Students snag prizes from ping pong balls before finals

Minnesota State  students are counting down the year’s remaining days and wrapping up semester-long learning with final exams. The high stakes nature of finals week can cause stress on students and faculty, and the CSU Mall Fest gave them the opportunity to forget their stresses for a few hours and win freebies.

The Student Events Team hosted “Thousand Ways to Win” on the campus mall Wednesday afternoon. Students gathered outside under an aerial lift where the mascot, Stomper the Maverick, dropped 1,000 colored ping pong balls as students fought to catch as many as they could to win prizes.

Other activities included a petting zoo, food truck and a plate-smashing station.

While she prepares for an Urban and Regional Studies design presentation, third-year Environmental Science student Heather Mullenbach attended the event and found it to be a good stress-relieving activity.

“I think it’s awesome,” Mullenbach said. “I got free lunch, I got to smash a plate after I wrote on it and now I’m getting prizes. It’s also a really nice day for it, too.”

Fellow Environmental Sciences student Rachel Fischer said she has four final exams as well as presentations, and both took advantage of the opportunity to win prizes.

Cheyenne Kruse, a ceramics student, also attended and caught multiple blue ping pong balls before heading back to the ceramics studio to continue preparing for her art project informal reviews. 

Kruse said she enjoyed the plate smashing, although she “didn’t really have anything to be angry about,” and partook in the cathartic game by writing on the ceramic plates and throwing them against the enclosed wall.

The Student Events Team had students write “emotions, stressors or anything else they want to let go of” on the plates before tossing in a “cathartic release,” according to the event description on their calendar.

“I only got five, but it was fun catching all the balls,” Kruse said.

The full itinerary for the event included a petting zoo with a miniature horse, donkey, goats, rabbits and a llama, a visit from Aaron “Heatbox” Heaton (also known as The One-Man Entertainment System) who performed live music, free hot dogs and Pepsi and a mini golf game led by sports management students, where students could also win prizes. 

CSU Mall Fest is the final event on the Student Events Team event calendar for April. The student-led organization hosts a variety of events at MSU including concerts, athletic challenges and more games like Thousand Ways to Win.

Finals week at MSU begins May 1.

Header photo: Students had the opportunity to win multiple prizes that rained down from a sea of ping pong balls Wednesday at the CSU mall. (Phedias Pierides/The Reporter)

Write to Carly Bahr at

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