting about twenty long pieces of cardboard, cutting the tops at cm intervals and flipped 10 of the pieces of cardboard and placed them on top of the other 10 long pieces of cardboard but in the opposite direction. Last but not least we created the weaving pattern to evenly disperse the weight, add structural support and visual appeal. My job was to create a weaving pattern. I very much enjoyed doing the weaving because it was challenging due the amount of time needed to cut out the long pieces of cardboard and actually weave the pieces of cardboard in and out of the other cardboard pieces.  Annalise Hermann

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