Saturday, May 21, 2022

Waimea College Thrilled For Students Who Won NZAquaBot Nationals - Wishing Them Well For International SeaPerch Competitions in USA

The NZAquaBots National Competitions, the Waimea College Narwhal - Matariki Winning Team for Tasman, students Caitlin Pilcher, Thorben Therkleson and  Brooke Robinson.  

Photo: Thanks to Ministry of Inspiration


 Continuation of article from 17th May

Brooke Robinson, Thorben Therkleson and Caitlin Pilcher won their division in the NZ AquaBots National Competition at the Richmond's Aquatic Centre coming first overall beating 21 other NZ teams recently.  

They became the third TASMAN team that has made it to the finals of NZ AquaBots Nationals.

All three teenagers are now eligible to travel to Washington to compete in the International SeaPerch competitions, but only Thorben Therkleson and Caitlin Pilcher have decided to go to the International SeaPerch competition.

These two students have only a week before they leave and they still need funding towards their travels. 

Graeme Smith the Associate Principal of Waimea College said 

Waimea College is thrilled that these young students have an amazing result, for their enthusiasm, their effort, and for their creative ideas.”

“All the Team had a real interest in science and hoped to be involved in the science field in their future.”

“The students had told me that they were keen to do something a bit different, something new that is not part of normal school and in an area of their passion. Talking of something different: the Team's name is “Narwhal” which came from a specific card in the card game they had been playing.”

“Also, the Team have called their BOT Matariki and painted in the southern sky because they wanted it to be New Zealand based.”

“The Team would also like to acknowledge one of their other members, Izzy Lodge, who could not attend the National event.”

“Waimea College is immensely proud of our students and wish them well in the USA.”


The Royal Society, of scientists and academics, usually funds these bright students for part of their travel costs, but recently they have had to withdraw from this funding. So funding for the trip to the International Finals in the USA is still underway for the team.

A Give-a little page (see the link below) has been set up for Thorben Therkleson and fellow classmate Caitlin Pilcher (both 15) to travel to the United States for the International 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

The Team were part of a group selected for a Marine Biology and Engineering study camp. During this period the students learnt how to build, maintain, and pilot a ROV (remotely operated vehicle) their BOT Matariki, a tremendous feat in itself, but went on to learn about the oceans and the life within them.

The students were able to collect real world data while using their ROV for an international research project about marine biosecurity, a programme started by the Cawthron Institute of Science. Other experiments were able to be done and also the Team collected bio samples of eDNA to be analysed by the University of Otago.

The Narwhal - Matariki Team that went on to become the Tasman winners of the NZ AquaBots National Competition would like to thank their parents and all the other people involved in their studies and funding.

One USA teacher commented about the Ministry of Inspiration teaching programme “As a dedicated educator and a science lover, I have to say that the SeaPerch Program is giving me and my students the opportunity of a lifetime.  The program facilitates the learning of a wide variety of skills and gives science teachers a powerful tool to turn the learning experience of the students into an active, challenging and highly engaging one. In my past eight years as a science teacher, I had never experienced so much fun and excitement inside and outside my classroom.” 

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