Examples of how Futureintech Ambassadors can support Maths, Science, Technology and Careers teaching

Inspired by any of these stories? Contact your local Futureintech Facilitator to find out what great learning opportunities they can arrange for your students – while we can't guarantee a particular Ambassador or session, we will do our best to organise a visit that works for you.

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Food Technology and Dairy Science

Science; Technology ( Food ) | Years 7-8 | Waikato region | July 2017

Food technologist Sarah Jolly from Fonterra visited the Year 7/8 class at Hautapu School, where she trialled an activity from the upcoming Futureintech Pasture to Plate resource.

Sarah talked about food technology and dairy science, explaining how she applies them to her role as food safety and quality specialist at the Te Awamutu site. She then discussed the product development process and had the children make mozzarella cheese, followed by taste testing their product.

Deputy-principal Reshma Patel-Harman wanted to engage students with science in a real life context and motivate them for the Science Fair this year. She says Sarah instantly won the 34 children over with her warmth, storytelling and ability to include the audience in her presentation. “We would have her back anytime!”

Design and engineering in Technology classes

Technology | Years 11-13 | Christchurch region | July 2017

Mechanical engineer Richard Hunter from AIM Altitude visited Burnside High School where he talked to around 110 students over two sessions (four classes were split into two groups).

Richard talked to the Year 11-13 Technology students about the process he uses for designing aircraft interiors. Students could relate to this design process and see how it was directly applicable to their own project work. Students and teachers enjoyed Richard’s presentation, and there were quite a few questions at the end.

“Richard exceeded our expectations,” says John Creighton, HOD Technology. “The design approach way of thinking was superb. For some of the Year 12 students a light went on and they 'knew' what they wanted to do.”

Seven of the students will be working with an engineering mentor and entering their ambitious technology projects into the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards. For Year 13 students, these projects will also make up a significant part of their assessment for New Zealand Scholarship in Technology.

Photo: Mechanical engineer Richard Hunter tries out an aircraft interior designed by AIM Altitude. 

Engaging students with science and technology

Science ( Physics ) | Years 1-6 | South/East Auckland region | May 2017

Food technologist John Cox from ZeaGold was the second of three Ambassadors to visit Valley School this year as part of the Gifted and Talented Extension programme.

He spoke to 24 Year 2-6 students about his job then got the students to make their own product. Each group used a different recipe to make silly putty soap and had to work out how to change their mixture so that it could be shaped into a ball. The activity involved a lot of fun – and mess!

John used a hammer to show how using different energy would affect the silly putty – demonstrating the properties of a non-Newtonian fluid. This activity linked to the previous week’s visit when structural engineer Ross Yearbury from Blueprint Consulting Engineers had looked at force, tension and compression.

Teacher Marnie Loxton said the children were fascinated to learn about John’s job and how science is used in the world. “They enjoyed the activity that he prepared for them as it made them think, act and sound like scientists. There’s one word to sum up our session with John – inspirational”.

After the visit, Marnie continued the session by exploring another non-Newtonian fluid *oobleck, and the students designed a space rocket that could land in oobleck. “It was exciting to see one particular child use the knowledge he gained from the session and also transfer what he’d learnt the week before during Ross’s session on bridges.”

*Oobleck, a mixture of cornflour and water, has properties of both liquids and solids. 

Bridge in a bag

Science ( Physics ) | Years 7-8 | Waikato region | May 2017

Structural engineer Doreen Prasad from Cheal Consultants visited St Patrick’s Catholic School (Taupo) to help engage students with STEM education, using Futureintech’s Bridge in a Bag kit. She talked to the Year 7/8 class about what structural engineering is, and discussed some of the projects she’s involved in at work.

Doreen then brought out the wooden pieces from the kit and gave advice about concepts such as force, load, compression and tension as students constructed their own bridges.

Teacher Angela Moeke organised the visit and says, “The children loved it. They were engaged and had a lot of follow-up questions.”

Photo: Ambassador Doreen Prasad with students and the Bridge in a Bag kit.

See Futureintech's Classroom Resources page

Selective breeding and genomics

Science ( Biology ) | Years 11-13 | North Auckland region | May 2017

Birkenhead College teacher Alison Purdie requested an Ambassador visit for her Year 13 Biology class. The students were studying genetics and would be assessed against Achievement Standard 91607 – Demonstrate understanding of human manipulations of genetic transfer and its biological implications.

As there weren’t any Ambassadors available at that time to visit the school, Melissa Stephen from DairyNZ in Hamilton talked to the 28 students via Skype.

Melissa discussed selective breeding and genomics, and explained how she applies this knowledge in her role as a genetic evaluation developer.

“It was so relevant to the topic we were studying,” Alison says, “and also completely different for them to talk to someone involved in the practical application of what we are learning. It will be interesting to see if any of them consider going into a career in agriculture.”

Learning about careers in science

Science; Careers | Years 7-8 | Christchurch region | May 2017

The Year 7/8 cohort at Russley School (120 students) learnt about a variety of careers in science as part of their Science programme this year. Futureintech Ambassadors visited on separate occasions during Term 1 to talk about their roles in engineering, digital technologies and scientific research.

When researcher Phil Novis from Landcare Research visited, he talked about his career path and experience working as a scientist in Antarctica, and brought along Antarctica clothing for the students to try on.

Teacher Phil Innes said the visit went really well. “Phil was so organised with Antarctica clothing, and then spent 20 minutes doing experiments with water and lots of lab equipment. The children were really interested to see a real live scientist at work with equipment."

Combined Food Technology / Health & PE project

Technology ( Food ) | Years 11-13 | Waikato region | March 2017

Photo: Ari giving presentation to studentsFood technologist Ari Penberthy from Prolife Foods gave a presentation about new product development to Year 11 Food Technology students at Rototuna Senior High School. Afterwards, Ari and the students made baked oaty slices using dough he had brought from work.

Food Technology teacher Jenny Mangan and Health & PE teacher Anna-Marie Keighley are collaborating on a combined Food Technology/Health & PE project. Students will develop a food product to provide appropriate nutrition before, during or after an adventure race they will be participating in.

Jenny says the students learnt about what is involved in the process of developing a new product in industry from the early stages of coming up with new ideas. "Through the hands-on activity they experienced how the oaty bars are formed when they are trialling new formulations on a small scale, and how consistency in the size and shape of the bar can be achieved."

Starting high school with science careers

Science; Careers | Years 9-10 | Christchurch region | March 2017

For the fourth consecutive year, Lincoln High School's Science department ran a Careers in Science unit for all Year 9 students. The initiative aims to capture student interest in science at an early stage and address their often limited perceptions of what the science they're learning can be used for in the 'real world'.

Students started the unit by browsing the Futureintech website and printed brochures to find out what careers build on physics, chemistry and biology knowledge. They also looked at the different industries that employ people with technology, engineering and science skills.

Ambassadors representing different career pathways (this year they were engineers or scientists) visited the school, with each pair going to one of the 11 classes. They talked to students about their jobs, the challenges and rewards, and how to forge a pathway into an exciting, meaningful and well paid career that will be in demand into the future.

"They were fantastic speakers as always," says Science teacher Rose Travis. "They certainly inspired students in both my classes to think about career options involving science."

Starting the year with women scientists and engineers

Science; Careers | Years 9-10 | Central/West Auckland region | March 2017

In the first few weeks of the school year, all 200 students starting in Year 9 at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School met a woman whose job involves the real world use of science.

Structural engineer Karina Kaufusi from Beca, civil engineer Ying Yang from Mott MacDonald, former Plant & Food Research scientist Laura Ward and clinical research associate Mrinal Murali from Fisher & Paykel Healthcare covered the eight science classes. Each student also received a Futureintech brochure about science-rich careers and a matching activity sheet.

“When students arrive in Year 9 they have a wide range of backgrounds in terms of their understanding of science. So we start with class discussions about ‘what is science?’, ‘what isn’t it?’, ‘why is it important?, and ‘what is a scientist?’,” explains Head of Science Michal Denny.

“Asking the girls to ‘draw a scientist’ overwhelmingly produces pictures of old men in white coats with crazy hair. Further questioning reveals that the male scientists they’ve drawn are European in ethnicity and are busy ‘blowing things up in labs’.

“We wanted to address these narrow perceptions right at the beginning of the year so I said to Futureintech that I’d love to have some young female scientists talk to our girls. Having engineers talk reinforces the idea it isn’t all about being in a lab – that science happens in lots of different places.”

From left to right: Laura Ward, Mrinal Murali, Ying Yang and Karina Kaufusi.

Flying Fox Challenge: Year 7-10 Maths resource

Mathematics | Years 9-10 | Christchurch region | January 2017

Image: students working on practical activity

Two Year 10 Maths classes at Opihi College used their knowledge of maths and forces to complete the Futureintech Year 7-10 Flying Fox Challenge. This resource was developed to students how the maths they’re learning is applied in jobs such as surveying and engineering.

Surveyor William Ching from Timaru District Council visited the school for the first session. After talking about his role at the council, he discussed contour maps and had the students draw the contours of a potato. They also calculated the height of the school building using trigonometry.

Image: students working on practical activityTheresa Allan, a structural engineer from GHD, took the second session. She explained what she does in her job, then the students carried out calculations related to forces. William returned for the final session in which students designed their flying fox.

Teacher Anne Griffiths said “The students were enthusiastic in their efforts to design their flying foxes. It was a great opportunity for them to work collaboratively and there were many creative solutions to the problem. I developed a Level 1 NCEA Mathematics assessment around this flying fox scenario. Having completed this practical, all the students could understand the context of the assessment.” 

Linking classroom activities to science in the real world

Science ( Biology ) | Years 7-8 Years 9-10 | Waikato region | January 2017

Image: Nicola giving presentation to class

Year 7-9 students at Berkley Normal Middle School took part in the Term 4 Science elective aimed at exposing them to what science looks like in the workplace and getting them excited about science. 

Scientist Nicola King from ESR, who was the second Ambassador to take part in the elective, visited for a session about microbiology.  She talked to students about what she does in her job, then had them swab objects around the room. The students plated their samples on agar petri dishes and looked at them under a microscope. They also placed their fingers on agar plates to see how clean their hands were; these were left for a couple of days so the bacteria could grow. Following this activity, the students looked at yeast under a microscope. 

Teacher Sarah Bogan says Nicola captured the students’ attention with her presentation and engaged them in a discussion about science and how the activities linked to science in the real world. 

“All the students were enthusiastic about the set task and the content Nicola covered. She engaged them in their learning – they were still buzzing about the lesson when they next came to the science room.”

The Caretaker's Swimming Pool Temperature App

Technology ( Electronics ) | Years 7-8 | Christchurch region | January 2017

Image: students with their prize

Four students at Kirkwood Intermediate designed and built an electronic sensor and mobile app to free the school’s caretaker from taking hourly manual readings of the swimming pool’s temperature.

Electrical engineer Chris Baddock from MWH mentored the team and guided them through the product development process. The students started with meeting their client – the caretaker – to establish what he wanted from the project and how the temperature information would be presented to him.

They decided on a smartphone app that updated in real time and could be checked even when the caretaker wasn’t on the school grounds.

The team then researched and analysed different varying measurement techniques before designing their electronic device. It included components to measure, process and display the temperature data locally, and a Wi-Fi module to transmit the data.

During the construction and testing phase the group entered their work in the Canterbury-Westland Science and Technology Fair, where they gained a merit award form Statistics New Zealand for ‘Excellent use of statistics in a science project’.

“Chris made the learning as practical as possible, with students testing design ideas and making modifications to improve performance,” says teacher Julie Anderson “He also discussed the impact an engineering career can have on improving the quality of individual, family and community lives.

“I was amazed at the visible personal growth of the students during the project. They gained confidence as they volunteered for various roles and spoke to adults. Students learnt more than problem-solving – it also involved ways to make and how to justify a decision, how to design solutions, the importance of stakeholder feedback, and working to a budget.”

Photo caption: Students show their prize at the Canterbury-Westland Science and Technology Fair.

Learning about oceanography

Science ( Physics ) | Years 7-8 | South/East Auckland region | January 2017

Image: students watching experiments

Coastal scientist Kirstyn Goodger, from Beca, returned to her old school, Farm Cove Intermediate, to talk to Year 7-8 students about science in the real world. 

The class was involved in a week-long Science Intensive which included investigating the environmental issue of ocean pollution. Most had heard of the great Pacific Garbage Patch but did not know how it came about. 

Kirstyn talked about what she does in her job then did some experiments linked to her presentation on ocean currents. The students were interested to see that salt water added to fresh water sank to the bottom because of its higher density – and that the cold water could be from 500 years ago! 

Students said they particularly liked learning about how the ocean works, the ‘global conveyer belt’ of large-scale water circulation (including the formation of ocean gyres) and seeing how it worked in the experiments. 

Teacher Lynn Dunbar says it was a great success. “The students were very engaged and really enjoyed learning about something that most had not thought about before."

Plenty more fish in the sea

Technology ( Food ) | Years 11-13 | Dunedin region | January 2017

Photo: Heather, Ta and students

Tanyaradzwa E Mungure from the University of Otago mentored two students working on a Student Product Development Challenge with a sustainability focus. The Year 12 and 10 students aimed to recover more flesh from discarded commercially processed blue cod fish frames than is currently done, and develop a commercially viable food product.

They researched methods for recovering additional flesh then trialled doing this by hand, recovering an average of 25 to 35% flesh – the same as mechanised fish recovery methods used in industry.  The students discussed their concepts for using the fish with Ta, and decided to develop fish sausages. They created two recipes and conducted sensory evaluation testing to determine which sausage was preferred.

The students were awarded first prize in the Waikato and South Island section of the challenge.

Food Technology teacher Heather Brown says the students’ enthusiasm was boundless.  “Working on the Challenge with a mentor helped them improve their planning and evaluation skills, problem-solving and research and documentation skills. They also learnt the protocols around communicating with tertiary-level experts and industry professionals.”

Read about the NZIFST / CREST Student Product Development Challenge

Learning how the digitech curriculum relates to industry

Technology ( Digital ) | Years 11-13 | Christchurch region | January 2017

Image from PowerPoint presentation

Spencer Travers, an embedded design engineer at Trimble, had visited the Middleton Grange School 13 Digital Technologies class in 2015. He spoke to the students about his job and how he uses the waterfall and agile methodologies. “He had an excellent presentation,” says teacher Patrick Baker, “which thoroughly engaged the students, and gave them heaps of the right material for their reports.”

Patrick requested a repeat curriculum-related talk for the 2016 cohort. Spencer again talked about working in the software industry and how those methodologies are used.

A few days later the class visited e-commerce provider eStar, to get an industry perspective of the full capability of an online retail service – from website design through to the logistics of tracking and delivering the good.

The students were split into two groups for the visit. Software developer Andrew Grieve and software development manager and design lead Dena Emanuel discussed their roles and introduced the students to people working in other areas of the organisation.

Come dressed as your future career

Careers | Years 7-8 | Waikato region | January 2017

Photo: Ambassador talking to students

180 Year 7 and 8 students at Marian Catholic Primary School were involved in a school careers day which included dressing up as their ‘future career’. Six of our Ambassadors visited, each doing a 45-minute careers presentation and an activity twice, so that the six classes could hear from an engineer and a food technologist.

Environmental engineer Andrew Tipene and civil engineer Tim Kuek, both from AECOM, and structural engineer Adam Langsford, from BCD Group, talked to students about what they do in their roles and ran a pipe cleaner tower challenge.

Food technologists Christina Ferrick, from Open Country Dairy, Louise Tolenaars, from Dairy Goat Cooperative, and Ari Penberthy, from Prolife Food, also talked about their jobs and did a food science activity with the students. All the Ambassadors said it was a positive experience and they had a lot of fun working with the students.

Associate principal Kerrie Martin was impressed with their efforts and is planning more visits in 2017. “Our students enjoyed hearing about the Ambassadors’ study pathways and work experiences, and how what they do links to the ‘big picture’.

“The students were enthusiastic and engaged – there was a perfect balance between talking, questions and hands-on activities. The activities were pitched at the right level, requiring cooperation and collaboration.”

What is hydrophobicity?

Science ( Chemistry ) | Years 1-6 | Central/West Auckland region | January 2017

Diagram from PowerPoint presentation

After a visit from biochemist Laura Domigan, a research fellow at the University of Auckland, Year 1 to 3 students at Massey Primary School could understand and explain hydrophobicity*. 

They had been studying aspects of the Living World and Nature of Science strands. Team leader Anna Watkin asked Laura to speak to three different groups of students (180 altogether) about being a scientist and how she uses biochemistry in her everyday work. 

Laura talked to the students about her job, explaining why she wears protective clothing and sharing some of the exciting things she has been involved in. She then did some experiments, mixing oil and water and watching the phases separate. With the help of volunteers from the class, she investigated which phase could be used to dissolve food colouring and which to dissolve M&M's. 

Anna says the students were very engaged in the lesson. “They were captivated; it was something new and different and all were keen to interact and join in the discussion and activities.” 

*In chemistry, a hydrophobic substance is one that repels water.

Friendship Bus Stop and Obstacle Course

Technology | Years 1-6 | Christchurch region | January 2017

21 Year 5-6 students at St Martins School worked on two Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards design projects – a Friendship Bus Stop and an obstacle course aimed at improving student fitness – with Alasdair Lothian, a civil and transportation engineer at MWH.

The groups were also guided by teachers Tamara Saxon and Iona Rait, who provided a framework and deadline for the students, and Ambassador Lisa Mace, a process engineer at Beca who got the bus stop group started.

The students completed tasks including: multi-criteria analysis of each of the options, ranking each option by a range of factors, such as safety, affordability and amenity; presentation of their ideas to the school’s Board of Trustees; a site visit to the Margaret Mahy playground; and detailed assessment of health and safety factors and design constructability/cost estimates.

Teamwork was an important part of both projects, and students volunteered for specific roles such as project manager, designer, cost estimator and presenter. Being given responsibility helped encourage the full participation of the students. Alasdair commented that “seeing how the students grew into their roles was one of the most enjoyable aspects for me.”

“Each week I was more and more impressed by the students; the skills they show and the enthusiasm they bring is very engaging. They turned out to be absolutely amazing future engineers.”

Photo of Friendship Bus Stop and Obstacle Course models

Student models of their designs for a Friendship Bus Stop (left) and obstacle course (right).

Students design bridges with civil engineer

Mathematics; Science ( Physics ) | Years 7-8 | Christchurch region | August 2016

Year 7 and 8 students from St Anne’s Catholic School met with Futureintech Ambassador, Sam Anania for a field trip to the new over-bridge site at Memorial Ave.  This gave a group of students the opportunity to see a real world example before taking part in their own bridge design competition.

Sam using text books to test the students' bridge

Back at the school, Sam presented a slideshow describing different types of bridges and engaged in discussion with the students.  With photographs of bridges for reference, the students worked in groups to draw, then construct their bridges using ice-block sticks.  Each bridge was loaded with Maths text books to test whether it was structurally sound. One group constructed a bridge that was able to hold an impressive, 28 books!

Daniel Gorman, Centre Manager at Te Waka Unua Technology Centre, thought Sam would make a great teacher and said,

“His organisation, enthusiasm and warm demeanour make him popular with the kids... he has been awesome.”

Virtual visit demonstrates digital technology in action

Technology ( Digital ) | Years 9-10 | Dunedin region | July 2016

Software developer, Glenn McCord has been working remotely with Year 10 students at Columba College via Skype from his office at Navico in Auckland.

Senior Digital Technology teacher at Columba College, Justin Scott, sought out an Ambassador so that his students could see and hear a real-world example of game design before they started to develop their own games.  The development of an educational game (either computer or board game) is a major focus in Year 10 Technology.  

Glenn has developed games for iTunes and Android, so he shared his experience in designing, making and publishing games to help the students with their entry into the NZTA’s Game Design Competition.

“Glenn was excellent with his presentation and he came across clearly over the Skype connection. He discussed topics like technical and game play issues and stakeholder considerations when designing games. It was a real benefit for the students to see a practicing technologist explain and demystify the process of designing games,” says Mr Scott.

In addition to the focus on game design, Glenn’s talk also captured how he personally discovered, studied for and then continued to have a successful career as a software engineer – noting that software is more than just games.  This was a valuable experience for everyone involved. 

The students’ games performed well in the NZTA's Game Design Competition, with one team achieving a Highly Commended award for their game ‘Prickle in a Pickle.’

Check out their game
Read about the NZTA’s Game Design Competition

Wind turbine – the next step

Technology | Years 7-8 | Central/West Auckland region | June 2016

Automation systems engineer Neal Bent, from ABB, is working with Year 7-8 students at Royal Road School to help make use of the electricity generated by their wind turbine.

In 2010, students worked on a Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Award project to find an ‘eco’ solution for pumping water from their rainwater tank to the shade house – and won a Merit Award for their efforts.  With additional funding from the Auckland Council’s Environmental Initiatives Fund, the school installed a wind turbine, which has been in use since late 2013.

This year, a new group of students is working on a project. They are looking at how the school can use the surplus electricity generated by the wind turbine. Neal brought in some simple circuit kits to help the students understand basic electrical concepts.

“There were two different types, one that had a bulb and powered the whirly thing to spin, then rise into the air,” explains teacher Rebekah Phillips. “The other one had a range of sounds you could generate: police siren and others. The kids enjoyed these immensely!”

The next step for the students will be communicating their ideas to stakeholders and collecting survey data. Photo: Neal working with students

Photo: Neal Bent with Royal Road School students

How school subjects apply to real life situations

Technology | Years 7-8 | Central/West Auckland region | June 2016

Mechatronics Engineer Eric Wang, from Airways New Zealand, visited Bailey Road School this week. He talked to two groups of 40 Year 7/8 students about his job and what inspired him to become an air navigation systems technician.

Technology Teacher Joyce Kay says the students were very engaged. “Eric gave an excellent presentation, using a variety of visual resources and following up with a paper plane making activity.

“He spoke about the subjects he took at school and what he did at university. Eric was able to make the students understand how Maths, Science and English apply to real life problems and situations. It gives learners inspiration and an idea of what subjects they need for the future.”

Joyce also wants students to focus on the Technological Systems component in the Technological Knowledge strand. “Eric briefly touched on this and I will take it further in lessons.”

Developing a wind turbine

Technology | Years 11-13 | Napier/Hastings region | May 2016

Karamu High School student Angus Fulford developed a wind turbine for his Year 13 Technologyproject – and was awarded Merit in the 2015 Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards for his efforts.

He was mentored by Ambassadors Aaron Harry, Nidal Eltayeb and Nathan Marks, all from RCR Energy Systems. They also invited Angus to visit their workplace where he saw first-hand how engineers work together on projects.

“While creating the project, students from other classes were constantly questioning Angus on what he was creating,” says HOF – Technology Dale Prebble. “He made sure in these situations that he mentioned the fact that he had guidance from engineers. I feel that this has inspired other students to work towards an Engineering type project.”

Photo: Angus Fulford, Aaron Harry, Arthur Budvietas (IPENZ Hawke’s Bay Branch Chairperson) and Dale Prebble

Read more about Angus's award

Gap Filler: the piano shelter project

Technology ( Materials ) | Years 9-10 | Christchurch region | November 2015

An Avonside Girls’ High School Technology class created a piano shelter for the Gap Filler Initiative, which makes use of vacant sites for community activities. They were awarded Merit for their Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards entry, as was the group from Cashmere Primary School which also worked on a Gap Filler project (see story below).

Ambassador Audsley Jones, a structural engineer who is currently studying towards a PhD at the University of Canterbury, mentored the 29 Year 10 students. Their client wanted a shelter which would allow visitors to The Commons area of Christchurch city to play the piano while protected from the weather.

The girls had to consider architectural design, structural engineering and materials – their brief specified that the piano shelter be built from recycled materials – as they developed their project. They made architectural drawings and models of their designs, and had a lot of fun helping build the final design selected by their client.

“The project gave the students a fantastic opportunity to carry out work for the community and an authentic learning experience,” says teacher Sheena Scott. “They have gained knowledge of the design process that is required to work towards a final outcome.”

Audsley comments, “It was a pleasure to be part of this project. The class was enthusiastic, welcoming and open to brainstorming, questioning and participating.”

Lighthouses, human circuits and bee-shaped robots

Technology ( Digital, Electronics ) | Years 1-6 | South/East Auckland region | November 2015

Ambassador Chris Quill from Fisher & Paykel has been contributing to a series of science, technology, engineering and maths-related activities at Rongomai School. He’s supporting STEM coordinator Nicholas Pattison’s efforts to get students excited about these subjects and connect them up to real world careers.

The focus has been on fun activities, starting with a session making bristlebots [simple moving robots, made with a toothbrush, battery and vibra motor].

More than 30 Year 5-6 students from Rongomai School and nearby Papatoetoe Central, Bairds Mainfreight and Robertson Road schools participated in a STEM Challenge day that involved three activities:

  • The Lighthouse Challenge introduced structural engineering and required the students to complete a simple circuit to illuminate a small light bulb. They were challenged to construct the tallest possible tower out of ice-block sticks that was stable enough to hold the light.
  • The Makey Makey Challenge used an electronic device designed by MIT Media Lab students that connects up conductive objects – fruit, paint, plants and human beings – to form circuits that act as keyboard-like inputs to an attached computer.
  • The Beebot Challenge introduced simple coding, using a floor robot that the children had to program with a sequence of directions in order to navigate an obstacle course.

Chris talked to the teams about what it’s like to be an electronics engineer and then helped with the judging. The next activity is Kudo Game Lab, which will introduce computer game design.

“Working with Chris has made it possible to introduce complex topics like coding and robotic sensors in a way that both the students and I can understand and use,” Nicholas says. “As technology changes so quickly it is invaluable to have an expert like Chris who able is able to provide technical expertise, but who can also relate and build relationships with our students while making learning fun.”

Watch the Bristlebots activity on YouTube
Read about the Challenge on Rongomai School's STEM blog

Photo: Students with Ambassador Chris Quill



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