Part of a Balanced ICE CaPS

img_2244This year’s ICE CaPS got off to a memorable start last Wednesday, as the newly-welcomed sophomores were given their first taste of what the program has to offer. After the traditional introduction, these intrepid participants were thrust into a gripping Cereal Box Character Showdown – relying on their creativity and wit to prove the superiority of their favorite cereal box characters.

The evening began in the typical fashion. Participants were welcomed with pizza. As an apt introduction to the program, we watched and discussed Ken Robinson’s excellent TED Talk, “Do schools kill creativity?,” which lays out the thought-provoking argument that the rigidly-structured educational systems of the world today are discouraging the creative potential of their pupils. Our illustrious director, II Luscri, clarified that his name is not “Il” and outlined the requirements of the program.

Then began the Cereal Box Character Showdown. Former participants in the program may recall the infamous cereal box character question: on the ICE CaPS application, prospective participants are asked to select a cereal box character to represent them, and to give a brief explanation of their choice. We leveraged the results to break the ICE CaPperS into groups based on their chosen characters. Then, each group had a few minutes to get together and talk over the various merits of its character. There was a lively discourse as the participants, many of whom were strangers to one another, met and bonded over their mutual admiration of their favorite cereal box characters.

Then, with gleeful schadenfreude, the mentors announced that ICE CaPS needs a new mascot, and each group would have only a few frantic minutes to come up with a pitch and a campaign poster on behalf of their chosen character! This was an especially wicked circumstance for the two “miscellaneous” teams: catch-all groups of those ICE CaPperS who had chosen uncommon characters, who then needed to choose their candidate from among their members’ several picks.

One by one, the teams pitched their characters for the scrutiny of the mentors. The Lucky the Leprechaun campaign declared: “There’s always gold at the end of our rainbow!” and posed the question, “Seriously, who doesn’t like gold?” One of the miscellaneous teams, having chosen to run the Raisin Bran Sun, offered us a neat and lovely poster that made creative use of colorful pipe cleaners. The other miscellaneous team gave a zazzy pitch for “Toucan Sam wearing a Snap-Crackle-Pop Outfit,” running with the slogan “Two-can find a solution!” The Trix Rabbit team scored major points by extolling the creativity of the kids for whom the cereal is designed, making a link to Ken Robinson’s TED Talk. There were two Tony the Tiger teams. The first cleverly used pipe cleaners as whiskers on their poster; the second brazenly entreated the audience: “Make cereal great again!,” “Earn your stripes America!” and “We need a cereal box character who doesn’t steal from children.”

The mentors deliberated and nominated Toucan Sam, the Trix Rabbit and the second Tony the Tiger as our top three picks, and the ICE CaPperS were asked to vote among them with their applause. Ultimately, it was the unabashed sensationalism of the second Tony the Tiger team that won the hearts of ICE CaPS.

All told, it surely was a vigorous exercise in creativity and a scintillating start to what promises to be an outstanding year for ICE CaPS.