Rubik’s Snake Contest Brings Unity Amid Pandemic
PROVO, Utah – Jul 27, 2020 –
The last thing BYU Marriott MPA student Kaylee Anderson expected when she opened up a package from the MPA program was a Rubik's snake— a puzzle chain of triangular prisms that could be twisted and molded into different shapes or objects. But as she read the instructions that accompanied the puzzle, she understood the purpose of it all: the MPA program was hosting its first ever Rubik’s snake contest.
The idea for the contest came as a result of some leftover Rubik’s snakes that were previously used during an MPA faculty conference. “We used the Rubik’s snakes once for marketing purposes at a conference,” says Heather Chewning, program manager for the MPA program at the BYU Marriott School of Business, who also helped facilitate the Rubik’s snake contest. “We ordered a lot of them because we were planning on using them for a separate conference for the same reason. Then when COVID-19 happened, we thought it would be a fun way to connect with our students.”
While the contest was primarily designed for first-year MPA students, all MPA students were invited to participate. “The program had already done several things for our recent graduates, and I wanted to make sure our first-year students knew that we cared about them too,” says Chewning. “The contest was something to let them know we were thinking about them during finals amid all the changes.”
The winners were chosen through votes cast by program students, faculty, and staff. First place went to student Michael Lee from Provo for his Rubik’s T-Rex. Second place was a tie between student Erika Holdstock from Centerville, Utah, who created a hat holder, and Anderson, from Whangārei, New Zealand, for her creation of a Rubik’s giraffe. Finally, third place went to student Spencer Flake from Westchester, New York, who created a dog named Otis. All winners were first-year students when they entered the contest.
The contest helped Anderson feel more connected to the program, although many students had left campus and returned home. “I appreciated that the program reached out to us. Their efforts made me feel part of the MPA family even though we were not together,” she says. Creating her submission required some experimentation. “I had never played with a Rubik’s snake before,” she says. “I chose to make a giraffe because it’s one of my favorite animals.”
Flake also felt better connected with the MPA program during this contest and appreciated that he could focus on something else during the pandemic. “I enjoyed the distraction from all of the craziness,” says Flake. “The Rubik’s snakes were sent out during finals, and being able to connect with the program and my fellow students in the middle of the lockdown was nice.”
Chewning also agrees that the Rubik’s snake contest was a welcome distraction during a time of transition. “The contest was special to be a part of, and it was so simple. We were trying to help the students, and they helped us just as much, if not more,” she says. “Some sunshine and happiness in the midst of all the craziness was shared throughout the program, all because of one little Rubik’s snake.”
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Sarah Calvert