Imagine for a second that you live in a village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

You have an FLL team, and there is only one other team in the gorge.  Despite these difficulties, you decide to still participate in FLL.  After all, you have seen heaps of studies that show students involved in FLL have a better chance of going on to finish University, and choose a career in STEM.  The biggest problem is the National competition (which is the competition your team should attend) is thousands of miles away.  What would you do?  How would you solve this dilemma?

Sadly, this is too often the case in Australia.  Here our land mass is about the same as the “lower 48” states, but the population is about 21.2 million compared to the 279.6 million people who live in the continental US.  Currently there are 3 FLL teams in Western Australia (WA) — all of whom are very excited to participate in the Body Forward FLL challenge.  But, they are the only teams in their state.  This is simply not enough teams to have a tournament.

All this is about to change!  This year at the Sydney Regional/Australian National FLL Championship we will be hosting a “virtual tournament” in conjunction with the real version.  The 3 teams in WA will be attending through an Internet feed based off of the new scheduling system we will be using.  The WA teams will simply have Skype judging sessions and do their table runs against each other.  The scores from their table rounds will be automatically added onto the scoreboard where teams from around the world will be able to view them!

I am very excited about this amazing opportunity.  This means anyone can participate in FLL, so long as they have Internet access!  Living in the middle of the Outback or at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is no longer a hindrance to participation!  I can’t wait to see all the doors this opens for students who would otherwise be unable to enjoy the benefits of FLL.