ASB Bright Sparks winners announced

08 November 2017 / Published in Tech & Innovation

Two Auckland-based intermediate school students have won supreme innovator titles at the 2017 ASB Bright Sparks awards, a national technology and innovation competition open to intermediate and high school-aged students across New Zealand.

Brian Kitchen, of Auckland, was named supreme innovator after inventing a laser scanner that creates 3D models of lava caves. At just 13 years old, Brian has designed a scanner that can inform researchers about how big the cave is and its dimensions. The 3D scanner can see up to six meters and provides more reliable results than is currently available to the Auckland council.

 “We live in a city with heaps of lava caves, and I thought it’d be cool to have something that could make 3D models of all of them,” Brian says.

“My science tutor told me that Auckland council currently only have 2D drawings of Auckland’s lava caves, but need to upgrade to 3D where possible. My aim was to help build something that would help make this process easier for our council,” Brian says.

Co-winner Kate McIntosh, 12, created the Wireless Whistle to help hearing-impaired athletes play team sports. When the referee’s whistle is blown, the wireless whistle sends a signal to a vibrating wristband, notifying the wearer it is time to pause the game.

Kate says playing a game inspired her to create something that would help all players ‘hear’ the referee’s whistle. “We were playing water polo and my friend was sent off for playing past the whistle. It got me thinking – what would athletes do if they couldn’t hear properly? I wanted to create something that would help all players hear the whistle regardless of if they had perfect hearing or not,” Kate says.

The Skills Organisation chief executive Garry Fissenden congratulates each winner at this year’s ASB Bright Sparks. “This year’s finalists should be very proud of themselves and what they’ve achieved. The quality of entries continues to be outstanding,” Mr Fissenden says.

ASB head of innovation and commercialisation Leigh Angus says ASB is proud to be involved in a programme that nurtures and recognises brilliant young minds across New Zealand.

“This is the second year ASB has been involved in ASB Bright Sparks and we continue to be impressed at the creative thinking that goes into the entries,” Ms Angus says.

“ASB has a strong history of innovative firsts and we’re delighted to invite Kate and Brian back to ASB to take part in one of ASB’s key innovation exercises next month,” Ms Angus says.

Check out the two videos describing Brian Kitchen’s Xtionberry Pi and Kate McIntosh’s Wireless Whistle.

Full list of 2017 ASB Bright Sparks winners

Supreme Female

Kate McIntosh, age 12, Northcross Intermediate - Wireless Whistle

Supreme Male

Brian Kitchen, age 13, Ponsonby Intermediate - Xtionberry Pi

Engineering - Junior

Brian Kitchen, age 13, Ponsonby Intermediate - Xtionberry Pi

Engineering - Senior

Michael Hann, age 18, Papanui High School - TEMS

Software - Junior

Jasmine Jared, age 13, Northcross Intermediate - iSpeed

Software - Senior

Jack Breurkes, age 17, Burnside High School - Mobile Physics Game


Bill Campbell, age 13, Balmacewen Intermediate - Gamified Beep Test


Felix Backhouse, age 15, Burnside High School - Bird’s iView

Best Concept - Junior

Kate McIntosh, age 12, Northcross Intermediate - Wireless Whistle

Best Concept - Senior

Angus Lynch, age 17, Hobsonville Point Secondary School - The Runner Project

People's Choice

Dylan Townsend, age 17, Orimiston Senior College - Concussion Conundrum


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