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Schools line up for national robotics challenge

30 August 2018

Local tāmariki experiment with robotics

A robotics competition for primary schools that began in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has become a national event.

Twenty-three primary schools will compete next month in four regional challenges to qualify for the National Robotics Scrimmage in Whakatāne in October.

The two-day events challenge teams to build a robot to complete complex tasks. The teams then test and re-test the robot against each other. The robotics challenge has been designed by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi technology hub Robopā to engage and encourage young students in teamwork, leadership, communication and STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths.

Robopā project coordinator Thomas Mitai said the competition has been developed to actively engage young Māori in learning and help them improve and test their skills in programming and engineering.

"In this age of technology our aspiration is to nurture an interest in technology and teach robotics while highlighting the importance of working together, sharing thoughts and ideas, and holding on to our language," says Mr Mitai.

“Ministry of Education data indicates that Māori students in rural locations and areas of low socio-economic status are under-achieving in the STEM subjects. Robotics is a great educational tool for experiential learning, and competitive robotics brings a whole lot of opportunities to engage with our rangatahi in a collaborative, fun and challenging environment. It’s about learning by doing.”

Teams come from both mainstream and kura kaupapa schools.

Last year, 12 teams from primary schools across the Eastern Bay of Plenty competed in the inaugural regional robotics competition in Whakatāne. Next week, representatives from six schools in the Mātaatua region will battle it out and Tairāwhiti (East Coast), Tāmaki (Auckland) and Taitokerau (Northland) schools will compete later in the month for a place in the two-day National Scrimmage.

Regional events

Mātaatua: September 3-4 in Whakatāne.

Tairāwhiti: September 6-7 in Ōpōtiki.

Tāmaki: September 17-18 in Auckland.

Taitokerau: September 20-21 in Broadwood, North Hokianga.

National Scrimmage

October 31 – November 1 in Whakatāne.