A Cookie for Your Thoughts? USD Students Win Tech-Life Balance Challenge with Innovative Idea

A Cookie for Your Thoughts? USD Students Win Tech-Life Balance Challenge with Innovative Idea

Nikta Shahbaz and Sara Badrani, College of Arts and Sciences students and winners of the Changemaker Hub and Humanities Center's Tech-Life Balance Challenge, will be taking their winning Challenge Cookies project on the road; virtually, for now. On April 25, they joined winning teams from universities around the country at the virtual LookUp Innovators Showcase, where they presented their award-winning idea to the broader LookUp Community and network with peer innovators, funders, and advisers. We look forward to trying their Challenge Cookies when we're back on campus!

The Tech-Life Balance Competition is an initiative encouraging USD students to consider ways to find more balance between technology and life. The competition is co-sponsored by the Humanities Center and the Changemaker Hub in partnership with the national organization.

In fall 2019, students met to brainstorm ideas, form teams, and develop proposals for projects and events to implement on campus. Several teams presented creative and innovative ideas to shift social norms on campus and help USD students find balance between their tech use and their real lives. The winning team was awarded a $5000 grant to implement their project on campus and to attend the LookUp Collaborative Summit with winning teams from schools around the country.

Undergraduate students Nikta Shahbaz and Sara Badrani came up with this year's winning project: Challenge Cookies, fortune style cookies that contain a challenge that invites students to get off their phones and instead engage in meaningful relationships. Some of the challenges include: "Message a friend today and ask them how they're doing" and "Walk across campus today without looking at your phone." On the day the cookies are distributed, students will also be invited to attend a lecture by a USD faculty member about tech-life balance on campus.

Nikta and Sara want to encourage students to find a balance between technology and their daily lives by focusing on building meaningful relationships, both with and without the use of technology. When brainstorming for ideas, they decided that they wanted their project to be technology-free, engaging for college students, and available to the greater USD community. They hope that their Challenge Cookies will cause students to reflect on and spark a larger conversation regarding a tech-life balance.

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