Intermediate produces two bright sparks

Will Waters, left, and Ethan Duck are both finalists in the ASB Bright Sparks Awards. Photo: Ryan Wood.

Two Otumoetai Intermediate pupils are in the running for People’s Choice at this year’s ASB Bright Sparks Awards.

Ethan Duck, 13, and Will Waters, 12, have both been selected as finalists, thanks to their ideas for new pieces of software.

Ethan’s project is a handwriting app designed for iPads, with dyslexic students in mind. Users encounter letters and words, and use the touch screen to trace the shape of the letters with their finger.

“By repeating the motion, you get used to writing,” says Ethan. “Kids who have tried it say they prefer it over paper.”

Ethan says the hardest part of the project was learning to programming language to design the app, which took him six months. But now he’s had some interest from Matua School, where they intend to try it simply as handwriting tool for Year 1 and 2 children.

Fellow pupil Will also designed a new piece of software for his entry – a teacher planner. He says he came up with the idea after seeing his teachers carrying around heavy books containing all their lesson plans.

His software allows teachers to fill in their daily plans electronically, as well as keep the roll.

“My teacher’s been using it a bit,” says Will. “Since I had a deadline to work to, though, the user interface was a bit rushed. I’m hoping to improve that when I rebuild the programme.”

ASB Bright Sparks is an initiative of The Skills Organisation, and has been running for the past 17 years.

Skills CEO Garry Fissenden says more than 6000 students have been involved in the programme.

“It started out with a focus on electrical projects but has now moved to encompass engineering, science, software and the environment. It has been sponsored by ASB since 2016.

“Entries have been received from across the country, and project submissions range from robotics to apps, to inventions which improve household objects, and deal with environmental issues.”

The ASB Bright Sparks competition is open to all New Zealand school students, and is an opportunity to showcase their inventiveness and problem solving skills.

“It’s a chance for students to create solutions for day-to-day problems and develop novel inventions.”

A prize pool of $10,000 is on offer to finalists, who will travel up to Auckland for an awards ceremony as ASB North Wharf on Tuesday November 7.


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