Sunnyhills Primary winner of Space Race in NZ

Sunnyhills Primary winning team with teacher Angela Lee (right), Bruce Jackson (right) and Ronel Schodt of Kai’s Clan. Times photo Farida Master

Sunnyhills Primary School has won the NZ Space Race Award for creation of an immersive Mars project.

Sunnyhills Primary School teacher Angela Lee was surprised when Kai’s Clan founder Bruce Jackson and colleague Ronel Schodt turned up at a school assembly to announce that the Sunnyhills’ team had won the New Zealand Space Race Award.

The award-winning Kai’s Clan STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) toolbox integrates features such as collaborative/multiplayer coding, augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence and physical adventure mats with virtual worlds over-laid.

Sunnyhills students developed 3D characters and coded their own project based on the NASA Mars 2020 ‘Launch of Perseverance’.

From landing on Mars to building a habitat, finding aliens, dealing with a fire and creating a defence base, they did it all. Once the mission was completed, they boarded their rocket ship and took off from Mars and headed back to earth.

“There were 50 entries from all over New Zealand, from primary, intermediate and secondary schools. It’s really creditable that this primary school is the proud winner,” says Jackson, a tech nerd who created Kai’s Clan three years ago.

Denise Wright, NASA Solar System Ambassador, congratulated Sunnyhills Primary School for their win. “Your project showed true innovation in coding, unique design involving 3D printing, and the incredible use of augmented reality.

“These exact skills are needed for future STEM careers at NASA. I want to encourage you to continue your journey of studying robotics, coding, and space. Keep reaching for the stars, again. Congratulations on this outstanding achievement.”