Robotics competition engaging Māori students

3:20 pm on 19 September 2017

A new regional robotics competition is looking to boost science and technology participation rates among Māori children.

robot, children with robot, children making robot

RoboPā project manager said the event was about learning by doing. Photo: 123RF

The RoboPā Regional Scrimmage involves primary school students across the eastern Bay of Plenty competing in a regional robotics competition in Whakatāne.

Ministry of Education data shows Māori students in rural locations and areas of low socio-economic status were under-achieving in science, technology, engineering and maths.

RoboPā project manager Thomas Mitai said the competition would help to engage students in technology and test their skills in programming and engineering.

"Competitive robotics brings a whole lot of opportunities to engage with our rangatahi in a collaborative, fun and challenging environment.

"It's about learning by doing."

Much of the programme is taught in te reo Māori, as many RoboPā learners come from Māori communities such as Ōpōtiki, Whakatāne, Kawerau, Edgecumbe, Ruatoki, Poroporo and Paroa.

"The skills, knowledge and experience acquired throughout this event will help equip our young people to be innovators and creators in digitally driven environments, rather than just passive consumers," Mr Mitai said.

Two mainstream and four kura kaupapa schools registered for the inaugural event, with a further 18 indicating interest in participating next year.

The two-day competition, which starts today, was designed by Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi technology hub.

The first day will focus on skills challenges and workshops, with the competition on day two.

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