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Skills Bright Sparks Finalists

The finalists for the Skills Bright Sparks Competition have been announced, with a number of entries addressing environmental issues – indicating that the health of our planet is a major concern for Kiwi youth.

Skills Bright Sparks is New Zealand’s preeminent and longest running national STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) competition for primary and secondary school students.

It receives entries from across a broad spectrum of digital, engineering and creative technologies that look to solve common problems or issues the students have identified. From apps and gadgets, to experiments and revolutionary machinery, the competition always shows a huge depth of innovation and creativity – with previous winners having gone on to jobs with the likes of Google, Microsoft, Instagram and IBM.

This year, however, the judges noticed that a large number of entries were very clearly focused on addressing environmental concerns.

“The level of innovation and entries Skills receives to the competition always blow us away,” says Garry Fissenden, Skills Group CEO. “This year, however, it was really evident that what many of our students are very focused on, is solutions to issues that impact our environment.”

From a shower timer designed to save water and encourage shorter showers, to an automated weed killer for farming, a project addressing soil leaching to minimise impact on New Zealand rivers and streams, and a device that measures levels of e-coli in our waterways, the finalists’ projects show a wide range of designs for a broad spectrum of eco-concerns.

New name, new partner
This year the competition has been rebranded Skills Bright Sparks, allowing Skills to be the naming sponsor of an event it founded and has now run for over 20 years.

“Skills has undergone a significant period of growth – so we just felt it was time we branded the competition Skills Bright Sparks.”

This year Skills Bright Sparks also partnered with Rocket Lab who recognised that the Bright Sparks programme is key to encouraging the next generation of New Zealanders to consider careers in engineering, innovation and, within that, space exploration.

As well as providing members of the Rocket Lab team as judges for the Skills Bright Sparks competition, winning students will also receive a guided tour of Rocket Lab’s rocket factory and Mission Control – as well as the chance to watch a ‘hotfire’ test of its Rutherford rocket engines.

Skills Bright Sparks isalso once again sponsored by ASB, who have supported the competition fora number ofyears. This year they will also once again be providing prizes to key winners, including business mentorship and an opportunity to tap into the GridAKL start-up community for advice on how to take their inventions to the next level. Other sponsor prizes also include an internship with IT-based service provider, Datacom.

The finalists
Students entered the competitionviatheSkills Bright Sparks website. Thisinvolvedsubmittinga videothat demonstratedtheir project and detailedthe technical elements involved.

Judging took place on 2Octoberby a specialist panel includingexperts from Skills Group, Rocket Lab, ASB, The Resource Guys, Flexware as well as a number of former Bright Sparks winners.

The finalists for Skills Bright Sparks 2019 are:

Adam Smith – Christchurch Isabella Mumford - Auckland
Agam Aharon – Auckland James Avenell - Alexandra
Angelina Yang – Auckland Jasmine Jared - Auckland
Bailey Lissington – Timaru Matthew Shepherd - Napier
Bert Downs – Te Awamutu Michael Dewe, Finn Eger, Brennan Drach - Tasman
Breanna Jury - Auckland Sam Petersen, Benjamin Lindsey, Daniel Ronolds, Arlo Andrew, Will Fraser – Mt Maunganui/Tauranga
Brian Kitchen - Auckland Saniya Lal - Auckland
Bruce Chen - Christchurch Summer Bailey - Auckland
Casey Richardson-Mould – Auckland Thomas James - Christchurch
Felix Backhouse - Christchurch Will Waters - Tauranga
Genevieve Cartmell – Auckland Zeb Healy - Inglewood

The awards ceremony
The winners of the Skills Bright Sparks competition for 2019 will be announced at the Auckland awardsceremony at Datacomon Thursday 7 November.

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