The Norris Box had piqued my interest from the moment I first heard about it at the Great Escape Unconference.  There were two things in particular…. firstly, I loved the idea of instead of escaping out of somewhere, you were trying to break into something.  Secondly, Jane Norris has created a product that can be directed at the younger education sector, and that’s a very worthy use of puzzles.

I joined Jane at a meeting of Brownies on location in Halifax.  A traffic diversion had led me to arrive a little late and so two groups of curious and joyful 8-10 year old Brownies were already tackling the puzzles to get inside Norris Box.  They were enlivened and intrigued, and all the things you really want to see in young ones as they are learning and developing.  Hearing their laughter, and the ‘wow’ moments when something unlocked. It was an absolute pleasure to watch.

Jane is a teacher herself and has developed the Norris box in line with her experience and knowledge. It is clear from watching the Brownies tackling the box that Jane knows exactly how to manage the flow, the hints, and the progression of the thinking of these young minds.  She is well skilled at directing and refocusing the young players, gently guiding them to lovely successes as they progress through the puzzles.

It was a wonderful opportunity for me to witness the process of these young thinking minds, most particularly the unrestricted freedom they apply to the puzzles.  It’s also clear to see any pre-conditioning in their minds, and the Norris Box is an ideal tool to coax out and stimulate alternative approaches to the thinking process.  Even for groups at this young age, the puzzle box could clearly show team dynamics, natural aptitudes and motivations and areas that a teacher or parent could focus on strengthening or developing.

Jane has innovatively adapted the internal puzzles to accommodate any age range, from adults to children.  The internal workings of the Box are all interchangeable, which makes her product ideal across a vast area of target markets.  Her passion is obviously with the school sector and she has given sound consideration to her approach to this market and how she can be of service to it.  I hope she succeeds well with this, because I’m a strong advocate for alternative approaches to education and learning.

“I see it as training for life skills” Jane explained as she talked about the puzzle content she has designed. “Teaching itself is an entertainment business. I want the children to choose to engage.  They are engaging because they are interested in the activity, not because it is being enforced upon them.”  It’s clear to me that Jane’s product can be extremely helpful within the education system. She has fine tuned an approach that facilitates combined mental and emotional function and as she says, “… it’s amazing what you see happen to kids who may be withdrawn or who usually exclude themselves.”   Learning requires participation and engagement, and Jane has opened an alternative way forward with this through Norris Box.

From starting out with playing escape rooms, Jane knew she wanted to do something of a ‘puzzling’ nature.  She began envisioning her way forward with a project, based on how to fit it into her own lifestyle as a mother with young children.  It was that which brought her to turn the escape room concept on its head, and her Norris Box creation perfectly suits her choices for how she wants to live.

We chatted about ideas for developing markets for the Norris Box and I was able to offer some marketing suggestions that may help her progress her own vision.  She has a strong business plan and the scope for the potential of Norris Box is enormous.  The ‘childrens party’ market is just waiting for something this unusual.  Corporate team building will love the convenience of this set up. Norris Box will be contributing to the #WeAreNotAlone  Corporate Challenge in October 2017.

And I suggested she look at the ‘quiz night’ sector potential, because who wouldn’t want to pop down to the local for a ‘Norris Night’!  There’s such a wide range of applicable markets for her product and personally I wish her every success, she has worked hard to create this adaptable and purposeful product.

You can see more about the Norris Box on the website at: https://www.norrisbox.co.uk/ and contact Jane directly with any enquiries about making the Norris Box the feature at your next event.  Follow the Norris Box page on Facebook for new announcements. And of course, find them on Twitter @Norris_Box