September 2012

  • Logos and Taglines Challenge

    September 20, 2012
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    Student Reflection - September 19, 2012

    Before today, I had only been a spectator of the various Weekly Innovation Challenges.  As a spectator alone, I have been able to quickly determine the distinct goal or lesson of each challenge that aligns with the mission of KEEN.  However, it is not until you become a participant and a competitor that you realize the challenges—simple or complex—have many lessons.  Some lessons may be subtle, but these are surely no less important than the obvious.

    Team diversity was especially key for this challenge. Fortunately, I was on a team consisting of a freshman from California, a junior whose family are immigrants from Vietnam, and myself, a senior born and raised in St. Louis.  Having people with different backgrounds and exposures allowed us to recognize the logos and taglines of various, successful companies presented to us, each with their own backgrounds.  

    Hours after the challenge, other lessons became evident.  In the beginning, we were informed that in the case of a tie, the team who submitted their answers first would win.  This inadvertently caused me to be too time-conscious and view the challenge as a race. In the end, there was not a tie; the team that was the most accurate, won.  This reinforced that you must strike a balance between time and accuracy.  In many cases, accuracy can outweigh the significance of time.

    The most subtle lesson I experienced from the challenge stemmed from the unique format of the multiple-choice forms.  The technique allowed multiple chances to obtain the right answer, but with each guess, there was a point-based penalty.  Similarly, in your career you may be given multiple chances to succeed at a particular task, but the more chances you take, the less rewarding your final, working solution may be. 

    Overall, spectating has its benefits, but participating is far more worthwhile and fun.  A challenge, even as straightforward as this one, can stimulate complex experiences and I look forward to participating in more.

    Winning Reflection - Shawn Ficker, Electrical Engineering

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  • A Spoonful of Sugar Challenge

    September 13, 2012
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    Student Reflection - September 12, 2012

    As a first time participant, I had no expectations about what I was getting into when I participated in this week’s innovation challenge. This week’s challenge involved presenting the judges with an idea to encourage people to do everyday tasks by making them fun. After seeing the two example videos, my team started brainstorming ideas about daily activities that people should do but often don’t, and how we could get people to do them. My team members and I started by discussing issues that affected us as SLU students and then expanded on our ideas to more global issues. As I worked in my group, I realized that the challenge had forced us and most likely everyone else who was participating to take a small issue and look at it in a way that helped many people. What was extremely engaging and rewarding about the experience was that there were so many different ideas coming from each person on my team that the hardest part of the challenge was not coming up with an idea, but it was having to pick just one idea.

    This experience allowed me to get a glimpse at what it would be like to work on a real team with people of various backgrounds. It was extremely fun to get to see everyone thought process and by the end, the challenge didn’t seem like a challenge. This week’s innovation challenge made me realize that this is the type of environment I want to be in when I start my career: a cohesive team that helps solve global issues by thinking of them in a fun way. I guess what I learned most of all was similar to the challenge itself: doing something important or necessary doesn’t have to be hard if you make it fun.

    Winning Reflection - Gayatri Nijsure

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  • Greatest Hits Challenge

    September 7, 2012
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    Student Reflection - September 5, 2012

    Participating in the “Greatest Hits” weekly innovation challenge, was a very rewarding experience.  It was the first time that I had participated in this event, and I learned many lessons from it.  I was on a team with an electrical engineer and computer engineer, who were both in a different grade level than me.  As we attempted the four challenges together, it was enlightening to see how we worked together to approach the challenges in order to achieve success.

    The first challenge we attempted was building the highest spaghetti tower.  Since we were given only a certain amount of materials, we had to plan our design structure ahead of time.  Since spaghetti is more commonly used as a dinner item than a material for building a tower, it was interesting to see the ideas we had and how we combined our individual ideas to design a tower that held a marshmallow at top.  This challenge taught me how important planning can be.

    The next challenges we attempted were the scavenger hunt and the boat made of aluminum foil.  These challenges demonstrated that sometimes simpler is better and that it can be helpful to divide up tasks.  The scavenger hunt did not require all three of our team members, and the quarter boat was found to work best when our structure was not extremely elaborate.  These lessons were informative showing that teamwork sometimes involves dividing tasks and that sometimes the most complex solution is not always the best.

    The final challenge entailed building a tower out of Solo, Styrofoam, and Dixie cups with one person blindfolded and the other team members giving instructions.  I was blindfolded and put in charge of building the tower.  Since I was the only one who could touch the cups and stack them in the desired configuration, I learned how important it is to rely on teammates and listen to others.  If I had to build the tower alone while blindfolded, I would not have been as successful.

    Overall, the innovation challenge provided me with many lessons concerning teamwork and design.  It was a great experience, and I look forward to the next innovation challenge!

    Winning Reflection - Elizabeth Kreienkamp

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