Ranui Sustainable invites students to build robots

Innovative thinking and kiwi ingenuity a powerful combination

Northland, New Zealand – 30 May 2016

Chris Clay Innovator
Chris Clay at Mangakahia Area School

Award winning innovator Chris Clay and Ranui Sustainable met with more than 70 Northland school students on May 27 to show them how to design, build, programme and even race robots.

As part of Ranui Sustainable’s Kiwi Innovator Series which aims to connect Northlanders with New Zealand’s best thinkers in sustainable innovation, Mr Clay visited Bream Bay College and Mangakahia Area School. His mission was to prove that building a robot requires innovation and resourcefulness above money and expensive equipment.

“For the last few years I’ve been playing with all kinds of robotic bits and bobs and exploring how and why kids might create with them. During this time I’ve developed an appreciation for how expensive it is for schools to invest in robotics kits,” said Mr Clay.

As a result of his exploration Mr Clay has developed a kit that lets children build and code their own robot for less than $30. The critical components needed to make a robot can be sourced cheaply, opening the chance to learn robotic science to everyone.

“The notion that science and technology is expensive and something for ‘gifted’ kids is fundamentally wrong,” Mr Clay said. “Traditional school robot kits can cost around $500. I’ve figured out how to do the same thing for $30. I’m not trying to sell robots. I just wanted to show that it could be done.”

Auckland-based, Mr Clay welcomed the opportunity to bring his robots to Northland.

“The North is a place where resourcefulness and innovation can go a long way. I was very impressed with the students I met. Given the opportunity to be innovative, create and solve problems for themselves, it’s amazing what students can deliver. ”

Ranui Sustainable chief executive Martin Knoche said in organising the event he was impressed with the huge interest shown by schools and businesses in Northland for robotics, science and innovation.

“It’s been great having Chris in Northland and we’re astounded by the enthusiasm and talent we’ve seen at Bream Bay College and Mangakahia Area School. Northland produces its fair share of innovative kiwis and we hope more young people in the region consider careers in sustainable innovation.”

The free Kiwi Innovator Series workshops, which run monthly, are open to all and designed to encourage Northland youth to think seriously about directing their intelligence and enthusiasm towards careers that will have a positive effect on the planet. Click here to see a short video snapshot of Chris Clay’s visit to Northland.


Francis Stevens
External Communications
+ 64 (0) 21 0881 6646

About Ranui Sustainable
In the Maori language, Ra means “the sun” or “big sail” and Nui means “big”. At Ranui Sustainable we feel this is an appropriate metaphor. Our business is about channelling skills and resources needed to propel Northland forward as winds of change gather. Increasing pressure on our environment is forcing the world to take proactive steps toward a sustainable economy. Ranui Sustainable is working with partners and businesses in Northland to leverage this change in a way that will help the region build a sustainable future. Our mission is to make Northland the most sustainable region in the Southern Hemisphere by 2025.

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