Teen tech titans do battle

Pupils and their robots in action during the  Kiwi Challenge.
Pupils and their robots in action during the Kiwi Challenge.

Not all teenagers choose to spend their weekends making robots score goals with tennis balls. 

But for more than 40 Christchurch pupils the Kiwi Challenge, held at the weekend, helped prepare them for the international playing field. 

The Kiwi Challenge, a New Zealand-based robotics competition organised by Kiwibots, gives techno fans an insight into one of the world's fastest-growing competitions. 

Kiwibots national manager Chris Hamling said pupils were given their design instructions in March and would have spent the last three months perfecting their robots. 

Hamling said the Kiwi Challenge, held at Christchurch Boys' High School, taught competitors how to work under pressure in a bid to ''make international competition not seem so intimidating''. 

''The design requirements are a lot more restrictive than they would be for national...or international competitions and that in itself teaches them a lot.''

And who said robotics was just for boys? 

''We've had a few girls [in the Kiwi Challenge] too which is great because we're always really keen to see more girls getting involved but it's just a case of getting the word out there,'' he said. 

Hamling said about 100 teams, made up of intermediate and high school pupils, would take part in the national
championships next year before some went on to represent New Zealand at the VEX Robotics World Champions in Los Angeles. 

New Zealand has won the world champs for the last five years.

''For us, it's all about inspiring passion for science and technology and helping to create a groundswell of students wanting futures in those areas.'' 

The Press