Student Spotlight

What can you do with plastic soda can rings? Ed.D. students search for solutions

September 04, 2018 by Brandman University
Gina Albertini-Bennett and Marilou Ryder hold up the plastic rings as the room full of Zetas (the collective name of students who began the Ed.D. program in fall 2017) react.

The plastic rings that hold soda cans and other beverages together will get new uses thanks to the Brandman University Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program’s “hot teams.

Value This
 Students in their second year of the Brandman University Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership program consider how to make use of the plastic rings.

Each year, students in the doctoral program are put into small teams and asked to transform an ordinary object into one that has a new social, environmental or monetary value. Previous years have had students in the second year of the program converting Amazon boxes, shrink wrap donated by Golden State Foods and washcloths into everything from lily pads, quilts for homeless veterans and cell phone holders and stuffed bears.

The Value This! Tournament, adapted from Stanford’s Global Innovation Tournament, gives the teams of students a chance to practice entrepreneurship, develop teamwork, exercise creativity and innovation and provide something of value back to the world, said event organizer Marilou Ryder, Ed.D., an associate professor in Brandman University School of Education.

The students have eight weeks to come up with a project, make it work and create a video that explains how they changed the plastic rings and added value.

Irvine Hot Team
A group of students from an Irvine Hot Team holds up the rings. 

“Don’t stop at the first idea,” urged Ryder. “Come up with a 100.”

She also urged the students to think about what value they want to add or problem they want to help solve before thinking about the rings.

That’s easier said than done when handed plastic rings. Tables of teams immediately started manipulating them into a variety of shapes, searched the internet for ideas and stared quizzically at the rings while passing them back and forth.

Gina Alberti-BennetGina Albertini-Bennett, a recent Ed.D. grad from Brandman and now a business development associate for the university, helped announce the plastic ring challenge. She recalled that her team came in second two years ago, but even so transforming Amazon boxes into “Tabby” bears for police officers to give away to distressed children taught her and the team how to both work together and make a difference in the lives of children.

She added that her team received considerable media attention.

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