Sustainability comes out on top at 2016 ASB Bright Sparks

Tools to measure paua and pollution show that sustainability was the theme of the innovations of the two supreme winners at the 2016 ASB Bright Sparks Awards.

A South Island teenager and an Auckland-based student have won supreme innovator titles at the 2016 ASB Bright Sparks awards.

Mitchell Hollows, 17, of Balclutha, was named supreme innovator after inventing a laser tool that he hopes will save the lives of thousands of native paua. A keen fisherman, Hollows has been diving for paua for a couple of years – and it was on a fishing trip that he discovered paua are haemophiliac and can be damaged by physical measuring, which is the traditional method of measuring a catch. This inspired him to develop the Koru Paua Tool, a laser that measures paua in a non-invasive way to help preserve their fishing beds.

Mitchell Hollows.

Hollows says he hopes the tool will boost the paua population and help save the species. “Being able to pop off paua is part of our Kiwi culture – and I’d hate to see that go.”

Co-winner Mikayla Stokes, 15, created the Pollution Sensor. The device monitors how pollution changes in different areas around Stokes’ hometown of Auckland. After seeing smoky trucks on the roads, Stokes says she wanted to find ways to reduce pollution in her city.

She says she’s thrilled with her win. “ASB Bright Sparks has been really helpful with providing resources and has been a great way to meet new people,” she explains. “I really like the forum and the overall community.”

Mikayla Stokes.

The Skills Organisation chief executive Garry Fissenden says this year’s crop of winners are nothing if not impressive. “This year’s finalists should be very proud of themselves and what they’ve achieved,” he explains. “It’s exciting to see the quality of the entries increasing each year.”

ASB’s executive general manager for technology and innovation, Russell Jones, says he’s also impressed. “The Skills Organisation and ASB share a focus on youth and innovation, and this year has proven to be a very successful one for the competition,” he says. “It’s great to see more of our young people getting involved in technology and innovation, and see female participation grow year-on-year, too.” 

Full list of winners at the 2016 ASB Bright Sparks Awards

Category

Project Name

Student

School

Age

Science - Senior

Augmented Reality Sandbox

Lachlan Fordyce

Albany Senior High School

16

Science - Junior

Visual Plane Locating System

Benjamin Mueggenburg

Whangaparaoa College

12

Engineering - Senior

Koru Paua Tool

Mitchell Hollows

South Otago High School

17

Engineering – Junior

Grip Tech            

Hayden Schmidt

Long Bay College

13

Software - Senior

Ignite   

Amelia Cordwell and Lana Cleverly

Wellington East Girls’ College

Both 17

Software – Junior

RATS     

Aaron Nelson

Balmacewen Intermediate

11

Environmental - Senior

STOP!   

Alvin Li

Burnside High School

17

Environmental - Junior

Speed Wyz II

Cole Anderson

Tauranga Intermediate

12

Best Concept Junior

Visual Plane Locating System

Benjamin Mueggenburg

Whangaparaoa College

12

Best Concept Senior

STOP!   

Alvin Li

Burnside High School

17

People's Choice

Torpedo

Ben Fletcher

Long Bay College

15

Supreme Female

Pollution Sensor              

Mikayla Stokes

Western Springs College

15

Supreme Male

Koru Paua Tool 

Mitchell Hollows

South Otago High School

17