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Popular school engineering challenge finds regional winner, other heats suspended due to Covid threat




thumbnail 06 MF-EPro8 copy-452Two Whangarei schools were crowned champions in a race against-time competition designed to stimulate the problem-solving inventor mind-set of school children.

Ngunguru School and Hurupaki School in Kamo, Whangarei, took out the Year 7 & 8 title and Year 5 & 6 respectively in the three hour final of ‘Northpower EPro8 Challenge 2020’, held at Whangarei Intermediate School on March 4. A previous round of regional finals saw 25 Northland schools, including Mangawhai Beach School, compete for a placing.

Supported and sponsored by Northpower, EPro8’s Andrew Thiele says while ‘competition was tight, Ngunguru and Hurupaki were deserving winners’.

“This is the latest event we have held in Northland and that is due to Northpower’s sponsorship and support, along with their connectedness with the community,” he says. “Add to that the overwhelming support of local schools and the enthusiasm of the students, parents and teachers, EPro8 has had an outstanding start to the year.”

Unfortunately due to the threat of coronavirus, EPro8 events throughout the country are suspended from March 20, with a plan to run heats only, EPro8’s manager Kelvin Thiele says through a message on the company’s website.

“This situation is extremely upsetting. We were all set up for a record year, registrations were way up on last year and we were heading towards over 12,000 students taking part and employed more staff to help run the events,” he says. “We just love running these events… we will definitely be back and hopefully bring a few smiles to a few students.”

An engineering and problem solving race, EPro8 Challenge attracts over 10,000 students from 900 New Zealand schools every year who compete to build large-sized structures, construct basic electronic circuits and using pulleys, motors, gears, wheels and axles to invent machines capable of simple tasks. Students have to use practical maths to solve problems and undertake unusual and fun experiments, all without consulting ‘Google’, Northpower’s principal engineer Russell Watson says.

“What I liked about it was that it was hands on… the students had to work it out themselves,” he says. “I was impressed with the intensity of the participants. It was a three hour competition and they were flat out the whole time. I thought they would have been really tired by 8pm but they had energy throughout and were very focused. What I’ve learnt from this event is that the best way to solve problems is to give it to a young person! The more we can see EPro8 in Northland schools the better.”

Twelve students from Mangawhai Beach School, including Year 5 & 6 students, Zoe Farmer, Sophie Higgins, Carden Kidd and Taryn Strong, competed in the recent EPro8 event, a challenge to encourage schoolchildren’s engineering and problem solving potential.

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