This version of Johannes Brahms’ “Lullaby” had a distinct sound to it.
Horizon Middle School student Hannah Jenkins picked out the famous melody on a simple keyboard, offering a slow and measured version of the tune. But the notes that emerged were unique; they had the resonance and power of Christmas bells.
This wasn’t the clean, hammered tone of your average piano.
Jenkins had a simple explanation for the effect. She had wanted a different sound when she designed and built the miniature piano herself as part of last year’s Cardboard Challenge organized by the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation. Along with hundreds of other elementary, middle and high school students from across the Cherry Creek School District, Jenkins conceived, designed and built the project using cardboard and other recycled materials.
Jenkins toted her winning creation to the Seawell Ballroom at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Complex on Aug. 27. Jenkins and three other Cardboard Challenge winners showed off their projects for attendees of the 2014 Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) Summit; the crowd of visitors included tech workers, business owners and other professionals from around the world. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also paused before entering the ballroom to admire the students’ work.
""What a treat to see the results of last year's COIN Summit come full circle with Cherry Creek School District's first ever Cardboard Challenge winners displaying their creations," Hickenlooper said. "The challenge demonstrates the value in sharing innovative stories to action-takers and we are thrilled to see the innovative spirit so strong in Colorado's kids."
Hickenlooper stopped at Jenkins’ piano to pick out a few simple melodies and ask about the creative process that went into building the cardboard instrument. In lieu of hammers and strings, Jenkins had opted for long nails and chimes made of conduit pipe; she fastened these parts together with fishing wire. Staying true to the rules of the challenge, Jenkins had nestled the entire complex network inside of a cardboard frame.
In fact, most of the homemade instrument was cardboard, including the keys, the pedals and the music stand attached to the front.
“At first, I was thinking of making a small Charlie Brown piano,” said Jenkins, who was enrolled at Arrowhead Elementary when she built the project with a little help from her father. “I got the idea from Christmas bells and chimes,” she added, “Everyone in my family plays the real piano.”
Along with Jenkins’ project, COIN attendees got to see a cardboard vending machine, a baby gym and an intricate toy, all designed by CCSD students. Angie Cave, a 10-year-old from Timberline Elementary, showed off a creation she called “The Perplexus,” a name taken from a toy of a similar design. She dropped a marble into a cardboard chute and followed its descent through a series of pipes, funnels and tracks, all rendered of cardboard. At the end of its journey, it struck a small bell and fell into a can.
Hickenlooper followed the marble’s progress and offered a wowed response when it reached the bottom.
“That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.
The Cherry Creek Schools Foundation’s 2014 Cardboard Challenge will run from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Cherokee Trail High School. For more information regarding the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Ashley Sommers at 720-554-4429.