The eleventh annual ETITO Bright Sparks Awards saw a fantastic array of entries from all across the country, with finalists invited to showcase their projects online with pictures and video at www.brightsparks.org.nz.
The Awards ceremony at Jade in Christchurch on Tuesday evening was an opportunity to display their projects in front of representatives from the hi-tech industry and universities, teachers, parents and mentors, and of course – their rivals in the competition.
Ross Petersen, Bright Sparks Manager says each successive year of the awards raises the bar for the next entrants. “It’s like an arms race. A couple of years ago we saw the first projects incorporating software and programming elements. Then we saw touch-screens make an appearance, and now we’re seeing wireless networking, and some of the projects are integrating with cellphone applications. It’s really fantastic to see the progression.”
Among the winners, Lower Hutt youth Reiker von Motschelnitz, who came third equal in the 13-14 years category, came up with a unique robotic dragon that incorporates a complex set of linkages that he designed using 3D CAD.
Reiker’s project is great example of the new kind of self-directed learning that is available to students with the internet. Reiker was able to use source information and advice from people around the world that he put to use on his project – including a professor from UCLA in the US.
The ETITO Bright Sparks Awards inspires school students towards hi-tech careers through a practical, hands-on approach – something that is crucial to New Zealand’s economic future.