This afternoon I went along to my first Kiwibots event, a regional competition for the Canterbury region.
For those not familiar with Kiwibots, it involves students using the Vex robotics kit sets to build robots and then compete against other teams in an arena to score the most points in a task that varies from year to year. This year each team is made up of two robots and their operators to move coloured balls in different parts of the arena to score points. There are several different ways to core points and as such the robots built by different teams can vary significantly depending on their strategy for scoring points.
I was very impressed by the opportunities that Kiwibots provide for students – not only does it teach them about building and programming robots, it also teaches them teamwork and strategy. Also, despite this being a competition, it seemed a very friendly competition. In Christchurch, it is an event that has been championed by some very dedicated teachers and parents, though this year Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology is getting involved to support Kiwibots in the Canterbury region.
Next week I’m off to Auckland to see (and help judge) the National Kiwibots competition which I am looking forward to. Held at the Vodaphone Event Centre, I am told it is an action packed, almost chaotic weekend. It would be great to see if Kiwibots can be introduced into secondary and tertiary curricula in a way students can gain credits for their work, as it is a very engaging way to learn about mechanics and computer programming.
The picture below is of a previous years’ Kiwibot event.