Ambassadors visit Antarctic activities at Ara

News News & events

05 Oct 2017

Ara is conducting a week of Antarctic-themed, interactive school holiday programmes, and some high profile, international visitors stopped by to investigate this and a new photographic exhibition Lessons From The Arctic - How Roald Amundsen Won The Race To The South Pole.

On Thursday 5 October at 12.30pm, ambassadors and high commissioners from nine of the countries involved in Antarctica visited the Antarctic Ecobots programme at Ara. Their visit to Christchurch was hosted by Antarctica NZ.

Antarctic Ecobots is a free interactive workshop for year 9 and 10 students on 4 and 5 October. The focus in this workshop is to build a robot that can tackle dangerous environmental tasks using maths, physics and computer skills, utilising VEX IQ Robots and MBots that then compete to win the ‘Antarctic Mission’.

After learning about Antarctic science, including microbiology, glaciation, the effects of global warming and the damage it does to the environment, participants learn what robots can contribute in this environment and then build an ecobot robot.

Earlier in the week was Mission to Antarctica, a free engineering programme on 2 and 3 October for Years 9-11, exploring solutions for living in an inhospitable place.

Mission to Antarctica school holiday programme participants build a geodesic habitat.

Participants use engineering and architectural design principles and 3D printing to build geodesic habitats and energy systems for survival, and learn how to live in harmony with this unique and fragile environment.

The habitat created would also harness solar and wind energy and protect humans from radiation, cold, wind and extreme isolation – no small challenge, says Ara STEM Coordinator Miranda Sattherthwaite.

“Providing a substantial challenge raises the engagement of the participants as they strive to use design thinking, learning and resources to create solutions. There are many inhospitable places on the planet, each with their own challenges. This programme, run in collaboration with Fablab, gets participants thinking about how humans can exist in such places. Using the tools of engineering and broadens their understanding of what can be accomplished,” she said.

Engineering comes into many aspects of life near the south pole such as navigation, wearable technology and the science of Antarctic glaciology.

Miranda is seeing more and more robotics in learning in New Zealand and this is coming through to competitions as well.

Later in the year, she will help to judge the biggest robotics competition ever held in the Southern Hemisphere in Rotorua in December - the Asia Pacific VEX Robotics Competition 2017 .

Ara uses innovative technology such as robotics, modelling and 3D printing to engage students in science, technology, engineering and science. School holiday programmes in these areas help students to broaden their awareness, start thinking about possible careers and check out study options and pathways - plus they are a lot of fun and free.