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Congratulations to all Skills Bright Sparks winners

Fri, 8th Nov 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The winners of the Skills Bright Sparks 2019 Awards have been announced, with grand prizes going to the young minds behind an app that allows families to control the time spent in the shower, and an app designed to help those who are visually impaired or colour blind to ‘read' colours.

Overall Best Female Agam Aharon, a Year 8 student from Ponsonby Intermediate School, created Spectro Scanner, which is a device that can be used to ‘read' colours to people who are visually impaired or colour blind.

Aharon says her mother works with special needs children, who gave her the inspiration to create the device. The device can read out the colours of items, like clothing.

“I thought of a way that I could help these children's lives be a bit easier,” she says.

Overall Best Male Adam Smith, a Year 13 student at Cashmere High School, created his Waterwise shower app because he and his family were tired of his sister taking showers for too long.

“The app also provides parents with a tool to control the amount of water used by the shower. So that provides insights on the impact that water and shower usage have on the environment.

Aharon and Smith will receive a personalised tour of Skills Bright Sparks' sponsor Rocket Lab's mission control facility – and the opportunity to witness a ‘hotfire' test of its Rutherford rocket engines.

There was also a Special Award for Health - Wellbeing, which was awarded to Will Waters, a Year 10 student at Otumoetai College. He created an app called Lifeboat that is designed to help those who suffer from depression or anxiety to build up the courage to ask for help. Waters designed the app because he himself suffers from anxiety and he wanted to do something to address New Zealand's high suicide rate.

Skills Group CEO Garry Fissenden adds that it was exciting to see so many female finalists this year.

“Of those who then placed in our awards for 2019, just under half were female. That's a real indication that girls are recognising how exciting STEM subjects can be and that there are some great career options there for them.


Overall Best Female – Agam Aharon, Ponsonby Intermediate School (Year 8): Spectro Scanner

Overall Best Male – Adam Smith, Cashmere High School (Year 13): Waterwise App

People's Choice Award – Angelina Yang, Northcross Intermediate (Year 7): Table Tennis serving machine made from Lego

Top Junior Bright Spark – James Avenell, Alexandra Primary School (Year 8): Weed Killing Robot

Top Senior Bright Spark – Bert Downs, Te Awamutu College (Year 12): Extend Virtual Reality


Special Award: Health - Wellbeing – Will Waters, Otumoetai College (Year 10) : Lifeboat app for encouraging those with depression or anxiety to seek help

Special Award: Outstanding Engineering – Angelina Yang, Northcross Intermediate (Year 7): Table Tennis serving machine made from Lego

Special Award: Robotics – Thomas James, Burnside High School (Year 12): Wheelie Drive v.2

Special Award: Software – Brian Kitchen, Western Springs College (Year 10): Raspberry Fly, 3D scanner for modelling caves

Special Award: Originality – Matthew Shepherd, Taradale High School (Year 13): Scratch Pack automated back scratcher to alleviate back pain.

Emerging Potential – Jasmine Jared, Rangitoto College (Year 10): eBackpack.

Sponsors of the Skills Bright Sparks competition included Rocket Lab, ASB, Datacom, Shift, NZ Print, Microsoft and NZTE.

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