Students may have noticed the new addition to Reamer Campus Center while on their way to class. The new gumball machine, provided by Jonny Covey ’17, is more than just a way to sate your sweet tooth.
Covey is running a social experiment — he’s asking people to buy a gumball and think about ethics and he’s giving his profits to the Kenney Community Center.
The gumball machine is handpainted by Covey with a design and logo reading, “Chew for Thought,” in the hopes that it will catch the attention of many of his peers and any other person who travels by.
He describes it as, “A comical experience. People aren’t just buying a gumball, but they are thinking about it. Inside the gumball machine is a weekly question that I am hoping will create a cool learning experience to enhance and impact campus culture, almost like an intervention.”
The weekly question will be about the topics of ethics and morality. The purpose of the question, and the experiment, is to throw something out into the Union community that is different and outside the normal scope of the school’s environment.
Covey plans on asking many different questions to catalyze ethical thought and discussion among students.
Covey felt this would be a good way to learn outside the classroom and test a social experiment within our college community.
Covey stated he wanted to “spark more intellectual thought with this idea and, after doing a lot of self reflecting, I came up with the idea of the gumball machine.”
Covey chose the gumball machine because he felt, “the act of buying a gumball is priceless. Watching it spin to the bottom for your prize is like bringing a childhood memory back and I love gumball machines.”
The gumball machine was bought used with Covey’s own money, and it will become charitable after he earns his investment back — all the profits from the gumball machine will go to the Kenney Community Center to promote independent learning.
Covey feels, “the best turnout would be creating a venue through which money is constantly received and used to make tangible differences. This money would go to buying a product to enhance the children at the Kenney Center’s learning.”
In order for the gumball machine to earn $200, Covey needs to sell an entire case of gumballs, with each case containing 850 gumballs. In the first five days of the gumball machine being located in Reamer, Covey has already sold 100.
Covey says, “I’ve had a lot of support through this process, which I have been working on since mid-February. Many professors, friends and brothers in my fraternity have helped me reach my goal of having this in Reamer. I would say Professor Lorraine Cox helped me the most through this whole process. The idea was sparked during a project for her class, ‘Environmentalism in Contemporary Art.’ Her support in crushing the typical box way of thinking and pushing me really helped me bring this idea to life.”
The gumball machine hasn’t been a cakewalk for Covey, though. He stated, “My biggest challenge is balancing my schoolwork, extracurriculars and this project, which I treat as just as important as my schoolwork. I feel the experiment is important in shaping my mind and gaining experience in the real world, and the challenge of balancing all of my obligations is well worth it. It will give me benefits, such as communicating effectively.”