ReinventED 24 Hour Challenge


On October 9–10 in Charlottesville, VA, ReinventED Lab convened a sample of college students and expert coaches to host the ReinventED 24 Hour Challenge. The Challenge was generously sponsored by a partnership between 4.0 Schools and NBCUniversal Open Possibilities.

How students feel when they are asked “What do you want to do with your life?”

The Challenge:

The classic, ubiquitous, and existential crisis we have all faced at one time or another: “What the heck am I going to do with my life?”

The Approach:

The Challenge gave participants the dedicated space, the creative process, and the expert coaching to approach this daunting question through innovation.

Lead Coach, Spencer Ingram

The Coaches:

Spencer Ingram, Chief Ruckus Maker at The Bureau

Sierra Cook, Facilitator at The Bureau

Michael Crawford, Chief Academic Officer at The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative

Joe Belsterling, Founder and CEO at Major Clarity

Michelle Ball, Assistant Director at U.Va. Career Center

Kimberly Link, Associate Director at U.Va. Internship Center

Michelle Ball prepares to present U.Va.’s Career Communities

The Agenda:

Friday (10/9)

  1. We started off with stories and examples — participants heard brief presentations from coaches doing cool things around career innovation.
  2. Then participants put their brains together to discuss during 4 breakout “unconference” sessions.
  3. Lastly, participants learned from others during our “gallery walk,” in which they viewed fellow participants’ problem statements and gave post-it note and whiteboard feedback.
  4. Lastly, participants learned from others during our “gallery walk,” in which they viewed fellow participants’ problem statements and gave post-it note feedback.
Amy McMillen pitches her problem statement

Saturday (10/10)

  1. The day began with participants pitching the problem statement they wanted to work on for the day, and sharing why they thought it was a good problem to tackle.
  2. Participants then began to learn more about their problem — digging deeper as coaches prompted participants with targeted inquiry.
  3. Next, participants spitballed approaches to solving their problem. Coaches provided one-to-one support on a rotating basis as participants began to turn their problem statements into projects using a Duncker Diagram.
  4. Problem statements in mind, participants were then required to make something, tapping into their innovative energy in order to design and create a proof-of-concept solution to their problem.
  5. Finally, participants pitched what they worked on — explaining their process, their solution, and what it would take to carry their project forward, all in 3 minutes.

The Tools:

Joe Belsterling leads an unconference session on tips for young entrepreneurs


A set of organic breakout sessions with minimal structure and maximum peer-to-peer learning.

Madlib Problem Statement:

___________________ needs a way to _________________________ because _________________________.

Why/Tell Me More leads to annotated problem statements

Why/Tell Me More:

Coaches posed targeted inquiry to participants on Saturday morning, framing their feedback as one of two inquiries: either “Why __________________?” or “Tell me more about _____________.”

Duncker Diagram:

Diagram for identifying two possible pathways for innovation — either moving from current state (e.g. spread too thin) to desired state (e.g. prioritizing/focus) OR making the current state okay. Read more.


Spencer led a session on channeling solutions into bite-sized prototypes (e.g. “projectizing”), pushing all participants to make something before 5 PM.

The Outcomes:

With sixty participants attending Friday night’s unconference and seven stellar projects (see below) emerging from Saturday’s project day, the 24 Hour Challenge proved to be a big success.

Jim Clarke (left), Jacob Hardin and Jared Jones (middle), Amy McMillen (right)
Abu Mondol and Hanbin Cho (left), Keaton Wadzinski (right)
Patrick Talamantes and Elliot Roth (left), Sam Nelson (right)

Metacurriculum: Jim Clarke

Tying the innovation processes of the startup world to the values and philosophies of the liberal arts, Jim proposed a “Metacurriculum” for students to actively ask the question “What is school for?” Jim wrote an article to make the argument for this “Metacurriculum” and what it could mean for liberal arts students unsure of their post-graduation plans. Jim is a Fourth Year Physics major who also loves the liberal arts.

Interest to Career Matching: Jacob Hardin and Jared Jones

Jacob and Jared had a wide array of interests, and didn’t know how to figure out the best majors and careers for them. So they created a paper prototype of a interest matching website that would connect a students’ self-identified interests to the appropriate major and career options. Jacob is a Second Year Art History major and Jared is a Second Year double major in English and Psychology.

Clarity Cards: Amy McMillen

Throughout the course of the 24 Hour Challenge, Amy shifted gears in how she is approaching her post-graduation plans. Amy is interested in sustainability, education, engineering, fashion, women’s empowerment, and more, and was unsure which field would be the best fit for her. Through Clarity Cards, Amy created a card deck that reframes the question of “What am I going to do after I graduate” to “What values do I want to focus on in my career” using flashcards with a value on one side and an example on the other. Amy is a Second Year majoring in an interdisciplinary Engineering program.

Alumni Mentoring Social Network: Hanbin Cho and Abu Mondol

Hanbin and Abu likely whiteboarded for hours as they hacked the question of alumni engagement. They designed a peer-to-peer social network for University alumni and current students to interact with one another by offering and requesting mentorship. Their presentation included a mockup of the site and its core features. Hanbin is a Fourth Year Computer Engineering Major and Abu is a graduate student in Computer Science.

Taking ReinventED Lab Full-time: Keaton Wadzinski

In addition to hosting the ReinventED 24 Hour Challenge, Keaton Wadzinski used the Challenge to put some time and serious thought into how ReinventED Lab could be his full-time career. Thanks to the advising of a few peers, coaches, and local entrepreneurs, Keaton walked away from the 24 Hour Challenge with a five step plan on a single post-it note for how he can take ReinventED Lab full-time. Keaton is a Third Year Youth and Social Innovation major.

Github for Curriculum: Patrick Talamantes and Elliot Roth

Patrick wants to teach after graduation, and recognizes the numerous challenges teachers face regularly in implementing best teaching practices. Patrick and Elliot designed an open source system that would allow Patrick and fellow teachers to innovate within existing frameworks of required curricula. Patrick is a Second Year Youth and Social Innovation major and Elliot is a Biomedical Engineering major from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Researching Experiential Learning: Sam Nelson

Understanding the need for real world learning within academic learning experiences, Sam delved into deep research identifying state of the art practices in experiential learning. The philosophy of “learn by doing” drove this project. Sam did extensive research online and drafted an outline for an article recapping his findings. Sam is a graduate student at the Darden School of Business.

Additional Media Coverage:

“At UVa, taking a creative approach to figuring out post-college plans” in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress.

“Entrepreneurial mindsets deployed: ReinventED Lab and The Bureau team up to challenge minds and grow community” in the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative Blog.

This event made possible by:

Media courtesy The Pioneer