Happi the MBot finds a new home

Have you heard of the annual Engineering Expo at Te Papa Museum in Wellington? The expo introduces visitors to real-world engineering projects and new innovations through interactive activities. To help encourage young people to get involved with programming at the 2017 event, Solnet team members volunteered to giveaway an MBot as part of a competition.

The MBot was assembled by Daniel Frentz, one of Solnet’s expert software engineers, who created and programmed Happi in about 10 minutes. (Daniel loves fun side projects like these and could not wait to review the programs written by the kids!) 

Happi moves forwards, backwards and turns around. It can sense when there is an obstacle in its path and it can follow lines using its light and colour sensor.

The competition requirements to win our friendly MBot were:

  • write a program using any development tool and

  • submit the entry for evaluation by the Solnet Engineering Expo team.

After carefully reviewing the entries, the team selected the winning programme, “Cat Smash,” created by 10-year-old, Kyle. The goal of the game is to manoeuvre a cat back and forth in order to avoid being — you guessed it — smashed.  

Daniel felt the game was rather impressive given the age of the developer as the program uses several complex concepts such as timing, collision detection and scorekeeping all at once.

To design Cat Smash, Kyle used Scratch. The application lets users program by stacking code like building blocks. Can you guess what Kyle’s favourite part of building the program was? Smashing cats, of course! (Kyle seems to be more of a dog person at this stage!)

On November 29, 2017, Daniel and the Solnet team were pleased to award Happi to Kyle during morning tea at our Wellington office. 

Kyle and Happi the MBot

Daniel’s advice for Kyle going forward is to follow his passion and to continue exploring different aspects of engineering and IT. Perhaps the most important piece of advice Kyle received from Daniel is not to give up when things seem challenging.

Kyle and his brother, Reece, are both enthusiastic about programming. Their parents, Rina and Edwin, come from computer programming backgrounds and nurtured their children’s interest by teaching them more about programming languages and tools such as HTML, Javascript and C#. 

Congratulations, Kyle! We hope you and Happi share many adventures!