In March 2024, Beyond Blocks team Bricks ‘n’ Biscuits took part in the at the FIRST LEGO League regional competition in Epsom.

This years innovation challenge was to find a way of using technology to bring your hobby to a new audience. Our team discussed their hobbies and made a Venn diagram to demonstrate the diversity of their interests (given they’re 3 boys / a girl and all at different schools). This identified common interests in Minecraft, Camping/Guiding/Scouting, Coding, Robotics and Lego. They they considered different problems in all of those areas – introducing coding to the elderly but decided the appetite there was more to learn how to use computers to order food / keep in touch / “for life” rather than “for hobbies”, Minecraft – they discounted as its using tech for people already interested in tech so not really a new audience etc.. They concluded that guiding/scouting offered the most opportunity as there’s been a big drop in membership numbers post COVID, particularly in the teenage years… and if you don’t have teenagers staying in the organisation you have no leaders tomorrow…..

They interviewed a Brown OWL and documented. They reviewed financial accounts from both charities to quantify their feeling that membership was down and that both organisations are selling camp sites off because of their weakened income.

They researched the Sparks – building a VR world in cospaces, an augments reality space, considered props/costumes via scouts’ uniforms and traditions that help identify them to the public, and considered music given we always do campfire singing, so they looked at how garageband can be used to write music. For their project they then built a virtual camp in cospaces that demonstrated some of the fun things they do with guiding/scouting. They then considered the strengths (great graphics etc) vs weaknesses (how do you get people to use your camp). So did a rebuild in Minecraft (weaker graphics) where there’s an establish audience to use your world (and its easier to get multi players in same space)…. and hopefully tempt them to then try those things in the real world.

Their virtual camp gave the opportunity to still be part of the community to “lone guides / scouts” who are in hospital or immuno-supressed / have moved to an area where theres no local offer. It also provides a way of meeting people in the organisation internationally and exchanging customs.

It was an innovative way of using existing tech – inspired by the sparks…. but our focus was much more on “this is our process” than what the ultimate idea is.

A great achievement by the team and also a big shout out to coach Kathryn, who took the Coach of the Year at the same tournament!

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