Sustainability comes out on top at 2016 ASB Bright Sparks

A South Island teenager and an Auckland-based student have won supreme innovator titles at the 2016 ASB Bright Sparks awards announced at the ASB Cube in Wynyard Quarter on November 1.

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, Mitchell has been diving for paua for a couple of years. It was on a fishing trip that he discovered paua are haemophiliac and can be damaged by physical measuring – the traditional method of measuring catch.

This inspired him to develop the Koru Paua Tool - a laser that measures paua in a non-invasive way to help preserve paua fishing beds.

Mitchell 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,” Mitchell says.

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

In her first year entering ASB Bright Sparks, Mikayla has found the environment supportive and is looking forward to taking on the challenge and entering again next year.

“ASB Bright Sparks has been really helpful with providing resources and has been a great way to meet new people. I really like the forum and the overall community,” Mikayla 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,” Mr Fissenden says.

“It’s exciting to see the quality of the entries increasing each year. The Skills Organisation is proud to partner with ASB to provide this platform for New Zealand’s future tech leaders,” Mr Fissenden says.

ASB Executive General Manager Technology and Innovation Russell Jones is delighted with the success of ASB Bright Sparks this year, ASB’s first year supporting the programme.

“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. 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,” Mr Jones says.

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