Rotorua children show promising digital futures at competitions

via Rotorua Daily Post

2020 Aquabots build day at Kaingaroa School. Photo / Supplied

Following local success at the AquaBots National Competition in Nelson last year, Rotorua students are looking forward to hosting the regional event here this weekend.

The 2020 Rotorua Regional Aquabots Competition is the largest region in the country with 60 teams participating across the two days – this Saturday and Sunday.

This year sees lots of first-time entries from teams as far away as Rotoiti, Rotoma and Hautapu.

Jessica Wilkes, Rotorua Museum digital technology educator, has played a key role initiating and co-ordinating Aquabots competition within the region.

“Alongside ongoing support from Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust, the Ministry of Business and Innovation provided a Curious Minds grant to fund a large number of first-time teams in 2020 and it has been amazing to see the uptake across our region,” she says.

AquaBots is an underwater robotics programme for school-aged children in New Zealand.

Teams are formed from Year 5 – 13 students and aims to inspire students and help discover the next generation of Kiwi scientists and engineers.

People are invited to attend the event at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre and watch teams complete several challenges, including completing the NZAquaBots Obstacle Course, a competition to retrieve the most balls and bottles, and a competition to deliver various items to an underwater shelf.

2020 Aquabots practice session at Rotorua Aquatic Centre. Photo / Supplied
2020 Aquabots practice session at Rotorua Aquatic Centre. Photo / Supplied

Winning teams will be heading to the Aquabots National Competition in Wairarapa (November 28) and will receive funding from Hayes International, Trimble and Learning Architects which will provide financial support to teams who qualify.

Last year two of the four Rotorua teams that went to the national event successfully qualified to take part in the international Sea Perch Challenge at the University of Maryland, USA, in May 2020. Unfortunately, the competition was cancelled due to Covid-19.

Another competition that has displayed a high level of local digital and engineering skills is Evolocity.

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