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21 January 2022

Kids in the South Wairarapa and Carterton districts are getting a chance these holidays to acquire some top-level robotics skills from Victoria University.

The university’s engineering department and Wairarapa Library Service are joining forces to hold four free workshops for kids 10 years and up with the Mars Rover as its theme.

Scott Ogilvie, the library service’s STEM coordinator, said he connected with the university while planning another recent workshop on 3-D printing.

He was put in touch with Pravin Vaz, an outreach coordinator for the university’s school of engineering and computer science, and things went from there.

During the session, Pravin will show participants a scaled down replica of the Mars Rover Curiosity and teach them how to program smaller robot rovers so they behave like they would on Mars.

“We’ll ask questions like ‘What are the tools they have and how do they navigate the difficult terrain on Mars? Who drives the rovers and how are they controlled? We’ll have a korero and a test with some demonstration rovers that they will code to traverse around a simulated Mars landscape,” Pravin says.

Scott says anyone over 10 can come. “Teens are more than welcome. A lot of the classes Pravin runs are run in high schools.”

Workshops are limited to 15 people each, but spaces are still available. They will be held on

  • Tuesday 25 January at Carterton (10am-11.30am) and Greytown libraries (1pm-2.30pm), and
  • Wednesday 26 January at Martinborough (10am-11.30am) and Featherston (1pm-2.30pm) libraries.

Scott, who was a science educator for 10 years at Te Papa, hopes it’s the first collaboration of many with the university and STEM organisations.

Note: Those over 12 years 3 months are required to show a vaccine pass. Parents are welcome to stay and observe.

For media: Photographers are welcome to attend a workshop by contacting WLS libraries manager Annette Beattie at annette@wls.org.nz or 027 391 5595.

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