Published: Aug. 17, 2020 By

The Sko Together Challenge has officially wrapped up! This student-led design challenge invited CU Boulder undergraduate students to imagine ways they can have a connected campus community experience no matter how we are living, learning and working through the pandemic.

Over the past 10 weeks, our team of three College of Arts and Sciences undergraduate student interns designed, launched and promoted the challenge, in addition to recruiting and guiding 52 undergraduate students—half of whom are enrolled in Arts and Sciences—through the execution of the challenge.

The challenge was co-sponsored by the ASSETT Innovation Incubator, the Research & Innovation Office’s (RIO) Innovation and Entrepreneurship team and the College of Arts & Sciences Community Engagement initiative.

This student-led initiative was an important project to our interns, judges and participants. As students, a main concern of returning to campus—or moving to campus for the first time—is how we will stay connected with our peers despite the physical distance imposed by the pandemic.

It was imperative to keep the Sko Together Challenge a student-driven initiative—by students, for students—because we want to be a part of the solution. Students’ needs are valid, our perspectives are valuable, and our voices need to be heard. Individuals’ originality and diversity are what makes up the campus community. How we adapt to the new normal of campus life is up to us, and the intern team is excited to have had the opportunity to play a role in helping fellow undergrads make their voices heard. We are excited to see the implementation of students’ collaborative, interactive and inclusive solutions!

The challenge began with a kickoff event that gave participants the opportunity to meet the intern team and other participants. Our team provided an overview of what to expect during the challenge and fielded questions. Three brainstorming sessions were offered throughout the challenge for participants to ask interns clarifying questions, spitball ideas and get others’ perspectives on their final submissions.

Fifteen teams went through two rounds of judging, which involved the top six teams engaging in a Q&A session to further pitch their ideas. As the challenge was designed and executed by undergraduate students, it was also judged by an independent panel of fellow undergraduates.

More than 50 participants engaged in answering the question: How might we creatively use our resources to support meaningful connections within our campus community while physically distancing? Each idea was unique. We received many wonderful submissions in the form of slide presentations, videos and memos.

Some ideas to cultivate campus connection included: virtual events; community engaging and inclusive apps and websites; and socially distanced in-person events such as an egg hunt, a collaborative mural and drive-in movie style viewings of clubs’ performances. The first-place team pitched an online, social arcade, the second-place team pitched a blog where students can share recipes, and the third-place team pitched Zoom dinner parties to facilitate new connections between students.

Congratulations to the Sko Together Challenge winners:

  • First place: Emma Goodwill and Ishika Patel, creators of A Third Place: Online Arcade
  • Second place: Robin Tutchton, Marie Obermeir and Lily-Page Hartwell, creators of More Than Ramen
  • Third place: Ryan Block and Joshua Sun, creators of Zoom Dinner Parties

It was incredible to witness the time, effort, enthusiasm and creativity that students dedicated to their ideas. The top three placing teams have been awarded $1,500 to seed implementation of their ideas and mentorship to develop their campus connection concepts throughout fall 2020. We are also working to connect non-placing teams to departments on campus in an effort to see those ideas come to fruition, as well. The Sko Together Team is excited to continue developing implementation strategies with students.