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Nesta Longitude Explorer Prize Semi-Final Event

Updated: Apr 20, 2020

Breakfast Club

We all decided to meet for breakfast before the beginning of the Longitude Explorer Prize event for semi-finalists. So what better place than the Breakfast Club next door to the event at Here East. We had the most amazing feed and got into a focussed team spirit and agreed - it was “Game on, let the competition begin”. Sadly Malaika and Nishka weren’t able to join us but they had helped prepare everything for the day.

Intro and Ice Breaker

Coming into the main hall it was clear to see that everyone was full of excitement for the day ahead. After getting to know everyone on our table we began the first activity, an ice breaker. We had a sheet with a ‘Human Bingo’ list of different things, where we needed to find people around the room who had the thing on the list. For example, finding someone who was left handed. This helped us get to know some of the other groups present.

First Workshop - Agile Working

The first workshop we had was Agile Working, which gave us a lot of things to think about for our project. We began with an activity where we had several cards with different logos on them. We had to pair different logos and using them create an interesting mashup of both brands. For example, Ikea and Zara - together can create a shop where you can try food (in the same way you try clothes on before buying them) and see whether you want to buy it. This really helped us to begin being creative during the workshop. Throughout the workshop we got a really important key point. Put your client at the heart of the solution. We were all given some client profile examples and we all had to create something that would help our client.For this we needed to really get to know our client for example, their goals/wants and frustrations. We then proceeded to create wireframes for the app we had created for our client. From this workshop, we have a lot of ideas that we can incorporate into our project/presentation.

Second Workshop (Immersive AI)

The second workshop we had was Immersive AI. There were several activities and we had two favourites in particular. The picture above shows me using the VR glasses - whilst wearing these it felt as though you were inside the robot. It also copied your hand movements for example doing a fist which was quite fascinating! Another activity was similar, however with the robot you had to navigate through a maze. It proved very popular with everyone. At the workstations there was also an opportunity to code your own robot to move around and for example knock down cups.

Lunch + Networking

The lunch period enabled us to talk about what we had learnt and to test out our networking skills as we introduced ourselves to as many different groups as possible. It was really nice to share the ideas behind our projects and to get really nice feedback. However, it was equally enjoyable to hear about all the other amazing projects, what their motivations were and give pristine feedback too. It was a good way to practice describing our projects in short snapping ways. We collected other groups’ cards so we could share with our wider Young Coders MeetUp group - the amazing array of AI ideas that were around.

Third Workshop (Ethics and Security)

Our third session was made up of two smaller sessions, the first one was a talk on how to think about the ethical implications of our work. One thing the presenter talked about was an introduction to ethical AI and the things it could be applied to: visual recognition; analysing speech patterns, language; and searching large amounts of data for the result you want. However, she also spoke about how we can handle these things ethically, for example facial recognition is quite a controversial subject. (Why?)

In the second of the two workshops, the speaker showed that you don’t have to be good at school to be successful. He started a cybersecurity company when he was in year 9 and has been growing it while in school ever since. Recently he quit school at 16 to pursue his company. He also showed us how he counters scam emails to give us a small idea of how he protects the businesses he has contracts from.

Fourth Workshop (Communication Skills x2)

‘So you wanna be on TV?’ - Our fourth workshop of the day was from an amazing woman, Rioch Edwards-Brown, from ‘So you wanna be on TV’ on the topic of Communication Skills. These skills are very important not only for the competition, however are extremely useful transferable skills making this workshop all the better. From this workshop we took away 3 key points. The first point being that, ‘find the thing that allows you to unwind and relax’ whether it is dancing around, singing a song or listening to some music - this allows you to become more relaxed and calm as you deliver your pitch. Furthermore the second point we took was ‘You have 7 seconds to make your impression’ which can even be impacted by something seemingly small such as a handshake! (in which we got a little tutorial on the best way to do so!). We then were able to test out our new skills in a 30 second elevator which was also interesting as we got to have a small insight to other projects. Finally another point we got was to avoid ‘umms and ers’ and just take a pause when we need to. This workshop was very insightful and beneficial to us all!

Gweek Communication Workshop

The second communication workshop was also very great and definitely all of us became a lot more aware of the way we speak. The first challenge was 1 person speaking about a topic - ‘What did you do last week?’. The second person would count the number of times their partner said ‘ umm or err’/ hesitations - however their partner did not know they were doing this. A lot of us had some very high numbers and others low and from then on, many of us were subconsciously trying to stop the hesitations and replace them with a simple pause. We repeated this once more however instead of counting hesitations the partner was counting eye movements/ looking away for thought. The main message from this workshop was that we are all speech intelligent and a balance of pauses and eye movements could create a very good pitch over time!

Next Steps

At the end of the day we all went back into the main hall. The people from Nesta told us about what we needed to do to get into the finals. We needed to make a presentation about our app, the problem it is trying to solve, how we are going to turn our idea into a prototype and the ethical considerations of the idea. We also had to make a short video about our team and why we entered the Longitude Explorer Prize.

What we took from the day

Firstly, it was a great opportunity to come together as a team for a whole day and experience the Nesta Longitude Explorer Prize together. We’ve also gotten a better understanding of the scope of the Nesta LEP but we also got the opportunity to network with other teams from all around the country and got a sense of all the amazing ideas being presented. However, the various workshops gave us a deeper sense of the things that we need to consider when developing an AI app for good. We particularly enjoyed the communications workshops with Rioch Edwards-Brown giving us a great insight into that first 7 seconds of introducing yourself when presenting your ideas (good eye contact, confident handshake and showing your passion for your project).

The Gweek’s short exercises helped us appreciate each others qualities and the ethics workshop got us talking about the issues and considerations we need to think about when using AI technology. I guess we take home a can-do attitude and respect and consideration of the other teams in the competition. We are really looking forward to the next phase of the project, and feel better prepared after this event.

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