When Donnis Harrison heard about Tahi Rua Toru Tech (123Tech), she knew it would be the perfect digital challenge for her students – little did she know, however, just how engaged they’d be and how successful it would prove.
I was looking for a way to extend students in the digital
technologies field, especially with the roll-out of the new Digital
Technologies Curriculum, when I first came across the 123Tech
Challenge in 2018.
The brief is for students to work in small groups to solve a problem
in the school or wider community. This sounded fun, engaging and
a good fit for my classroom, so we worked through the wonderful
resources created by the 123Tech Team, who are so supportive of
the students. This was a 12-week programme where students had
to document their journey through a blog shared with the judging
In Term 3 last year, we widened the brief from 123Tech and created
entries for the East Waikato Science Fair. The teams all placed.
From this, we entered three teams into the Regional 123Tech
Competition in week 1 of Term 4:
- Aztecs (Brooke Jamnaat, Maia Rohrlach, Georgia Eichlar and Abby Pope), who created a website, Tohutao-Tirohanga, to help students who are struggling to read recipes by making visual representations and incorporating Te Reo.
- The Thunderbolts (Finlay Richardson, Jaxon Wells and Jamie Edward) and their Moofit app, which aims to promote community fitness by encouraging users to move around Morrinsville and scan QR codes on the ‘Herd of Cows’ street art trail.
- MIS Drifts (Logan Kay, Rico Te Tai, Hamish Davison and Rhys Burke), who identified a need to get students reading more and created EzReadz, an app with their own content along with links to well established reading sites. (They also liaised with the Morrinsville Library, with the prospect of developing a purpose build app for the library in the future.)
We came out of the Regional Championships on top. I was shoulder
tapped by the judging panel saying they were impressed with the
high calibre of entries from Morrinsville Intermediate and that
they had struggled to choose a winner. It was the uniqueness of the
Moofit App that made it the overall winner.
Flights were soon booked to compete in the National
Championship at the TSB Bank Arena in Wellington. This was an
awesome day with workshops and visits to local tech companies
followed by the awards event.
And the winners are …
Team Thunderbolts were First Category winners! I was delighted
and super proud of the boys. They so deserved to win. It was an
The judges’ comments were that the app was an “inspiring solution,
which brought an excellent mix of technology and local initiative.”
The students each received $500 prize money, as well as $1,500
towards the purchase of technical equipment for their school.
As a teacher, I highly recommend the 123Tech programme. Anyone
can sign up to utilise the resources in your classroom even if you
are not going to enter. Once you have joined, you have access to all
the resources from Years 0 to 13. Start with the unplugged
resources to begin your DT journey and remember that you are
building an invaluable skill set, critical thinking, risk taking,
resilience and creativity.
I approach my teaching from the point of view that I am not the
font of all knowledge and, in this day and age, my role as an
educator is that of facilitator. With this success, I like to think I’m
doing something right!
I look forward to working with students in this year’s competition
and hope to get another team into the finals.
DONNIS HARRISON WAS ROBOTICS TEACHER AT MORRINSVILLE
INTERMEDIATE. THIS YEAR, SHE HAS TAKEN UP A NEW ROLE AS YEAR 7/8
CLASS TEACHER AT STANLEY AVENUE SCHOOL IN TE AROHA.
Creating the Moofit app by Finlay Richardson, Jaxon Wells and Jamie Edward.
How did you come up with the idea for the app?
Planning and development were very important, and the blog posts and excellent structure provided by the 123Tech documents made the process achievable. We collaborated ideas and thinking of everything we could. We finally decided that there are quite a few unfit people, especially around our age, as they seemed to be so attached to their devices. So, we decided to create a fitness app for in our township (Morrinsville).
We have a wonderful resource with the ‘Herd of Cows’ street art trail. These are large fibreglass cows dotted around our community. In fact, we discovered there are 60 and set out to develop a scavenger hunt based around the cows to get fit. Along the way, we also discovered how apps are not only easy and fun to use but also to develop your own.
What does it do and how does it work?
It helps you get fit and off the couch with your device going on a digital scavenger hunt. Once you’re in the game, Moofit gives a hint and picture for a cow’s location, then you go over to the right cow, and scan the QR code on it to earn points.
We planned through collaborating ideas and thinking of everything we could, designed and created using many app builders and websites, such as Appinstitute, IBuild, Enterprize apps, AppyPie, and Swiftic. In the end, we went to the competition using Appinsitute as our architecture.
What were the biggest challenges?
Finding our app builder and resetting multiple times. Another challenge came when we won the Regional competition and thought that AppInstitute would allow us to use multiple QR codes only to discover three days before we had a meeting with the Morrinsville Chamber of Commerce that it would only take one code for the whole hunt. We had to redevelop the whole Moofit App in one day using Actionbound as our architecture and meet with the Chamber of Commerce the same day to ask permission to add QR codes for our app to the ‘Herd of Cows’.
How did it feel to win?
Amazing and our hearts were racing. It was a bit overwhelming and took a while to sink in, especially as they named the winners of a different category for our category. So, when they announced us our supporters went wild! We were then in a special assembly at our school and in our local papers two weeks in a row. The Chamber of Commerce made a special presentation to us and put us on a float in the Santa Parade. It was really exciting.
What are your plans for the app?
We have already installed 20+ QR codes around town, so the app is live. We have up to 45 QR codes printed; we just need to get together to install these soon. We have paid for Actionbound for one year and hope we can recreate the app using Gamefroot when it goes live with QR codes this year.
And any thoughts for entering next year?
We want to enter next year but some of us are leaving, so we would be entering as a ‘coding club’. One idea is to incorporate a real-life reward system and work with local businesses, for example, so points might get you a free session at the gym or a coffee.
WHAT IS TAHI RUA TORU TECH (123TECH)?
This is a national, in-school digital technology challenge built around the previous TechHub CREST Challenge. Teams of 3-4 students use digital tools to solve a problem in their local school or community. More than 6,500 students took part in the challenge in 2019. Regional finals were held in 10 locations across New Zealand, with the winning teams going on to compete for fame and fortune (sharing $11,000 cash prizes) at the national finals in Wellington last December.
Find out more at 123tech.nz