Showker Prize Competition Provides Opportunities for Leadership and Problem-Solving

Projects Address Recycling, Climate Reform, Political Polarization and More

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  • Through the Showker Prize Competition, students are encouraged to identify problems in their community and then come up with solutions. Various projects this year include approaches such as social media campaigns, KCC tabling, posters and recycling bins placed around campus.

  • The yearly Showker Prize Competition is hosted by the Zane D. Showker Institute for Responsible Leadership, which offers a $5,000 cash prize to the winning team.

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Samantha Hince, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – The Showker Prize Competition is a year-long problem-solving competition sponsored by the Zane D. Showker Institute for Responsible Leadership.  Teams compete for a $5,000 cash prize to be split between team members. The teams are comprised of 5 to 10 students and have to represent at least three different majors. 

The competition was first held during the 2016-2017 school year and has been coordinated by Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Randall Young. According to the Showker webpage, the mission of the Zane D. Showker Institute is to “provide Bridgewater College students with opportunities that develop the skills needed to make them outstanding and responsible leaders, on and off campus.”  

The competition kicks off with the pitch in Oct., where each team presents a problem they have identified at Bridgewater or in a larger community, their solution to that problem and their proposed budget to complete their project. A panel of judges comprised of alumni and business leaders in the area offers feedback for each team on how to improve their project plan. 

Throughout the year, teams are invited to four Leadership Training events. These trainings help students prepare for various aspects of their project, as well as more general leadership and project management topics. 

Each team also puts together a website, which includes a video detailing their process in completing their project. The competition culminates in the reveal at the end of the year, where each team reveals their project in a Shark Tank-style presentation, and a new panel of judges ask rigorous questions to each team. After a short break, the judges announce the winners of the $5,000 cash prize. 

This year, there are four teams competing for the Showker Prize:

NetZero Plastics: Since Bridgewater is no longer collecting plastic on campus, NetZero Plastics is tackling this problem by placing green recycling bins in residential and academic buildings around campus. Their plan is to build a 10-foot sculpture with some of the plastic they collect, and the rest of the plastic will be disposed of at a recycling center. They are also launching a campaign on social media “to raise awareness and promote a more sustainable lifestyle,” according to team leader Joan Lee.

Adamat Ahava (“Love Earth”): This team looks to educate people about climate change and encourages people to take steps in their everyday lives to promote climate reform. “We want to give people and corporations simple solutions that are feasible and easy to integrate for climate change reform,” according to a team representative. A major component of their project is a pledge drive, kicked off with KCC tabling in February, where students are invited to pledge to take certain steps, such as recycling or using paper straws for one month.

Yalla Habibi (“Come on, my love”): Choosing political polarization as their problem to solve, this team believes that college is a very important time for meeting and engaging with people who hold different views from you. Their project includes a partnership with Campus Compact Virginia to provide training in dialogue mediation. 

Concrete Complete: This team is designing a new type of concrete, using chemicals found in plastic. Ideally, they will also be designing an app that would allow people to send notifications to VDOT of potholes that need to be filled. 

The Reveal for the Showker Prize was originally planned to be held on April 4th at 10:00 am in McKinney 100. However, it will likely be rescheduled due to Bridgewater closing for the coronavirus.