Maraekakaho School’s winning trip

Ten students from Maraekakaho School in Hastings were given the chance to shine at the 2016 FIRST LEGO League (FLL) national robotics competition in Auckland, after the group received 10,000 Airpoints Dollars™ in donations.

More than 30 teams of students competed in the FIRST LEGO League Trash Trek challenge, an event designed to inspire science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning.

With the theme for this year’s competition being ‘Trash Tek’, the event was focused around the effective management of rubbish in today's world. The teams were tasked to solve a real world problem around rubbish and recycling, and to programme an autonomous LEGO robot to complete challenges.

The Maraekakaho team had been studying how robotics could help manage waste and recycling at the school for the past year and were overwhelmed when they were awarded a trophy for best mechanical design. The students were also commended by the judges on the work they have done to establish sustainable waste management at Maraekakaho School, which includes installing a worm farm and making links with local pig farmers, as well as collecting food scraps for them.

“It was honestly an experience of a lifetime for these students to be able to showcase their skills. We’re in the middle of nowhere, really, and it was amazing to receive some recognition from the judges. We are so grateful to everyone who kindly donated their Airpoints Dollars so we could make the trip happen, too. 

“All of the students involved are looking to explore robotics as a career and this has definitely worked as a step towards making that a reality.” – Phil Jones, Maraekakaho School Principal

Their adventure was topped off with a trip to the Tip Top Ice Cream factory to see the robotics in action on the factory line. The winning team has not just returned with a prized trophy, but also with memories that will be treasured for many years to come.