Wren Brudvik-Lindner (14), Amy Cornelisen from Ministry of Inspiration, Malika Rai (14) and Moana Williams (10), test out their aquabots at the Richmond Aquatic Centre. Photo: Kate Russell.

Funds needed for underwater ‘bots’


A local underwater robotics programme is seeking funding to continue to teach school children about science, engineering and technology in a “hands-on” way.

NZ AquaBots is the first programme of its kind in the country and is run by Ministry of Inspiration – a Nelson-based charitable trust that reaches over 2000 students annually.

The trust is a nominee for this year’s Car Company’s Charity Drive, which sees $10,000 up for grabs for community organisations.

Amy Cornelisen from Ministry of Inspiration says it would be “huge” for them to receive some of the money.

“Currently, we run at a loss. It’s grown exponentially and with more funding we could impact more students.”

Rhys and Griffn Barak, 9, with their aquabot. Photo: Harri Jordan
Rhys and Griffn Barak, 9, with their aquabot. Photo: Harri Jordan

Aquabots are remotely operated, tethered, underwater vehicles designed and built by students from a supplied kit, who then form teams to compete in local and national competitions.

Amy says they would use the funds to purchase aquabot kits to pass on to students, so that money is not a barrier to learning.

“We need up to $5000 to be able to offer 22 aquabot kits (equalling 110 students) and mentorship to those that cannot afford it and don’t have access to a pool to practice in.

“If we buy the kits directly from the USA, they are around $280, but if we apply for grants and receive donations, we can build our own here for $160.”

The cost to hire the pool for competitions also does not come cheap at over $2000.

Nelson Central School student Moana Williams, 10, has been involved in the programme for the past year and says it has taught her about science and technology “in a fun way”.

“I like the building part of it, and things like the underwater maze and going through hoops.”

The Car Company’s Charity Drive launched earlier this month and local organisations are invited to apply until 6 April.

Application forms are available here or at Car Company branches in Nelson, Richmond and Tahunanui.