WeAre discusses Virtual Reality with teenagers
The week-long work experience offered to high school students, focusing on the topic of Virtual Reality, came to a close in September. As part of the Generation.Ruhr Initiative, twenty students engaged in an intense examination of the topics of VR for Education, as well as VR and Sustainability, before presenting their ideas to a specialist judging panel. WeAre was involved as one of the sponsoring businesses and was privileged to support the students throughout the week, gaining exciting experience and insights as a consequence.
Entrepreneurship week – students developing new business ideas
The Generation.Ruhr Initiative seeks to introduce young people in the Ruhr District to the world of entrepreneurship. The goal of those behind the initiative extends beyond helping the students to engage in entrepreneurial thinking; instead, it also aims to show the students that anyone can act in a creative, outcome-focused manner, and as such, it seeks to create greater equality of opportunity.
As we at WeAre pursue the same vision of overcoming barriers in the world, this project fits our company values very well. Meanwhile, it also enables us to support our region, as WeAre was originally founded in the Ruhr District and continues to maintain operations in Bochum and this project represents an opportunity to make young people enthusiastic about entrepreneurship and equip them with the tools they need to take initiative in their careers.
An eventful week with hundreds of ideas
The week began by giving the students of the Essen West Vocational College and the Municipal Maria Wächtler Grammar School lots of input as they got to grips with the topic in lectures and workshops and were given the opportunity to try Virtual Reality for themselves. Afterwards, the teams were given a choice between two overarching topics. One team addressed the question of what teaching could look like in schools if Virtual Reality were used, while the three other teams considered how Virtual Reality can contribute to more sustainable behavior in people, with the topic of “waste” at the forefront.
On the Tuesday, the students further developed their ideas and solutions in response to the challenges, focusing on the major opportunities as they did so. With the help of the latest creative techniques, thoughts were captured on flipcharts and Post-It notes, helping to clarify ideas and make them more accessible.
Building on this work, the students then drafted their first business model on the Wednesday. Target audiences needed to be defined and further building blocks of their presentation needed to be developed. Using the design thinking approach, they then began to build prototypes of their own ideas, using paper, cardboard, pipe cleaners and sticky tape to create true works of art.
On the Thursday, the four teams then began to work on their presentations. Finally, as the week drew to a close, the teams were tasked with presenting their projects to the specialist judging panel.
Pitching at the finale, with hearts beating faster
The morning of the final day began with a check-in session and reflections on the previous day. Breathing and mood exercises were undertaken to prepare for the presentations and get the students in the mood, while the participants made the final tweaks to their presentations and practiced their speeches over the course of the morning.
Then things got serious: each of the teams had seven minutes to present their pitches to parents, teachers and a specialist judging panel. It was impressive to see how much the students had managed to achieve in just a week.
“You just can’t compare this with anything we’ve ever done in school.”
– a student
The “#Kaiser” team was first to present, sharing their VR learning concept for teaching in schools with a special learning environment and a clever idea to keep the hardware in the school. The second team, 1. FC Loch im Schuh” (“Shoestring FC”) presented a VR serious game, in which the player builds a city and is then given the challenge of keeping it clean. “Team Unicorn” opted for an incentive system to keep the school clean, which even involved coming up with ideas for a new kind of augmented reality glasses. The integrated software rewards exemplary behaviors by releasing additional applications for users. The final team, known as “Die Anderen” (“The Others”) presented a virtual learning platform that could be used to train and select suitable candidates, for example by simulating the repair of complex machinery.
The final decision, followed by incredible feedback
As the saying goes, the event had “saved the best for last” with “Die Anderen” winning first prize – an Oculus Go virtual reality headset. However, as well as the prizes given to the winners, all participants were given a certificate for their participation as well as a VR box.
For us, however, the best thing was the positive feedback from the students, with comments such as “You just can’t compare this with anything we’ve ever done in school,” “That was really good,” “We had so many opportunities,” “Really got a kick out of that,” and “Would love to do it again” bringing the project to a wonderful conclusion.