A LEGO Masters contestant joined a handful of Mount Gambier High School students last week as they were pitted against each other in a competition inspired by the hit television show.
Jodie Collard was one half of team Jennifer and Jodie in season two of the reality series, but the brick-building extraordinaire took ona mentoring role on Friday for the Year 8 Digital Technologies lesson.
This was followed by a school challenge, where more around a dozen students went head-to-head using the humble LEGO brick to craft a new or existing animal.
Having just 10 minutes to brainstorm, all competitors completed their designs in time which ranged from farm animals to other-worldly imaginative creatures.
A personal connection brought Ms Collard to the Blue Lake city – which was once home to fellow season two contestants Tim and Dannii – travelling from Adelaide to visit her friend and high school teacher Emma Robinson.
Ms Robinson – who founded BrickGambier – was originally destined to be Ms Collard’s partner on the series before an international trip derailed her bid, with Jennifer Campbell stepping up to take on the challenge.
Taking on a teaching role at the school this year and incorporating LEGO into some learning activities, Ms Robinson asked Ms Collard if she could participate in the classroom activities.
“I think students, like us all, learn the best by being exposed to it in several different ways,” Ms Robinson said.
“It is a great learning tool and I find most students have been interested.
“It is exciting that we can use our Collaborative Learning Centre to showcase new opportunities that include students and the community.”
Ms Robinson has established a LEGO group each Tuesday for students to free-build during their lunch break, with Friday’s challenge another element to their usual workshop.
The LEGO fanatic – who had the rare opportunity to tour Denmark’s iconic Billund LEGO House earlier this year – said knew from experience challenge would be exciting for students.
“We wanted to make sure each student had a story to tell about their animal,” she said.
“On LEGO Masters, Brickman talks about not only looking at the design and reasons for you to build, but it also needs to look aesthetically pleasing and it needs to have a story.
“I think the story element is very important as after all we are building with a toy.”
Thoroughly enjoying her experience with the students, Ms Collard said she was surprised with how creative and quick students were when put to the test.
Sharing her LEGO Masters journey with The Border Watch, Ms Collard said it was an emotional roller-coaster for herself and Ms Campbell.
“Sometimes I would bestressed, which would then make me upset and then we would be happy when we finished something,” she said.
“It was a really pinch yourself kind of moment where you would constantly ask yourself if we were really there or not.”
Ms Collard was eliminated from the competition following the underwater challenge, with the team’s stunning, technical mermaid design not enough to progress to finals week.
Surprised and proud with how they progressed during the show, Ms Collard said they both developed ways to keep their nerves at bay during filming.
“There were some extraordinary builders in that room and sometimes you would look around and just doubt whether we could keep up,” she said.
“Each time you walked under the roller door, you did not know what to expect.
“I think my favourite highlight from the show was during second episode when we blew our creation up.”
Ms Collard said even when the cameras were not rolling, show host Hamish Blake was funny and knew how to make people smile when under pressure.
“He is hilarious and it is just him and his natural personality,” she said .
“There was no acting from him, if people were getting stressed, they would send him back in and make everyone smile again.”
Developing her passion for LEGO around nine years ago, Ms Collard said it was her sons Harley, 9 and Cooper, 13, which helped ignite the spark.
“My son Cooper has autism and it was his obsession with LEGO is what made me begin to also love it,” she said.
“It is such a fantastic learning tool and you can use it for just about everything.”
Attending BrickGambier in 2018 and 2019, Ms Collard said she plans to be back in the Limestone Coast soon.