Large group of students competing in the Accounting Challenge

January 31, 2024

Hundreds of students to compete in SIU’s Accounting Challenge Feb. 2

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Hundreds of high school and community college students from throughout the region will be converging upon Southern Illinois University Carbondale on Friday, Feb. 2, to compete for scholarships, trophies and bragging rights during the 26th annual Accounting Challenge.

Sponsored by the School of Accountancy in SIU’s College of Business and Analytics, and State Farm, the event incorporates both individual and team competitions. The participants first complete accounting tests on their own and then engage in fun, collaborative challenges as groups.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to cover the 2024 Accounting Challenge team competition on Feb. 2 in the Student Center Ballrooms and adjacent Corker Lounge. The best times to secure engaging video, photographs and interviews are during:

  • The welcome and overview sessions with some students arriving beginning at 8 a.m. and most coming between 8:30 and 9:15 a.m. They will be mingling and chatting during the check-in and breakfast.
  • The team building competition as students participate in hands-on experiential learning challenges, 10:20-11:50 a.m.
  • The SIU student panel as Salukis answer questions and chat with the visiting high school and community college students, 11:50 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.
  • The awards ceremony at 1 p.m.

For more information, contact Nija Harvey at or 618-453-1400. In case of inclement weather, the challenge will be rescheduled for March 8.

Two-phase contest

There are currently about 300 students from 22 schools registered for the challenge with some competing for the very first time and coming from as far as 3 hours away. The high school and community college participants will begin the day by completing written tests about 9:30 a.m., assessing their accounting knowledge and skills. The students who earn the highest score in accounting I or advanced accounting divisions will receive certificates and scholarships worth up to $500 if they attend SIU and major in accounting.

Then, at 10:20 a.m., the team challenge begins. That’s when things really get exciting. The participants will work in small groups to put their problem-solving skills to the test to solve a unique secret challenge, revealed just before they begin. The challenge is devised by Larry Busch, an emeritus SIU School of Art and Design faculty member.

Creativity rewarded

The challenges are a test of creativity, ingenuity and problem-solving skills, and they vary widely from year to year. One year, participants had to use a few simple supplies to create a container that would safely cradle an egg dropped from the second story of a building to keep it from breaking and another year involved a blindfolded money scoop. Another challenge featured a unique human version of the popular Hungry, Hungry Hippos game, and there have also been tests involving catapults, bridges, airplanes and assorted other brain-benders.

The winning teams will earn trophies for each team member and for their school; participants will all receive commemorative T-shirts.

SIU students, faculty and staff work together to create the unique, fun experience for the visiting students. State Farm provided a grant to help cover costs of this year’s event, which moves to March 8 in the event of inclement weather.

The day also features a Kahoot! video game and a Saluki student panel, giving participants a chance to chat with current SIU students and find out more about life on campus.