Lessons from Caine

Here is a little activity that you can do with staff when returning to school to get the wheels turning on project based learning inspired by this awesome video.

Take the Alberta Education Competency Wheel below:

Then watch this AMAZING video below about a self-initiated project done by a pretty cool kid:

As you watch the video, write down all of the things that the student did on his own to meet the expectations as listed in the “Competency Wheel”.  Are all elements touched upon in this project?  Discuss some ideas or projects that you can do with students that would be similar as a whole staff or within teams.

You could also discuss this article that has some lessons taken away from the video (quote shortened below):

1. Boredom is more of a statement about the person than the situation. “Hey Caine…want to come spend the summer with me in the back of my barely-trafficked auto parts store?” For most kids this would be summer vacation equivalent of the kiss of death. There was no gaming system. No swimming pool. No television. A perfect excuse for “I’m booooooorrrred.”

But NO. Caine looked around and saw opportunity. Everywhere. Cardboard boxes, packing tape, gadgets and doo-dads. He chose not to be bored. It’s totally a state of mind.

2. Keep working while the world ignores you. How long was it before Caine had customer #1? How many entrepreneurs or artists would have given up by then, or stopped working at their craft and improving their skills? Caine approached his arcade with craftsmanship and fervor, and that’s what I aspire to do too.

3. Your craft will cost you something. Did you notice the prizes in the arcade? Caine’s own toys. His vision for his arcade required (demanded!) that he use all of his resources to make it work, and this meant forfeiting his own stuff for the sake of his vision.

Better yet, show the video to kids and discuss the wheel with them.  Get them thinking on projects that they can initiate that would include these elements and would be something that they are interested in doing.  Perhaps have them do some proposals of projects that they can do that would be an all year idea or could be used as the basis of a capstone project.

Just a few ideas…If you have any others, please share in the comments below.



  1. Great stuff. Am now just learning about all the potential of PBL and how it's becoming even more relevant with the readily available technology that is at student's fingertips.

  2. Great opportunity to demonstrate to staff what's mean bt 21st Century Literacies and how ourstudetsarready to take on learning that has meaning to them!

    • Your website is very chatty. It will be useful for all of us. You have done a work. I will come here again to inspect new updates. Thanks for posting.

  3. More like a 20th or 19th century kid; no organized activities, IPADS, lessons; just left to his own devices; kids need more downtime; less “Competency Wheel” analysis.

  4. This is fantastic. I've never seen that video before. Absolutely inspiring.

    • Seriously? Many of our schools implemented a "Caine's Arcade" day this year.

  5. Students get inspired by any rudimentary materials and tools we place before them. But those materials disappear by grade 5 or 6. It is no coincidence that engagement begins to wane as these materials are taken away. Imagine if we could add some measure of expertise, tools and materials other than just cardboard (which is a great medium) in our classrooms!

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