What is the Media Sandbox? For students, it’s a way to study media creatively

What is the Media Sandbox? For students, it’s a way to study media creatively

With so many people wanting to write for a magazine or direct their own films, media is becoming a competitive field. However, a relatively new program called Media Sandbox in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences is designed to help students compete with the best of the best.

“It’s a hard world to get a job in, and media jobs are even harder to get because they are so popular and desirous,” said David Wheeler, the new Director of the Media Sandbox.

Created in 2011, the Media Sandbox is a four-year program that teaches students about integrated media arts. The program embraces four disciplines: advertising, journalism, cinematic arts, and game development. It is geared towards freshman and sophomores.

Students play with lights at a Media Sandbox photography workshop

But how do you know you’re in the Sandbox? If you are a student in advertising, journalism or media and information, you are eligible to take Sandbox classes. These classes include CAS 110, 111 and 112, as well as CAS 201-208.

The Media Sandbox encourages students to be creative while also teaches the fundamentals of different software that will be used in the future. As a student moves up in the program, most classes become projects based on his or her selected major that are intended to mimic industry work.

Senior Josh Drzewicki said that said that a lot of what he has learned is based around the programs that are used to create this high-caliber material.

“I have learned many professional programs that are used out in the real world such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and even some Dreamweaver,” Drzewicki said.

The intention of the Media Sandbox is to provide these integrated courses so that students get hands-on work early on, which is an idea unique to Michigan State.

“We require all of our students to buy a Mac laptop. On the other hand, we don’t require books and students get to use very sophisticated technology which we provide,” said Professor Bob Albers.

Beyond technology, the only skill required for Media Sandbox students is passion.

“I don’t believe I have special genes that make me creative, it is just a passion I quickly realized when I took my first creative class,” Drzewicki said.

CAS 112: Story, Sound and Motion, taught by Albers, is one of three introductory Sandbox classes. The story part of the class is about narratives, techniques and theory, while the sound portion is about how to gather sound, manipulate it, and use it properly. Lastly, the motion part is about editing the moving image.

“Everyone has to tell stories at some point in their career; they are just conveyed in different ways such as film, writing, or advertising,” said Albers.

Advertising senior Kaitlyn Filipp said that one of the greatest driving forces in the Media Sandbox is the way the program keeps up with the latest trends.

“Communication and media are taking the world by storm,” she said. “There are so many different ways that information can be shared, so having a program that keeps up with that is extremely helpful.”

One of the benefits of the Media Sandbox program is students get to work with twenty experienced professors, many of whom are internationally recognized or have won numerous awards. For example, graphics editor in residence Karl Gude was the graphics editor of Newsweek for ten years before coming to Michigan State.

“Every professor I have worked with has taught me so much about the changing world of media, how I can get involved and how I can even be one step ahead,” Drzewicki said.

Albers said Media Sandbox is much more than taking a few innovative classes. He said the program is also focused on becoming a creative community in which students and faculty come together and work as a team, despite being from different disciplines.

“We’re trying to create this boiling pot of creativity,” said Albers. “The more we develop the Sandbox and make people aware of it, the more people will realize what a great thing it is.”

There are many student organizations within the Sandbox. One of these is a special group of students known as the Media Sandbox Street Team. With guidance from professors, the Street Team creates their own projects using knowledge learned from the program.

“At the beginning of the year, we had people apply to be street team leaders and ended up choosing them based on their skills, passion and portfolio,” said advertising senior Shelby Robinson, who is also the social media coordinator for the Sandbox.

The student-led group has recently gotten into doing more charity-based work.

On Nov. 17, the eleven members of the Street Team traveled to Detroit and spent the day helping out a nonprofit called the Georgia Street Community Collective, giving the organization a creative revamp in ways such as designing brochures or enhancing their website.

Robinson said the Street Team was currently developing a longer trip that also helps nonprofits called MSU Out of the Box.

“We will be road-tripping to the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas over spring break and helping out five different nonprofits along the way in Indianapolis, Nashville, Memphis, Dallas and Austin.” Robinson said.

Throughout the year the program also offers several competitions for monetary prizes. Teams of students can currently enter in the Media Sandbox Creative Challenge where they have to compile research and then create a six page magazine layout and a two minute video.

Wheeler said the theme this year is 60/50, since is the 60th year anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education case and the 50th anniversary of the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech by Martin Luther King Jr.

The actual display and exposition of work will happen at the Lansing Center in April where the judging will also take place.

Although Media Sandbox is relatively new, much is being done to make sure people know about the program. The idea is that in the next couple of years it will be recognized nation-wide.

“Everyone that is part of Media Sandbox is really passionate about its potential and I think that is the most important way to attract students,” said Filipp.

To find out more information, talk to an academic advisor or visit the Media Sandbox website.

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UAB Craft Night lets students create and de-stress

UAB Craft Night lets students create and de-stress

As the clock strikes 7pm on Nov. 6, people excitedly rush in through the doors. It is that night of the week again: craft night. This activity is one of the University Activities Board (UAB) hosted activity nights that draws more than 50 people each.


Photo credit: Devan Wetzel

Every week in Room 50 at the Union, the UAB puts together a night where students and other East Lansing residents can make a fun and easy craft. The event is typically held on Wednesdays from 7-9:30 p.m. The event is popular one—a long line begins to form outside the room 30 minutes prior to the event, and supplies tend to run out quickly.

All tools necessary to make the crafts are already provided for, and sometimes food, prizes and UAB swag are also featured. The UAB created this weekly event as a simple way to get out of the dorms and try something new.

Sarah Coleman, a junior MSU student, said that it is important to take breaks while in college, and that these are events are also a good way to meet people in a more intimate setting.

“Going to the craft sessions are a good way to make the campus feel smaller, and a good way to take a break from studying,” said Coleman.

Although some may think otherwise, the UAB hosted events are not just for women—many men attend them too.

Sophomore Vachee Yang came for the first time and was shocked by how many people showed up. He said the craft night exceeded his expectations.

“Anyone can be crafty; creativity comes from the mind. Guy or girl it does not matter, everyone is coming to have a good time,” said Yang.

Families from the local area have also been spotted at these weekly events as well.

Wasin Ahmed brought his two children to the Union for the first time after getting an email from the UAB. Ahmed said that the art nights are a great way for him to spend time with his kids in a creative setting.

One craft featured making travel mugs. Once the doors opened up to the public, people chose their tools and went to work on their crafts.


Photo credit: Devan Wetzel

There was a variety of patterned paper and other supplies such as glitter, crinkle cut scissors and ribbon. Participants could decorate the paper as they pleased, and then could place the paper inside the glass portion of the travel mug to be displayed.

A lot of time and effort goes in to the making of these craft sessions. The art committee meets every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. to go over planning — they get craft ideas from websites such as Pinterest or Craftgawker, or using collaborative brainstorming. Each night features a craft that is easy to make such as canvas boards, chalkboards or tie-dye t-shirts.

“We have a theme for quality crafts; we are trying to bring in people with crafts that they cannot just make at home,” said freshman UAB member Abi Whitford.

Within the UAB there are 11 student directors, 7 different committees and over 50 members.

Coleman is serving as the Director of Arts for her first time. Her job includes a lot of important duties to ensure the craft nights go smoothly.

“Being the director, I have meetings three times a week, and do a lot of the behind the scenes work such as setting up the room or going out and buying the supplies from stores,” Coleman said.

Because the activity nights are free, fundraising plays an important part in buying the supplies for them. The majority of the art committee’s money comes from the spring and holiday craft shows they have every year.


Photo credit: Devan Wetzel

Overall, students seem happy to relieve some stress and create something fun.

“I like these craft nights because they give us a way to express ourselves in a non-destructive way, and they give us a chance to hang out with other people that is not stressful,” said freshman Aubrey Stechschulte.

Check out the UAB on Facebook at or on their website for more information about craft nights or about getting involved with the program.

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MSU Greek life helps make Halloween safer for East Lansing families

MSU Greek life helps make Halloween safer for East Lansing families

There was something different about East Lansing on Oct. 24. A big event was taking place, but it was not the leaves changing colors or the night skies appearing earlier

It was Halloween—a little bit early and a little bit safer. Every year the Greek community at Michigan State University puts on an event called Safe Halloween, and it attracts hundreds of families from the East Lansing area.

“Safe Halloween is an event that is intended to give the families of East Lansing and the surrounding communities, especially younger children, a safe and fun environment to participate in Halloween activities, like trick-or-treating,” said Alex Barone, the Vice President of External Relations on the Interfraternity Council.

“East Lansing is a great city for college-aged students to live in, but we also recognize that there are many young families in the area,” Barone said.

The frat and sorority houses all along M.A.C were transformed into different activity stations, such as face painting, beanbag races, food vendors and moon bouncers. There was even a DJ who came to play spooky music. The local fire and police departments also made appearances.

Michael Mansour, owner and manager of Spartan Spirits Liquor, said he heard about Safe Halloween through the East Lansing Business Association three years ago, and has been coming with his family ever since.

“The event has been nothing but a positive experience for the kids; it is a nice gesture made by the students, and our family always likes to support what the students are doing,” Mansour said.

A lot of effort went in to the preparation of Safe Halloween — whether it was advertising or fundraising, sorority and fraternity members had been continuously working since the beginning of the school year. Members from each sorority and fraternity applied to be on different planning committees so that all of the 45 Greek houses were represented.

Advertising played a big role in spreading the word about Safe Halloween. Committees helped promote the event, such as making t-shirts and flyers, and going to different schools to talk to students about the event. Fundraising was also crucial in making the event occur. Greek Life committee members went to local businesses asking for monetary and item donations.

In addition to businesses volunteering, other student groups on campus worked at the event too. A cappella group Ladies First took a few hours out of their day to serenade families with Halloween music.

Every member of the Greek Life system was encouraged to get involved with Safe Halloween. Members had the choice to work at the event or do the planning prior to the event.

Kelly Cullen, a freshman member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority said she had a great first experience being involved with the event.

“It was a lot of fun working with the other fraternities and sororities, and it was also a nice way to bond with everyone,” Cullen said.

This event is not only a great learning experience for Greek Life members, but is also a great showcasing event for the Greek community.

Sharon Anderson, a house mom for the sorority Chi Omega since 2008, said she is a firm believer in this.
“Safe Halloween is a chance to promote Greek Life in a positive way,” Anderson said. “Having this event shows that the Greek system can do nice things for others.”

Photos by Bretlyn Royce

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Getting involved: find where you fit at MSU

Getting involved: find where you fit at MSU

With 532 buildings, 5,200 acres of land, and more than 48,000 students on campus, it is no wonder newcomers to Michigan State University might be overwhelmed when arriving in late August.

However, despite its grand size, Michigan State University has a wide range of niche student organizations to engage Spartans.

The process of seeking out clubs to join starts with the highly anticipated event: Sparticipation. This is a once a year experience gathers 650 registered clubs on Munn Field (or this year, the Breslin Center) to promote their groups.

There are a variety of clubs to choose from – some focused on academics, others on environmental issues, and many in between. Each group gains a significant amount of student interest, whether it be for fun or to further career interests.

Underwater Hockey

The Underwater Hockey Club is a group designed for fun.

“Previous swimming experience is not necessary; players have the option of wearing fins to help swim around faster,” said President Colleen Anthony. “Some of the best members did not swim before they joined the team.”


The underwater hockey team (photo via their Facebook page)

Underwater Hockey is played with two teams each consisting of six players on the bottom of pool floors ranging six-eight feet deep. The players wear water polo caps, a mask, a snorkel, protective gloves, a stick (which is about one foot long), and fins. Members must maneuver through the opposing team and get the puck into the goal.

Unlike Ice Hockey, there are no goalies. Teams usually have a 3-3 formation with three forwards and three backs. There is no main coach; however, the older, more experienced players teach newcomers how to play.

“The most challenging aspect of the sport is learning to use the snorkel, holding your breath, and learning puck and stick skills,” said Anthony.

Once in the club, members can choose if they want to play on an intramural team or the travel team. The competitive team is nationally recognized – they placed second, first and third in the past 3 years for their division in the national tournament.

The group meets every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 7:30-9:30pm at the IM Circle Pool.

Turf Grass Management

For those more interested in studying the environment, Michigan State offers a Turf Grass Club.

Unbeknownst to most, Michigan State offer a Turf Grass Management program, which focuses on managing and caring for grass—usually golf courses, athletic fields and home lawns.

This student organization was created to provide extracurricular opportunities for turf students as well as a friendlier setting for professional networking. At meetings, members get to know one another and discuss activities the group would like to participate in.

“I joined to get to know others, to network with my classmates, to take advantage of a great tool for advancing myself in the industry, and to have fun,” said club president John Parvin.

Activities of Turf Grass Club include educational golf outings, participation in the Turf Bowl at the Golf Industry Show (GIS), participation in the Homecoming Parade, and miniature golf outings.

The Turf Bowl is one of the bigger events the club attends.

During the turf bowl, the MSU Turf Grass Club competes with other universities via a written exam.

“We stand out from other clubs because we have a unique interest in grass that brings our group together,” said Parvin.

The club meets every Tuesday and Thursday at 3:45pm in Room A155 of the Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences Building. Students who are in the Turf Grass Management program are strongly encouraged to join, but anyone is allowed to come to the meetings.

Beardsmen of MSU

If you are looking for another laid-back and fun way to spend your weekdays then you should check out the Beardsmen of MSU.


Photo via their Facebook page

“I created the club last year as a way to bring people together who enjoy facial hair; bearded or shaved, man or woman; all are welcome,” said club president Mick Haley.

At meetings, members discuss ideas on how to improve the group, establish leadership position, and plan future events. Locations rotate depending on where the club wants to grab a bite to eat.

Beardsmen members engage in a variety of activities – whether it is volunteer work or planned get-togethers. Last year, the group passed out fake mustaches at Wells Hall while complementing those with facial hair

The club has also raised funds for the American Cancer Society, participated in “No Shave November” and organized beard competitions.

For more information, find them on Facebook. Updates are posted daily as to when and where the club meets.

Assassin’s Club

The MSU Assassin’s club gives Spartans a chance to embrace their inner child.

This group meets at the Pines, north of Munn Field, to play games with NERF style weapons.

“The group was formed to be a fun, social way to get outside and play, which is an important thing for people to do,” said club president Tristan Worthington.

Anyone may join and there are no commitments or long meetings to sit through.    Members dive right into games at club meetings.

The Assassins Club plays a variety of games with NERF style weaponry such as capture the flag or games created specifically for the club.

“By joining this group, you have a great opportunity to relieve stress and take your mind off the craziness of college life,” said Worthington.

One of the biggest events the group trains for and participates in is the campus-wide Human vs. Zombies event during spring semester.

In this event, a few people are designated as zombies and everyone else are humans – zombies try to tag the humans, while humans are allowed to shoot zombies with NERF weaponry which “stuns” them long enough so that the humans can escape.

If you are interested in joining, go on their Facebook for information on meetings and more.

Getting Involved

Although Michigan State University is among the top ten largest universities in the nation, getting involved can help make the campus seem smaller.

If you weren’t able to attend Sparticipation this past August, you can still contact the club advisors by logging on to the Student Life Website.

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