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Robots To Take Centre Stage In Palmerston North

Robots may not be taking over the world just yet, but they will be taking over Palmerston North Conference and Function Centre on 12-13 December when the 2020 VEX IQ Challenge National Championship comes to town.

Presented by Kiwibots, Central Robotics and the Wright Family Foundation, the competition will see up to 70 primary and intermediate school teams from across New Zealand pit their colourful robots against each other in a game-based engineering challenge. Winning teams will qualify for a spot in the VEX World Championships in Dallas, Texas in 2021.

Sponsorship from the Foundation will subsidise team entry fees and allow kura kaupapa Māori (Māori immersion schools) to participate at no cost.

The free event is open to the public and will include a ‘have a go’ area where visitors can get some hands-on experience with the robots.

“We’d love to see everyone who has never heard of or been to a robotics competition before come along and see our Kiwi kids in action and even give it a go themselves,” says Kiwibots National Manager Janet Van.

“It’s a team event so it’s very social and there are students as young as seven years old taking part.”

The judging panel will include tech leaders from Rocos, AJ Park, LPS Consulting, VIZU, as well as other senior engineers from the tech industry.

Kiwibots has been part of the New Zealand robotics landscape for 11 years, with New Zealand teams winning on the international stage for 10 of those years.

Its large-scale robotics education and competition programme covers all levels of schooling from primary through to university, helping students to learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in a fun and engaging way.

“These kids are the future engineers, leaders and innovators of our generation. Kiwibots is focused on future-proofing Kiwi kids. It teaches them resilience and how to be tech-savvy in a world where their future jobs may not exist yet,” says Janet.

While there were fewer robotics events held this year due to COVID-19, including the World Champs in the USA in April, the Kiwibots programme itself has grown.

“A lot of teams have continued to learn how to design and build their robots remotely, and we are leading the world in being able to hold in-person robotics competitions,” says Janet.

Wright Family Foundation CEO Chloe Wright says Kiwibots is an exciting programme that heralds the future for our students and our country on the global stage.

“We totally embrace this initiative that extends to students who may not normally consider this as an area they could explore. Bringing together young minds with their eyes on the future, and their hands ready to create the future is nothing short of blissful.”

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