Cocoa and community at CSE Carnival

Students in introductory CS courses came together for a fun-filled afternoon with sweet treats and games.
Two students, smiling, hold paper airplanes. Other student are milling and mingling in the background.
Two students test their creations in the paper airplane contest.

CSE brought some much-needed warmth to a chilly beginning to the semester with a student carnival featuring hot cocoa, baked goods, and fun games. Over 100 students participated, with many arriving early and lining up for free CS T-shirts given to the first 50 attendees. Students enrolled in EECS 183, 203, and 280 joined the festivities, which took place in the Pierpont Commons East Room on the afternoon of January 17. 

In addition to enjoying tasty treats, students were able to socialize while taking part in activities and games including a balloon tower building station, a paper airplane building and flying contest, and a U-M-themed photo selfie station.

Two students blow up pink and purple balloons lined up on a table.
A student quickly blows up balloons in a competition to build the tallest balloon tower in five minutes.

A big attraction was a CS-themed escape room organized by Dr. James Juett, which tasked students with solving a series of mathematical and computational problems involving rubber ducks and other props in order to “escape” to the next station.

Five students kneel and stand around a table. Two of them are working together to fill out a worksheet. There is a collection of about a dozen rubber ducks on the table.
Students work together to beat the clock and solve CS problems to unlock clues in the escape room. CSE lecturer Dr. Amir Kamil (left) attempts to assist.

A collaborative effort between CSE and the U-M Foundational Course Initiative (FCI), the carnival was designed to help students new to the undergraduate CS program make connections and build a social network. The event was organized by Sarah Snay (CSE Outreach and DEI Coordinator), Rachel Germaine (Renew CS), Dr. Amir Kamil (CSE Faculty), Elizabeth Mann Levesque (FCI), and Muneer Khalid (FCI).

“The intro CS classes are large and can be overwhelming, so it’s really important for students to have a network of peers they can navigate the major with,” said Snay. “We wanted to give students a space to have fun and form those kinds of meaningful connections.”