Robot to fly the flag

California here they come

DYLAN GOWAN
Last updated 09:00 08/03/2014
Feilding High School student team ‘‘Skaro’’ have won the NZ Excellence Award for Robotics
WARWICK SMITH

SWITCHED ON: Feilding High School student team ‘‘Skaro’’ have won the NZ Excellence Award for Robotics and also two online challenges.

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A Feilding High School robotics team will compete at the world championships in California next month.

"Skaro" won the Excellence Award at the KiwiBot National Championships in Auckland last weekend.

They came fifth in the tournament, but won the excellence award, not only for their robot but for their work with local primary schools and in the online competition in which they won two out of the six challenges they entered, beating teams from all over the world.

Their success wins them entry to the world championships.

"Bearing in mind that two of the teams that qualified this year are current world champions, with only five teams qualified from New Zealand, it was a really big win for us to qualify for worlds. Especially to qualify as top school," said Graham Conlon, the teacher in charge of the robotics team.

Skaro is the only New Zealand team eligible for the world excellence award, which is the top international award.

"They'll be flying the flag for New Zealand," Mr Conlon said.

The team members were aiming to win the national excellence award and were thrilled when they heard their team called. "At first it took us a moment to register it was our number that they had called out but it was really nice because it sort of showed that the work we had put in over the last couple of years . . . was being rewarded and being recognised," team captain Niamh Conlon said.

Skaro, named after the home planet of the Daleks from Doctor Who, are looking forward to the experience the world championships will bring.

"We're looking forward to having our minds blown by the other robots," said Heinrigh Beaukes, engineer for the team.

"It will be nice to see the sort of calibre worlds has to offer and it will be nice to take our robot and our little country school and little team to bigger heights," Niamh said.

"And we're all looking forward to Disneyland."

But before they head to the United States the team are trying to raise $12,000 to cover the $18,000 cost of the trip. As part of their win they received $6000 in cash and travel.

"We're leaving on April 20th, so we've literally got five weeks to raise the money," Mr Conlon said.

"We're hoping for some grants from the Manawatu District Council and the prime minister's office and then the rest of it we are going to have to put on to parents because we don't have time to do fundraising events. So what we're really hoping is that local businesses will be able to sponsor us," he said.

For anyone interested in seeing some robotics in action, there will be a local competition held at the Feilding High School Hall on Saturday, March 29. An auction is likely to be held there to raise money. People interested in sponsoring the team can contact Feilding High School.

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- Manawatu Standard

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