Local tamariki have been exploring the wonder of energy, as part of Engineering New Zealand’s Wonder Project. This is a free nationwide programme for schools, designed to get young Kiwis excited about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) – and to open their eyes to the possibilities of a future STEM career.
George Whakatope, an electrical engineer from Firstlight Network, was a Tairāwhiti ambassador for this year’s Wonder Project. He worked with around 80 Year 6 students at Te Hapara School, in a number of sessions spread throughout the term.
“The Wonder Project involves a range of different challenges. Ours was the Power Up challenge, which poses the question: ‘I wonder how to power a brighter future?’” said Mr Whakatope.
“Students designed and built blades for a wind turbine to power up a LED city. Along the way, we generated discussions about electricity, renewable energy and engineering design. A key learning was how teamwork can keep the lights on.
“My role was to guide them through the activities, facilitate their learning and answer questions. I also gave a presentation about myself and my journey to getting a job as an engineer in the energy sector.
“It was a great project to be part of, with students sharing innovative ideas and showing impressive construction skills. Hopefully some of the tamariki will go on to become engineers here in Tairāwhiti in the future.”
Te Hapara School Assistant Principal Gabe Perano said that students have benefited from all the Wonder Project challenges they’ve been involved with this year.
"The programme is an amazing opportunity for our tamariki to explore topics that are hands-on and use materials not normally available to us.
"It was fantastic to have our tamariki involved with energetic and enthusiastic role models that they wouldn't normally connect with. Tamariki were inquisitive and engaged in their mahi.”
Teachers, STEM professionals and businesses interested in being part of the Wonder Project can find more information here: www.wonderproject.nz