Rotorua students have spent the past few months designing and building aquatic robots to take part in Rotorua's first NZ AquaBots competition.

People are invited to go along to the Rotorua Aquatic Centre on Sunday to watch the AquaBots complete a series of challenges and see who will be crowned the winner.

NZ AquaBots is an underwater robotics programme for school-aged children in New Zealand.

Teams are formed from Years 5 to 13 students and aim to inspire students and help discover the next generation of Kiwi scientists and engineers while introducing potential engineering and robotics careers.


The 2019 Rotorua NZAquaBots Challenge will consist of three underwater competitions and a team presentation.

The challenges are a test of how well the students design, build, and operate their NZAquaBots.

The team presentation is a test of organisational and documentation capabilities which allows the students to showcase their design and demonstrate how well they can convey their engineering ideas and market their NZAquaBot.

The challenges will include completing the NZAquaBots Obstacle Course, a competition to retrieve the most balls, and finally, a competition called Te Arawa Navigation.

Panels of external judges from industry, government agencies and all education sectors, including tertiary level, will evaluate each challenge.

Rotorua Museum Education Team digital technology educator Jessica Wilkes says all the teams have worked hard over the past school term.

"I am really looking forward to seeing the different things that students have added to their robots to collect the balls during one of the competition challenges."

An Aquabot in the water. Photo / Supplied
An Aquabot in the water. Photo / Supplied

She says this is a great experience for students because they see the rewards for all their hard work.


"It teaches them teamwork to complete each challenge and they will need to support each other through uncertainty and manage failure.

"This is the first time these students have participated in an event like this and I think it may be the start of many students' engineering journeys."

She encourages people to go along and get inspired, learn about what is involved and how to get involved next year while seeing engineering principles in action.

"Who doesn't want to see robots underwater?"

The challenges are expected to finish about 2.30pm, with the presentation of prizes at 3pm.

The 2019 Rotorua NZAquaBots Challenge was made possible by support from Rotorua Museum, Rotorua Library, Ministry of Inspiration, Hayes International, Innovatek, Friends of Rotorua Library, Rotorua Aquatic Centre, Tompkins Wake, BayTrust and Unison.

The details
- What: The 2019 Rotorua NZAquaBots Challenge
- When: Sunday, September 15, 9am to 3pm
- Where: Rotorua Aquatic Centre
- Cost: Free

Participating schools
- Upper Atiamuri School
- Mokoia Intermediate School
- John Paul College
- Kaitao Intermediate School
- Rotorua Primary School
- Rotorua Girls High School
- St Michael's Catholic School
- Malfroy School
- Sunset Primary School
- Western Heights Primary School
- Hillcrest High School