Students inspired by Zuru competition

Ella Taylor (front) with the winning Zuru entry, and (back) second-placed Beeboe creators Bella Illston, Sophie Waddell and Ashleigh Stuart. Absent: Leith Anderson.

Months of work on a school project creating a children’s toy has paid off for two Year 9 students at St Peter’s School, who were awarded first place, along with a $500 and a prize pack to share, in the Zuru Toy Development competition.

“We were just happy to get short listed, we didn’t think we would win,” said Ella Taylor, who along with her friend Leith Anderson created an interactive collector’s board game dubbed Escape from Planet Mars.

“It’s just a really great experience and gives you an insight into business and the toy industry,” said Leith. “We enjoyed making it, we faced a lot of challenges, staying up late…”

The two girls are boarding students together, and it was Ella that first conceived the board game idea in the middle of the night. “I was just lying there and came up with it, and then I woke Leith up and then we started making it,” said Ella.

“She still wakes me up at night with new business ideas,” Leith laughed.

The girls put the board together using second hand items, including a spring from their original idea for trampoline shoes, which didn’t quite work out. “It’s like a strategy game that has collectables,” Ella explained.

The girls were selected to present their idea to the Zuru headquarters in China, Skyping with ex St Peter’s student Anna Mowbray, who founded the company along with her brothers Nick and Mat. They said they were very impressed with the girls’ approach.

Year 10 students Ashleigh Stuart, Bella Illston and Sophie Waddell were named second in the Zuru competition, sharing between them a prize pack and $300 cash.

“The whole thing was a really great experience. Getting an understanding of the toy industry was really interesting, and Zuru really helped, they gave us a lot of feedback,” said Sophie Waddell.

The girls created fidget toys named Beeboes – collectable character balls that seamlessly move about on their own, using a magnet on the underside of a surface to move a toy on top.

“When I was younger we always had magnets around our house and I noticed when I would play with them that you could use the magnets through your hand,” explained Ashleigh. “So we developed this idea together with a trial and error of ideas.”

“It was a great learning experience,” said Sophie.

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