Three grass karts built from scratch by 18 Otago Polytechnic Youth Guarantee Scheme students will be racing in the popular Southern Annual Grass Kart Challenge in Twizel this weekend.
Open to all secondary schools, polytechnics and institutes of technology in the South Island, the competition offers participants the chance to undertake an innovative, creative and engaging learning challenge followed by a fun weekend of racing.
Otago Polytechnic’s entrants are Youth Guarantee Scheme students aged between 16 and 18 who are learning engineering-based skills. The Scheme is a government-funded initiative to ensure educational opportunities for young people who are finding it difficult to stay engaged in the school system.
Split into three teams of six, the students have built and decorated their karts from the ground up. They will participate in three race categories: slalom, sprint and relay. They must also deliver a presentation about their karts in front of a panel of judges.
The entire experience is one Otago Polytechnic’s Engineering Trades Lecturer, Nick Moss, describes as incredibly worthwhile.
"You do see a change in them over the course of the project; they grow up a lot," he says. "These are people who don’t like sitting in a classroom. They enjoy making things happen and learning on their feet."
Nick Moss says many students finish their time on the Youth Guarantee Scheme course and then enrol for other Otago Polytechnic programmes, such as the Certificate in Automotive Engineering (Level 3).
"It really does build their confidence and reinforces that education can be more hands-on, project-focused and fun, too. The Grass Kart Challenge is a huge part of that."
The Southern Annual Grass Kart Challenge takes place in Twizel on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 September. Otago Polytechnic’s entrants and their karts will be making their way to Twizel on Friday morning.
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