One of the country's most popular competitions for young inventors has had a very slight name change – and it's also bringing the folks at Rocket Lab on board.
The Skills Bright Sparks competition (formerly Bright Sparks competition) gives primary and secondary school students to put their minds at work on science, technology, engineering, art, and maths (STEAM) innovation.
This year is easily one of the most exciting for the competition, as the team behind homegrown rocket and satellite company Rocket Lab comes on board.
The partnership between Skills Bright Sparks and Rocket Lab will bring in Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck to help judge the competition. Winning students will also get a personal tour of Rocket Lab's rocket factory and Mission Control as well as the chance to watch a hotfire test of its Rutherford rocket engines.
Beck says it's a great way for Rocket Lab to encourage young Kiwis to consider careers in space exploration and innovation.
“I've been fascinated with space ever since I was a kid but when I was at school, I was told to be ‘realistic' and bring my ideas back down to Earth,” says Beck.
“I'm grateful I had the encouragement to ignore that advice and follow my dreams instead, and I want to support our next generation to do the same by opening up access to space for everyone - including passionate and innovative kids across the country.
The competition originally launched in 1998. Since then, the number of entries has grown every year. Previous winners have gone on to secure jobs with the likes of Google, Instagram, IBM, Rex Bionics and Fisher - Paykel Healthcare.
The competition is also expanding its categories to accommodate the breadth of design concepts that participants are bringing forward.
“This year we are adding a specific coding category as this is something that has grown at great speed in New Zealand schools,” says Skills CEO Garry Fissenden.
The rebranding of Skills Bright Sparks also allows Skills to be the naming sponsor of an event it has now run for over 20 years.
“Skills has undergone a significant period of growth,” says Fissenden.
“We are New Zealand's largest industry trade organisation and are well known in trade and industry – so we just felt it was high time we branded the competition Skills Bright Sparks.
The Skills Bright Sparks competition is open to school students throughout New Zealand. Entries open on 26 August and close 27 September.
Skills Bright Sparks is sponsored by Rocket Lab, ASB, Datacom, Shift, NZ Print, Microsoft and NZTE.