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Current as of 21/10/14 07:40PM NZST

Students win $20,000 for broadband plans

A competition designed to get young people thinking about the benefits of ultra-fast broadband has netted ten students $2000 each.

A $1.35 billion government initiative will see 75 per cent of New Zealanders connected to ultra-fast broadband (UFB) by 2020.

In light of this, Telecom has just run its first 'Amazing Ideas Search', asking school students to suggest ways that UFB will improve their lives.

Winning ideas included an online method for carrying out health assessments for patients living in rural areas, and virtual training for professional athletes.

Bethany Watson, one of two winners from Christchurch, proposed starting a website for young people to post photos and thoughts on how everyday life, news, and disasters were affecting them.

"I got inspired by Tumblr and Flickr and thought that this would be a great opportunity for young people to share their opinions through photos," she said.

The judges said her idea had application for helping individuals and communities work through natural disasters.

Three of the winners were from Katikati College, in the Bay of Plenty.

Lucy Douglas, 13, came up with an idea that enabled people to scan a 3D model of themselves into a computer and then seek medical care and advice online.

"Doctors could talk to patients over a computer and there can be 3D examinations and patients can stay with their families while they recover," she said.

"I was inspired by the endless possibilities UFB could bring. I wanted to create something to help health and science."

New Zealand is now past its first year of a nine-year rollout of UFB, said Telecom head of retail Chris Quin.

"Our judges were really impressed by the energy and creativity the entrants displayed. It's also really encouraging to see such incredible innovation from such young people."

Carried out in term three, the competition called on primary, intermediate and secondary pupils for ideas which were required to have UFB at their core.

Educational expert John Langley, one of the judges, said New Zealand young people were "operating under a different set of assumptions and paradigms than previous generations".

"They're also adopting technology faster than previous generations."

The government aims to bring faster broadband to 97.8 per cent of New Zealanders through two initiatives - the Ultra-Fast Broadband Initiative and the Rural Broadband Initiative.

See some video entries on youtube:

Title: Open new possibilities into the hosting industry
Student: Joshua Harrington
School: Hargest College

Title: The Fish Story
Student: Jennifer Forrest
School: Southland Girls High School

Title: Future Awaits
Students: Ashley Beaton, Mary Betham ,Greer Collinson,Jennifer Forrest , Bayley Gibson, Keegan Manson , Meghan Pink , Ana Salesa-Henry , Chanelle Scarlett-Hammond , Zoe Smith, Ellice Soper
School: Southland Girls High School

- nzherald.co.nz

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