Hawke’s Bay students challenge the globe at the Robotics Olympics


Four teenagers from Hawke have been selected for the New Zealand Blackbots squad to represent the country at October’s FIRST Global Robotics World Cup in Geneva, Switzerland. Innovative robotics inventors from Karamu and Havelock North High School were chosen from their school teams who met every Sunday to hone their skills for the respective regional and national competitions.

Left to right – Jimmy August, Mary-Jane Richards, Ella White, Ruby Langford

FIRST New Zealand team representative and mentor Brendon White acknowledged that Hawke’s Bay has a pool of passionate children who were nurtured by robotics in primary school. “These students go from building lego robots to building robots using the skills they learned in their youth. We are currently forming partnerships with local high schools with an emphasis on collaboration rather than One of the core values ​​of FIRST is collaboration and this has been the basis of the successes of young students nationally and internationally.

The FIRST global event, which the team will compete in, is back after a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic. Hawke’s Bay youth will receive a standard kit of parts to design and assemble a robot to complete tasks in a themed game. The theme of the game is based on the real-life challenges faced by world governments. Students should be able to build and code a robot from scratch.

Throughout the competition, they will partner with robots from other teams in a spirit of cooperation for an “Olympic” experience like no other. “Attendees will see how they can compete to each provide better solutions, but more importantly, how they can work together. We are all on the same team. We are all competing with the same global challenges.

The FIRST Global Challenge empowers children around the world to participate in problem solving and cooperate with each other to solve the world’s problems,” said Dean Kamen, Founder of FIRST Global and renowned inventor.

Although this is the team’s first time competing with a new style of robot, they are by no means inexperienced in robotics or competing at the highest level. Jimmy August (Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) is already an international winner in robotics after being a member of the Blackbots team that finished 2nd in the 2019 FIRST Lego competition in the United States. Mary-Jane Richards (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) was a member of a Hawke’s Bay team that was FIRST Lego National Champion in 2020. Her trip to Texas with the Blackbots fell through due to pandemic travel restrictions. While Ella White (Te Ātiawa) and Ruby Langford are relatively new to robotics, they have already been identified in sports codes for regional development programs and have experience in high-level competition.

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