Minute to Win It Challenge

April 18, 2013
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Student Reflection - April 17, 2013

Every time I compete, the Weekly Innovation Challenge provides a great opportunity to work with people from all different disciplines. Usually, the challenges require us to pool our knowledge and creativity to accomplish whatever task is presented. Going into the challenge, I felt confident that among my team of a biomedical engineering major, a business major, and me, a biochemistry major, we would have the knowledge to address any problem we would have to solve.

Instead of combining our knowledge, the Minute to Win It Challenge required us to examine our own individual skills. For the challenge, four stations were set up with unrelated activities. At the first station, team members had to balance 6 dice on a popsicle stick held by one teammate’s mouth. The next station required one team member to remove all the cards except the bottom joker from a deck balanced on a water bottle by blowing air at them. The third station had an individual juggle three large balloons in the air without letting any fall. Finally, the fourth station required a teammate to transfer one silver cup from the bottom to the top of a large stack of cups by moving the upper cups to the bottom of the stack one by one. Additionally, they could only use one hand at a time and were required to alternate between left and right hands for each new cup. These tasks might not have seemed too daunting if only there was no catch: the one-minute time limit.

For the dice challenge, my most balanced teammate and I quickly worked together to beat the event. As the engineer in the group, he realized that he could provide more stability to the popsicle stick by leaning on the table. Once that was accomplished, I quickly stacked the dice with most of our minute still remaining. The second challenge would not be so easy. Among my teammates, I was uniquely qualified by being a trumpet player in the Billiken Pep Band. I had no trouble controlling the airflow to knock off the top of the card stack, but the difficulty increased as the number of cards decreased. During our short practice session, I carefully puffed one card after another until only the Joker remained. My luck did not hold for the timed trial. Down to three cards with 25 seconds left, the cards toppled, and we reset the stack. As I hurried to begin the challenge anew, a balloon from the next event whizzed by, breaking my concentration. I was unsuccessful, but no other group accomplished the task either.

As we practiced for the balloon juggling event, the engineer again seemed the most capable for the task. Even though he did not keep the balloons in the air for the full minute during our practice runs, he shined during the actual trial. Even when a few of the balloons started to drift away, he kept a cool head and stayed light on his feet for most of the minute. He may have been on the floor, frantically hitting them in the last ten seconds, but our team ultimately succeeded at that task.

We began practicing the cup-stacking event, and I realized that I am nowhere near ambidextrous. I would be unable to do the challenge. As my two teammates continued, we saw that our business major teammate was, by far, the fastest. Of the massive stack of cups to get through, she came within 5 or so as time expired, a close loss. We were surprised to learn that one team had succeeded, winning the entire competition as a result.

Although my team came in second place, the event was a good learning experience. While every Weekly Innovation Challenge shows that one can never anticipate problems and results, this challenge demonstrated that everyone has the potential to make unique contributions to the group. Even though our different courses of study did not enter into the outcome of the events, it was our personal skill sets and strengths that really mattered.

Winning Reflection - Steve Doonan

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