POW! at TLA 2018 Conference

Congratulations to Tricia Boucher, Texas State University, and Kristina Krengel, Birdville ISD, for their outstanding performance in the Pitch of the Week (POW!) contest at Texas Library Association Annual Conference! Their team, The Pop Culture Homages, came up with the idea for the “Beat Box Blender Bar,” a method for creating mixed drinks from a set of three remote-controlled blenders that create musical beats. As you make music using the wireless remote controlled blenders, you also mix drinks! (at least, I think that was the idea!)

The randomly drawn prompt cards were the discipline “Music”, the equipment “Blender”, and the materials “Moldable Plastics.” The teams had 20 minutes to ideate a product or business that included all three of the randomly-drawn prompts, and then five minutes each to pitch their ideas to the judges. The other teams were The Demodogs, including Linda Opella (Irving Public Library) and Gretchen Trkay (UT Arlington Libraries), and The Hawkins Lab Shady Scientists, including Britt Lariviere and Aaron Boyle (both UTA Libraries).

The Pop Culture Homages were the winners of both the official prize trophy, awarded by the judges unanimously, and the audience choice award medal.

POW! was inspired by the Iron Chef Battles held in the Technology Test Kitchen during the Online Learning Consortium: Accelerate conference in November, 2016. That series pitted teams of educators against one another in a fast-paced competition to propose solutions to pressing problems in online education. Teams were given a problem prompt, 15 minutes to ideate solutions, and a few minutes each to pitch their solutions to a panel of judges. The first four sessions were preliminary rounds and the fifth was the final round where winners from the preliminaries faced off against each other. Each of these sessions lasted about 45 minutes (UTA Libraries’ events last an hour, and we only do three preliminary rounds). The series was aptly titled the Iron Chef Battles due to their resemblance to the popular cooking contest series. UTA Libraries was given permission by Angela Gunder (University of AZ), chair of the group that put on the event, to adapt the game to our use.

We have been producing our own version of this game-show style pitch contest at UTA Libraries since spring 2017, and we were invited to put on a demonstration in the Innovation Lab at the TLA Annual Conference. Our hope was to demonstrate how this event can be put on at your own library, public, school, or academic. The game is versatile and customizable for any age group or library environment. You can watch the video of POW! at TLA on our YouTube channel, and you can contact Martin Wallace if you would like more details about organizing an event of your own. You can download the handout from TLA.

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