A product capable of measuring water level in water tanks without having to manually check has won Year 11 student Zach Preston $1,250 for himself and a further $1,250 for his school, ACG Parnell College, at this year's Orion Health Codeworx challenge.

The national competition, run by NZX-listed health IT company Orion Health and open to secondary schools, has been running for three years now and Preston's project Water Worx was the winner for the individual category.

See the CodeWorx challenge here:

He said the idea for his project came from the large number of New Zealanders that relied on water tanks for their fresh water.

"Over 500,000 [New Zealanders] store and receive water from water tanks, but many standard tanks aren't very efficient," Preston said.

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"Most have tall and opaque designs meaning for those wanting to know their water level, they have to manually check it, but in such a technologically advanced age, why do people still have to waste unnecessary time and effort on this task," he said.

Students were given a 'Raspberry Pi' - a credit-card sized computer that helps with teaching computer science in schools. With the Pi, Preston has developed a small, portable device with a depth sensor that transmits information on the water level in a tank to the users phone or laptop.

Preston said he was planning to streamline the product and continue improving its design.

See Zach Preston's Water Worx project here:

Winners of the group category were students from Mount Aspiring College in Wanaka, Sean Dickey and Janus Staufenberg. Their project, Smart Valve, was also focused on water management, helping farmers to manage their water supplies more effectively, particularly during times of drought.

Smart Valve used data collected from the field, combined with weather forecast information from the internet to help farmers decide when and where to irrigate. Dickey and Staufenberg will each receive $750 as well as an additional $2,500 for their school.

David Leach, Orion Health senior vice president of intelligent integration and Codeworx judge, said the competition provided students with the opportunity to come up with solutions as well as try their hand at software development.

He said as demand for software developers grew worldwide, New Zealand had an opportunity to invest in its future talent through opportunities like Codeworx.

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