Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Community Funding Needed for NZAquaBots National Competition Winners so they can Compete in the United States


Brooke Robinson, Thorben Therkleson and Caitlin Pitcher, the Narwhal Team from Tasman, who won their division in the NZAquaBot National Competition and could now compete in the United States.    Photo: Thanks to Waimea Weekly

The funding for the Tasman winners of the New Zealand AquaBots Nationals Competition to attend the International SeaPerch Competitions held at the University of Maryland, Washington DC, has dried up and the TASMAN winners would like help with funding.

Brooke Robinson, Thorben Therkleson and Caitlin Pilcher won their division in the NZ AquaBots Nationals Competition at the Richmond's Aquatic Centre coming first overall beating 21 other NZ teams recently.  All three teenagers are now eligible to travel to Washington to compete in the International SeaPerch competitions.

Caitlin commented how she felt winning “It was very exciting and it was definitely very surprising. I don't think any of us expected it.”

Funding for this overseas trip was partly supplied by the Royal Society but Debbie Woodhall, the Royal Society Strategic Projects Advisor, said “Unfortunately I regret to advise that our funding for students to travel to international science and technology events has been suspended and I do not know what will happen for next year.  It may be that this will not continue into the future either.”

It is evident then that funding needs to be secured elsewhere to help the students attend their international competition.  So I am writing this article to ask you to give a helping hand to make sure our future young adults secure the funds necessary so our future scientists and engineers can go on their way to further learning and have an experience of a lifetime in the USA.

One could say that these teenage Waimea College Students have another battle on their hands to secure enough funding to be able to attend the International SeaPerch Competitions in June.

A Give-a little page (see the link below) has been set up for Thorben Therkleson and fellow classmate Caitlin Pilcher (both 15) who are the successful National Champions in their age group and have decided  to try and travel to the United States for the SeaPerch Competition.

Here is the link to the Give-a-little page any amount helps:

Help Nelson teens get to the USA for a science and engineering competition

QR Code for donations

What are the NZAquaBot National Competitions all about:

The competition is run and organised by the Ministry of Inspiration and briefly these are the items the students have to be involved in:

  • Designing and building a submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)
  • Piloting the ROV through a series of underwater challenges
  • Creating an in-depth Technical design report
  • In-person presentation explaining their engineering design choices   
  • Creating a video outlining the team and their design principles

Thorben Therkleson, Brooke Robinson and Caitlin Pitcher, the Narwhal Team from Waimea College Tasman, Testing their equipment before the NZAquaBot National Championships.    Photo: Thanks to Waimea Weekly

Amy Cornelisen the NZAquaBot National Championship Coordinator and Organiser from the Ministry of Inspiration said “the NZAquaBot National Championship was held 26-27 March this year in two locations due to Covid, Rotorua and Richmond. Twenty-one teams battled it out in 4 water events and a scientific presentation.”

“Teams represented Northland, Auckland, Rotorua, Richmond, and Nelson. Four teams have qualified to compete in the International Sea Perch Challenge in June 2022 in the USA

One of those teams is from Waimea College Tasman. This is the third TASMAN team that has made it to the international competition!

NZAquaBots started in TASMAN and this should be noted by the Tasman residents. From here it has spread around the entire country and even to Australia.

Thorben from the Narwhal Team commented how his team became interested in remote controlled vehicles, “Late last year some lucky students from around the top of the south were given the opportunity to participate in an engineering and science camp run by the University of Otago at Mistletoe Bay in the Queen Charlotte Sounds. During this camp, my team, and a few other teams constructed remote operated vehicles for underwater exploration and data gathering. So the camp at Mistletoe Bay was how we got started in remote control vehicle technically”

NZAquaBots goes beyond the local pool, it promotes the relevance of science and technology and broadens the community’s ability to engage in science and technology. The programme activities, including the building of remote controlled vehicles extend beyond youth by engaging families and the wider community.

The NZAquaBots National Competitions, the Narwhal Winning Team Caitlin Pitcher, Thorben Therkleson and  Brooke Robinson.  

Photo: Thanks to Ministry of Inspiration

The judges for the competition and mentors come from the local science industry such as: Cawthron Institute, Plant and Food Research, King Salmon and local science teachers. 

The competition always has an obstacle course and a presentation. The other water events change each year and reflect a NZ theme. This past year the theme was the Geothermal Geyser of Rotorua.

Participants learn design engineering, science-hydrodynamics, electronics, buoyancy, refraction, pressure, etc.. In addition as it is a team event students learn 21st century educational skills such as Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking.

The competition was not easy as Thorben commented “The hardest part of the competition was probably in the nationals when our motors didn't work so we were unable to participate in the first event of the competition. We then had to put together a new set of three motors and attach them to our ROV with just minutes to spare before the next event of the competition.”

“The Ministry of Inspiration (MOI),” Amy Cornelisen said, “Is a TASMAN-based charitable trust committed to offering students innovative and inspiring experiences through STEAMS programmes (science, technology, engineering, arts, maths, and society) and geared towards a participatory audience of ages 5 to 18, with an added leadership development component for the older students.”

What are the International SeaPerch Competitions:

The competitions are held at the University of Maryland, Washington DC. 

Over 140 teams are competing in the USA next month representing 9 different countries.The annual International SeaPerch Challenge is an invitation-only event open to teams that excel at registered regional competitions and earn a slot to compete in the season’s culminating event.

On land, teams show off their engineering skills through technical papers and presentations. In the pool, they navigate their SeaPerch through a series of obstacles inspired by the real world that test manoeuvrability, control, and utility. Each season has a new theme and a new set of competition tasks, challenging teams to expand on their original vehicle design.

Beyond the friendly rivalry, all competitions bring students together from different schools, states, and countries to form a supportive community.

The Tasman students, Caitlin Pilcher and Thorben Therkleson have written a whole technical report to take with them to the international competitions and it is amazing to read with the depth of knowledge these 15 year olds have achieved. I would like to print the whole report so you could read it for yourselves but they have the copyright.

Let's hope they can both make it to the United States and have a chance to win the International Competition.

Thorben commented about winning the National Competition and about future travel “Rather surprised, as we went into the competition just for fun with no intent at all of winning so coming home with the victory sure felt nice.”

About travel “ I’m not very excited at the thought of traveling overseas but I think that when the day comes around and I am about to get on the plane I will get very excited. The thought of going to America seems a bit unreal to me, but I do think it will be very awesome.”

Caitlin commented about travel “Its crazy that we have been given the opportunity of going to America and I am super excited to be going to America!” 

Thank you for giving a contribution to have these young adults achieve their dreams.


Pigeon Post News


No comments:

Post a Comment

Looming changes forecast for Tasman District Council's 10 Year Plan

  Changes looming for Tasman District Council's 10 Year Plan   5 May, 2024 Tasman District Council’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Drum...