Teachers thinking beyond the school science lab

Issue: Volume 94, Number 14

Posted: 10 August 2015
Reference #: 1H9crr

A new pilot is forging connections between teachers, students, and science-based industries.

Science is happening all around us, so it makes sense for teachers to get out of the school lab to experience it.

A new pilot aims to connect schools and kura with science or technology- intensive businesses in their community. Teachers and kaiako link with industries to bring business-relevant content into their classrooms.

The Teachers in Industry programme allows educators to get ‘real world’ understanding of science in practice and how it ties to The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa so that they can engage their peers and students.

Because they are regions with intensive industries, Taranaki and Franklin/Papakura were chosen for the pilot.

The Royal Society of New Zealand is contracted by the Ministry of Education to run these pilots, to give educators a greater understanding of all the ways science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is used in the workforce.

Royal Society of New Zealand chief executive Dr Andrew Cleland says the programme brings another context to STEM study.

“Teachers get to see, for example, that Plant & Food Research employs mathematicians to handle their data, or how food technologists ensure consistency for Renco’s natural enzyme products for cheese making.”

Teachers are also able to enhance their classroom practice, in the form of curriculum delivery and assisting students with career planning.

“As well as developing their own knowledge, teachers are able to pass on their learning to their peers,” says Dr Cleland. “In this way, the wider school can benefit from their experiences.”

Part of the delivery of the programme has been subcontracted to schools in the two regions. These schools act as bases, coordinating the programme for other schools or kura in the area.

This in-school coordination process means local knowledge and contacts can be more effectively shared and utilised.

What's happening in Taranaki?

Think of industry in Taranaki and farming, gas and oil probably come to mind. But there are plenty of other industries happening as well, as teachers in the region have been discovering.

Penny Dixon, from Inglewood High School, is the Teachers in Industry coordinator for Taranaki. She organised two field trips that took place in July.

The first involved four science teachers and one geography teacher. The group visited MetOceanSolutions an oceanography and meteorological consultancy company that specialises in modelling systems for ocean-based projects.

The other field trip was to Renco in Eltham. Renco is one of New Zealand’s oldest companies at 100 years old. They produce natural enzyme products for making cheese, and export their rennet worldwide. A food technology teacher and six science/biology teachers went on the visit, and were treated to an excellent presentation and factory tour, with all their questions answered.

More trips are planned soon – find out more and get involved at the Teachers in industry website(external link)

What's happening in south Auckland?

The Teachers in Industry pilot in Papakura and Franklin is being coordinated by Colin North from Waiuku College. In July they took their first field trips, to Fieldmaster Pukekohe and NZ Steel. Teachers were joined on their trip by representatives from Futureintech, Skills Choice and Careers New Zealand, recognising how important collaboration is to improve outcomes for students.

Colin says it was a useful day for all those involved. “Teachers of science and technology saw research and development in action. We have curious children in our schools who can benefit from stories of great innovation from local industries”.
In return, those industries will benefit from having a population of learners engaged with science and technology.

More events are scheduled for teachers(external link) at both large and small industries in Franklin and Papakura.

Curious minds

The Teachers in Industry pilot is part of the larger A Nation of Curious Minds He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara programme to enable better engagement with science and technology across all sectors of New Zealand.

A Nation of Curious Minds is one of a number of government initiatives recognising the importance of science/pūtaiao and technology/hangarau to New Zealand’s future.

Education Gazette will be featuring more about A Nation of Curious Minds over the year. Find out more about the programme at the curious minds website(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 4:43 pm, 10 August 2015

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