A BLOCK-buster Inspiration by Nathaniel

No stranger to what we do at Vivistop, Nathaniel can often be found helping the crew out when we need extra hands! This proactiveness led him to plan and execute an international Lego competition during circuit breaker last year, the first of its kind!

Meet Nathaniel!

A familiar face around Vivistop, we’re sure most of our crew and members know who Nathaniel is! With a keen interest in making, Nathaniel was drawn to join Vivita after attending a trial session in 2019, where he helped a member work on a skateboard and also got to try out the 3D printers and other cool machines around. While he had previously attended workshops elsewhere to learn about and use similar machines, he really appreciated the flexibility and space to explore that Vivita offered, and has since become a well-loved presence at the Stop!

In his free time, Nathaniel particularly enjoys building things, be it physical objects like Lego and 3D crafts, or working on online projects like making websites or developing games. Beyond just personal projects, he also has been a part of other events such as the Roblox Game Development Bootcamp and Competition with YouTuber MaxMello just last year, where he helped to host the opening ceremony.

Nathaniel (first row, second from right) with YouTuber MaxMello!

How a spontaneous idea grew into an unforgettable experience

During Circuit Breaker last year, we shifted all our activities online since Vivistop had to close temporarily. Knowing Nathaniel’s interest in helping to run activities, our Crew member Su Yuen chatted with him during this time to brainstorm workshop ideas together for all the members that had to spend the school holidays at home. As an avid Lego enthusiast, Nathaniel has many of them scattered around his room and the inspiration to plan something Lego-related actually struck him out of the blue when he casually glanced at them during a conversation! No idea is too spontaneous or impossible for us, so we gladly took him up on this suggestion and kick-started what would soon become a highly memorable experience for not just crew and members in Singapore, but overseas as well.

Together with our crew members, Abel, Puspita and Su Yuen, Nathaniel fleshed out the idea of an online Lego competition to be held over Zoom due to the ongoing pandemic. While the original plan was to keep the event just for Vivita Singapore members, we suggested opening it up to members from other countries as well since it was fully online anyway. Nathaniel knew that turning the competition international would definitely require much more planning and coordination, but he was really excited about the opportunity to get more people on board and involve creative minds from all over the world, so he bravely accepted the challenge.

Participants from many different Vivistops coming together!

Over the course of 4 weeks, a total of 51 participants from different Vivistops around the world came together, showing how wildly popular this event was! We were all pleasantly surprised by the turnout and how excited everyone was to be a part of what started from a spontaneous idea and then evolved into a hit through Nathaniel’s hard work and planning. The participants tackled a series of challenges created by Nathaniel and his friends that were aimed at allowing everyone to be as creative and wacky as possible. After each session, participants uploaded their videos introducing their masterpiece onto a platform called Flipgrid and then voted for their favorites.

A snapshot of how Flipgrid works!

Using Flipgrid was actually Nathaniel’s own idea after he noticed his teacher using it for lessons and wanted to try it out for his competition too! While the crew didn’t have much experience with it either, we’re always excited to learn and explore alongside our members, so we supported its incorporation into the programme. As it was a fairly new platform, many ran into technical difficulties while recording or uploading their videos. When this happened, Nathaniel calmly delegated the available Crew members into breakout rooms to help resolve these issues, while also tackling other difficulties himself in the main session.

Technical problems, glitches and bugs are pretty much part and parcel of every online session, that’s something we’re super familiar with! So we were glad to see that Nathaniel didn’t get discouraged or worried when these hiccups cropped up, and instead knew to work quickly with us to overcome them.

Another unexpected challenge we faced was in the voting process, when it became clear that manually tallying the votes in Flipgrid’s comments section was too labour-intensive. Nathaniel then suggested we shift to Google Forms instead, which made collating the votes much easier. While the entire experience of using Flipgrid was not as smooth-sailing as we had hoped, it was still a valuable learning point, and we’re now one step closer to becoming more familiar with it for future use!

We’re strong believers in the importance of experimentation and exploration, so kudos to Nathaniel for pitching this idea to us, sticking through with it despite the occasional technical hitches, and even brainstorming alternatives on the spot when things were a little more difficult than anticipated. His perseverance really helped to create this fun and unforgettable chance for everyone to flex their innovative muscles and learn from one another, even across borders! Beyond creativity and Lego-building, we’re sure Nathaniel also learned a lot about what goes into putting an idea into action and has definitely taken away many important lessons about dealing with obstacles and the unexpected.

Sowing the Seeds of Inspiration for Future Initiatives

With the experience from this Lego competition, Nathaniel now has his sights on initiating even more of such events, especially since he’s had the chance to hone his planning skills and confidence. In fact, what’s even more amazing is that at the end of his competition, the participants discussed some ideas for future workshops and some even became reality, such as an International Chess Tournament hosted by Raine from Vivistop Baguio! It’s really incredible to see our members’ own ideas spark imagination and creativity in others, and we’re glad to know Nathaniel’s competition really ignited inspiration for Vivinauts all around the world.

When asked if he had any advice for those who might want to run their own competitions, he simply advised to “just try” and “don’t be discouraged when you fail or something goes wrong, just keep going”! Nathaniel’s story certainly serves as an example of how ideas can grow into something unprecedentedly awesome when our members are given the space to explore and learn, and we can’t wait to see what else he has in store for us.