Franklin Counties News. Issue Dec 10, 2013
WINNING WHIZZ KIDS
Franklin kids, Tim Harrington, Ethan Kyle and Tonii Ruiterman (Team Antimatter) won New Zealand’s FIRST Lego League Challenge with their Lego robot and are now fundraising so the group can head to the world festival in St. Louis in the United States next year.
Many adults struggle to understand the concept of robotics, but these science whizz kids make it look easy.
Franklin’s Team Antimatter took out first prize at the national FIRST Lego League (FLL) Challenge, held at Strathallan College on November 30, qualifying for the world festival in the United States next year.
FLL is an international competition for school students where a new challenge is announced each year that focuses on a different real-world topic related to the sciences.
FLL has a huge following around the world with more than 20,000 teams and over 100,000 participating children aged nine to 16.
The teams must build and program an autonomous Lego robot and also solve a realworld problem.
The teams use Lego Mindstorms kits to construct their robots which are programmed using one of two graphicalbased programming languages: NXT-G or Robolab.
Team Antimatter; made up of Tim Harrington from Ramarama School and Ethan Kyle and Tonii Ruiterman from Strathallan College, had been working on their robot and project since the start of September.
The theme of this year’s worldwide competition was nature’s fury, so Antimatter focused on Mt Ruapehu and the threat of an eruption.
The group designed a concept app that alerts Ruapehu users of an impending ’ eruption and guides them to a safe zone on the mountain.
‘‘It warns you if you are in the path of an eruption and tells rescue personal where people are,’’ Tim said.
The group even interviewed Sergeant Dene Duthie – the head of New Zealand’s search and rescue team.
‘‘We spent weekends and holidays working on it. Every spare minute we could,’’ Ethan said.
The group said it was exciting to be crowned as the overall winners.
‘‘It was fun, exciting and challenging all at the same time,’’ Tim said.
The group have all been involved with the competition for years.
‘‘Ethan’s dad runs the event and I got into it when I was six because my brother did it,’’ Tim said.
‘‘I’ve always loved technology.’’ Antimatter is now fundraising so the group can head to the world festival in St Louis, Missouri, from April 25 to 27.
‘‘We would be competing against 82 teams and 20,000 kids so it will be a lot of hard work but we are very excited,’’ Tonii said.
Team Antimatter will need to raise $5000 per person for the trip.