This article was published on 20 November 2018
A new in-school programme - The Wonder Project - is set to blast off to New Zealand schools next year. It is one of several programmes Callaghan Innovation supports driving STEM and enterprise skills in young people.
The Wonder Project, run by Engineering New Zealand, is all about getting young Kiwis excited about a career in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It's designed to spark wonder in these subjects among students from all backgrounds, build confidence, and have them believe they achieve amazing things.
With the announcement, comes the call-out for schools and professionals to be involved in 2019. Chief Executive of Engineering New Zealand, Susan Freeman-Greene, says now is a better time than ever to sign up.
“In New Zealand, there is a massive skills shortfall in STEM - we simply don’t have enough young people pursuing careers in these fields. The Wonder Project aims to change that - taking our tamariki on a creative, dynamic and, most importantly, fun STEM journey.”
The Wonder Project includes three successive programmes that knit seamlessly into the school curriculum. Each school is supported by a team of industry professionals, from the likes of Rocket Lab, Air New Zealand and various engineering organisations around New Zealand.
Susan continues, “We call this amazing team our Wonder Project Ambassadors. They take an hour or so out of their working week help teachers, mentor students on the Wonder Project journey, and inspire them to achieve similar feats.”
The news comes as Engineering New Zealand wraps up a pilot involving 22 schools in the Wonder Project Rocket Challenge – the first programme of the Wonder family. This Challenge sparks initial wonder in STEM amongst students in Year 5-8 and involves designing, building, refining and launching a water rocket.
As part of the pilot, schools created a short video that reflected what they’d learned – from Newton’s laws to the engineering design process, to working as a team. The videos were judged by a panel of three, including representatives from Engineering New Zealand, Callaghan Innovation and Rocket Lab. The winning school received Wonder Project Rocket Challenge medals at a special ceremony last week.
Programme Manager for Callaghan Innovation, and judge for the Final Blast Off Challenge, Colm Kearney, says he was astounded by the quality of video entries.
"It was an absolute joy judging the Final Blast Off Challenge for the Wonder Project pilot. The entries were funny, creative and of a professional standard - they ticked our Wonder Project boxes - inspiring young Kiwis to think about STEM, building confidence, and having a great time along the way!
Callaghan Innovation is looking forward to thousands more Kiwi kids experiencing Wonder Project as part of the official nationwide roll-out next year."
STEM professionals and school representatives can register their interest at www.wonderproject.nz. Engineering New Zealand has a goal of reaching 200 schools across the country in the Wonder Project’s inaugural year.
Become a Wonder Project Ambassador or Wonder School today - register interest at wonderproject.nz