Tauranga teens shine at robotics nationals

Dom Absalom, Noah Douglas, Luke Jenkinson and Ryan Kayser with Nate Wadsworth (left) and Sam Orsler (Right) kneeling. Photo: Debbie Griffiths.

Tauranga teens who competed at the Kiwibots VEX Robotics Competition National Championships in Auckland last weekend have returned home with a number of trophies.

Sixty-five teams competed in matches with robots that they had designed and programmed.

One team from Otumoetai College made to the tournament finals, which qualifies them to compete at the World Championships in Dallas in April.

The teams from Tauranga’s STEAM-ED Charitable Trust picked up awards for consistently high scores and consistently high scoring robot programming.

Luke Jenkinson, Sam Orsler and Ryan Kayser focus on their match. Photo: Stephan van Haren, St Peter's College, Palmerston North.

STEAM-ED’s 8757A team finished 5th in the qualifying rounds and got knocked out in the quarter finals. They won the judge’s Think Award for their robot’s autonomous performance. Chief programmer 17 year-old Ryan Kayser from Mount Maunganui College admits it was disappointing not to get further in the competition.

“We were hoping for a bit more, but we did get an award so that’s a real highlight for us. Our programming and driving went well,” says Ryan.

“STEAM-ED is great. We’ve been given a lot of knowledge and wisdom from our mentors, Toni and Paul.”

STEAM-ED 8757B team finished 7th in the qualifying rounds and got eliminated in the semi-finals by the eventual champions, Lynfield College. Fifteen-year-old Otumoetai College student Dom Absalom says winning the Amaze Award was a nice surprise.

“We’ve done quite well at nationals, so I’m really pleased with our work,” says Dom.

“Our programming was reliable and our driver was consistently high scoring so that contributed to us having one of the highest scores in the competition.”

Dom says robotics has given him skills he uses in other areas of his life.

“It’s quite team building and communication heavy and we also need to come up with solutions on the fly and adjust to how our alliance team is playing the game as well as figuring out what our opponents are doing. It’s a lot of problem solving.”

Dom Absalom, Nate Wadsworth and Noah Douglas (standing) talk strategy with STEAM-ED mentors Paul and Toni de Rijk. Photo: Stephan van Haren, St Peter's College, Palmerston North.

Kiwibots National Operations Manager Michelle Hazeleger-Mollard says New Zealand teams hold their own on an international level.

“We are so proud to support our rangatahi from Tāmaki Makaurau down to Otautahi," says Michelle.

"Over the past 13 years of participating at a global level, Kiwibots teams have brought home world titles in 12 of those years. The innovation, collaboration and commitment of these students is admirable!”

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