Six Napier school students arrived home this morning with a second-place trophy from an international Lego science and robotics competition in California.
The team from Lucknow School and Mayfair School created a robotic device, as well as a reality film for astronauts while they're in space, for the Lego League International event.
Jimmy August, captain of the NZ Black Bots, says, "Our project was 'how do astronauts keep in touch with family when they are not with them?' and we found that using virtual reality in zero gravity it feels like you're at home because you're just floating around."
Lucknow principal Brendan White introduced robotics to both schools and now they are using programmes such as turning, driving and sensing to communicate with robots.
August says, "We started with just easy mazes to complete with our robots and then they became more complex, and then we finally moved up to the big table that we compete on today."
It has been a thrilling five months for these young geniuses whose hard work has paid off.
White says, "We went overseas in the hope that we would learn and get better from the experience, and we ended up doing incredibly well and getting a second-place trophy."
The team qualified for the Lego League competition last December when they took out the national robotics competition here in New Zealand.
"They were students from two schools that came together to collaborate, and extend their experience and skillset and their knowledge, and share with each other to move the team to the next level," says White.
Despite the difficulties with securing funding for this trip, the team and whānau members made it work.
Teiti Hapuku, from Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Tahinga, says, "The technology world is the new world for these people outside of school. They don't really know the importance of the technology world for the children of today, therefore, the technology world and the world we live in now is for our children."
This is a first international experience for some of these students. It's an experience they will cherish forever, in the hope that this has opened up another door for them.