Vegetable Arch Challenge

February 14, 2013
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Student Reflection - February 13, 2013

Every week, the Weekly Innovation Challenge gives me an engaging chance to step away from the demands of classes and coursework for an hour or so. As a junior biochemistry major, I have been with the same close-knit group of students for three years now, and these challenges give me a unique way to step outside my discipline and meet people from many different backgrounds. This week’s Vegetable Arch Challenge was certainly no exception.

For the challenge, each three-person team was given a bag of assorted vegetables with some wooden skewers, a knife, and a cutting board. The objective was to create the most ascetically pleasing, freestanding arch that reached at least two feet tall. Today, I came to the challenge without any other team members, but a pair of international students quickly welcomed me. My team was a unique combination of majors: aerospace engineering, accounting, and biochemistry. With our different countries of origin and
interests, my group clearly showed the diversity that is an integral part of our university.

Right away, we realized the importance of using the heavier building materials, such as the potatoes, for lower on the arch while saving the lighter pieces for higher features. Working together, we designed a two-tiered system of a tall thin arch above a shorter, wider one. Even though we initially had difficulties stabilizing the structure, creative use of celery sticks and the quick thinking of my teammates overcame these. It may not have been the prettiest design, but I am proud to say that ours was one of the few arches that remained standing long enough for judging.

Even though our team did not win this week, I am glad I had another opportunity to meet and work with new people from outside my usual experiences. I look forward to next week’s challenge and another chance to experience SLU’s diverse community.

Winning Reflection - Steve Doonan

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