Thanks to all of you who have worked with us to share your stories. We know it’s not always easy to come up with a text that balances accuracy with being easy for young people to understand, and is engaging while maintaining your professional image.
We’d also like to acknowledge all the Ambassadors whose stories we haven’t (yet) told. We’ll be writing more profiles in the coming months, and continuing to prioritise stories about less well-known qualification pathways and job roles, and under-represented regions, genders and ethnicities.
Last year we supported the Hello Café pilot, which was developed by Massey University School of Engineering's Professor Jane Goodyer with a grant from the Government's Unlocking Curious Minds fund.
The workshop series teaches problem-solving and teamwork skills while looking at humanitarian and sustainable development issues. This context is attractive to young people who want to make the world a better place, and also counters the perception of engineering as being a bit of a ‘boy thing’.
Hello Café workshops are free and targeted at girls aged 10-14 from lower socio-economic backgrounds, where they are less likely to have had prior exposure to engineering as a career option. Futureintech Ambassadors who are female engineers and/or scientists lead each session and act as role models. They introduce themselves and talk about their jobs, deliver the supplied Hello Café presentation, and help with the activity.
We’re running a six session version of the programme this year, with six workshops covering:
The first workshops took place this week, with both Ambassadors and girls thoroughly enjoying making mud bricks. At Northcross Intermediate School, the teacher commented that the girls were totally engaged all the way through the workshop – very impressive considering that they had already had a full day of school!
We're looking forward to running the workshop series in more schools in 2018, so if you’re a female engineer and interested in helping with Hello Café (or other similar programmes) please contact your Facilitator.
Photo caption: Ambassadors Maria Eliza from Watercare with students at McAuley High School (left) and Aileen McKinstry from Markplan Consulting at Northcross Intermediate School (right).
The Adopt-a-Scientist initiative at Lincoln High School, now in its fifth year, is an enrichment programme for Year 9 students. They work on a project that interests them, usually with a community or conservation focus, and are paired with a local researcher with relevant expertise.
Comments from students include “it allowed us to encounter new and beneficial learning experiences”, “we could begin to relate our scientific ideas to everyday life” and “it’s given us the opportunity to learn how lab skills can be applied in real life”.
“The effect on students has been inspiring,” says science teacher Dr Rose Travis. “It has raised both community engagement and classroom focus.” She notes that the mentors’ guidance is more effective than school-based teaching and laboratory work alone.
“Having the opportunity to work alongside professionals who are able to explain their personal journey into different science professions is eye opening for many Year 9 students. It has opened up many pathways they were unaware of.”
Bird counts, leaf litter, a container home and seashore communities
The 'adopted' scientists encourage and support their students over a five-month period. This longer term interaction introduces students to the collaboration that is essential in the research world. As well as working with the students at school, the scientists accompany them on field trips as they carry out their investigations.
Many of the scientists involved are also Futureintech Ambassadors. Sarah Jackman, a science technician from AgResearch, returned this year for her third year as a mentor. She worked with students investigating bird numbers at a recently established local park. The students surveyed the birds and compared numbers with a count done the previous year. Using this information will allow them to work out if the park has made a difference for birds.
Rebecca Dollery, an environmental scientist from Lincoln University, mentored students who were researching wildlife in a local reserve. She helped them read animal tracks, enter data into a spreadsheet and analyse leaf litter samples as they monitored invertebrates and their predators.
Structural engineer Aaron Kaijser from Structex worked with two students designing a container home to fit two people. Marine ecologist Chris Woods, from NIWA was adopted by two groups, who investigated the differences between rocky shore and sandy shore communities.
The Ambassadors have been invited to an event in November where the students will present their projects.
Like the Profile Explorer for Ambassadors’ stories that we added earlier this year, the Employer Explorer webpage provides students with more interactive ways to engage with the large amount of STEM careers information that we offer.
The idea is to help young New Zealanders picture where they could be employed – assuming they get a relevant tertiary qualification in technology, engineering or science, of course.
The Employer Explorer allows students to select a focus like 'making things' or 'helping communities', learn about what different employers offer – such as international travel or professional development – and find out about the qualification areas that they're looking for.
Browse Employer profiles at www.futureintech.org.nz/explorer/employers.cfm
Browse Ambassador profiles at www.futureintech.org.nz/explorer/people.cfm
Interested in getting your company or organisation added to our collection of employer profiles? Got comments or suggestions about these new pages (or the Futureintech website generally)? Please email our writers, Madeleine and Megan, at email@example.com or call (04) 473 2026
The group of four Year 12 Technology students are working on the machine as their CREST project – an international awards scheme that encourages students to be innovative, creative and problem-solve in science, technology and environmental studies.
Brooke is enthusiastic about mentoring the Technohackers and she’s guiding them through the same technological process used in her role as a process technologist at Fonterra-Maungaturoto.
“They’ve definitely inspired me!” Brooke says. “It’s a very ambitious project, and they have to think about every aspect, such as how they construct the machine and develop the software needed to run it. It’s exciting, and they’re having a lot of fun doing it.”
In common with many Ambassadors, Brooke hadn’t ever considered a career in engineering until her Year 13 Physics teacher suggested it. She therefore enjoys the opportunities to talk to students and promote engineering “especially to young women.”
“Being an Ambassador is so fulfilling because you can make a difference in people’s lives. Many girls don’t consider engineering, so having a female engineer talk about her job makes it more accessible to them,” she says.
“Ambassador visits don’t take too much time, and are a really positive experience. Fonterra is very supportive of my involvement, which makes it easy.”
Technology teacher Rebecca Maunder says the students have been fortunate to have Brooke helping to extend and challenge their design ideas.
“She not only provides support, encouragement and inspiration, but is able to work with a diverse, extremely chatty bunch of girls with some crazy ideas,” she says.
“Brooke is always willing to share her knowledge and expertise, and has provided an industry insight that we cannot do in the classroom.”
Student Alvin Cortez says she has learnt a lot, including about robotics and new technologies that she hadn’t known existed. “Our minds have been opened to new ideas, opportunities and experiences.”