Students have their say

Issue: Volume 99, Number 7

Posted: 18 May 2020
Reference #: 1HA7Wx

Students from Northcote Intermediate have had their say about the redevelopment of their suburb as part of the school’s STEAM project-based learning programme.

Students from Northcote Intermediate sharing their mahi

Just over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, Northcote is a prime location for urban intensification, with about 1,500 new homes planned as well as redevelopment of some of the suburb’s infrastructure. The Northcote Development began in 2018 and is projected to be completed in 2025.

In term 4, 2019, Northcote Intermediate’s students were invited to consider how they would shape their changing neighbourhood. They worked with project partners from Panuku Development (council-controlled urban regeneration organisation), Auckland Libraries, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, as well as designers and developers. 

Teacher-in-charge Andrew Kingston says the students had an opportunity to get involved in real-life situations that could lead to outcomes in their own community. 

“Opportunities like this build confidence and enhance problem-solving capabilities which can be applied to many other parts of their lives. It’s also great for the students to see how these professionals work together – it might inspire them to explore these occupations further,” he says.

Digital design

While considerable research was done online during the eight-week project, the outside experts supplied the students with up-to-date digital floor or landscape plans along with digital illustrations. 

“From there they were able to get a picture of what their basic canvas was going to look like and what value they could add to those areas. They could either use the digital item or print it and move things around on paper first before displaying it digitally,” Andrew explains.

Meeting community needs

Unaiki, Emily, Liberty and Sophia show their work to Kathleen Waldock from Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities.

Unaiki, Emily, Liberty and Sophia show their work to Kathleen Waldock from Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities.

Students looked at three key problems: transport, re-imaging the library and incorporating more student voice in the redevelopment. 

The projects were an integration of a range of different learning areas, with 120 students working across the equivalent of four classes as they identified a problem they thought they could solve, or lessen. 

The school was fortunate to have a group of people working on the redevelopment who visited the school every week or so, listened to student projects and provided feedback.

“We told the students they should use that feedback and redevelop their ideas so that when they’re presenting it again, they went through that design and redesign process,” says Andrew.

“They surprised me – a lot of students took that feedback really well. They valued it, made those adjustments and ended up seeing why it was important, or saw the holes that may have existed within their project. The outside experts were very accommodating and constructive.” 

The school’s Mana group was also involved in this project.

“The group looked at embedding Māori and Pasifika cultures into the development of the Cadness Loop Reserve and the Awataha Greenway project. This included cultural identity and thinking in terms of the design of the spaces and what is valued in those communities,” explains Andrew.

Andrew Kingston and students discussing their project.

Andrew Kingston and students discussing their project.

Youth voice for local reserve

One group of students worked with park designers to develop a plan that incorporated their ideas and interests for the Cadness Loop Reserve. The aim was to design a safe interactive park that met the needs of pre-adolescents and is connected with the urban area and greenway project. 

“The architect said working with so many students definitely gave him food for thought about talking to more young people and considering what they are putting in place in these parks. He learned one of the big things for this age group is the fear of intimidation in parks. So it’s important to ensure there’s a space where pre-adolescents are not going to feel as though the bigger kids are going to dominate,” explains Andrew.

Congestion solutions

Northcote has a concentration of schools and early learning services within a small radius. There can be considerable congestion at peak hours and additional homes will have a big impact. Some students looked at promoting e-scooters, bikes and skateboards, designing charging stations and storage at school and changing the roading systems to lessen congestion and danger for local school children. 

Lilla presents her skateboard design as a sustainable transport option.

Lilla presents her skateboard design as a sustainable transport option.

Students contacted Flamingo and Lime scooters and looked at some of their policies to see what is possible. They also contacted Kmart to see if they could establish a small fleet of sponsored scooters to establish what the uptake would be.

“They came to dead ends, but it didn’t stop them because they still thought they could promote an alternative form of transport.

“The biggest benefit of something like this is looking at how the students responded to each other, how they worked well together and how they needed to change themselves in order to operate as a group. With time, you can see that developing and quite quickly. Students’ management of time changes when they have that passion, investment and choice of what they are learning,” says Andrew.

Women in Urbanism Aotearoa

An exciting outcome from the transport project is that some of the girls involved in this project were invited to become youth ambassadors for Women in Urbanism Aotearoa(external link).

“The girls running the transport project were looking at how people move. Even if people are living close, why are they still driving? Is it just habit or what? How do you shift that mindset?

“The expert they presented to was impressed with what the girls had taken on board, changed and their insight as to what could happen with transport in the area. This has given those girls an opportunity to put forward a youth and female voice beyond Northcote.”

School-industry partnerships

Students pitched their final ideas to the experts they had been working with and were provided with feedback on their final presentations and prototypes.

“The experts were hugely generous with their time. The project wouldn’t have been what it was had they not been so involved because there wouldn’t have been that sense of accountability or seeking more, because the teachers on our team didn’t have the answers.”

Find out more about the students’ project:  

Lily and Kimberley presenting to the class.

Lily and Kimberley presenting to the class.

Curriculum references

This story clearly shows how students working together on an issue important to their community can reflect some key elements of
The New Zealand Curriculum (NZC):

  • Students develop creativity and enterprise.
  • Students learn to make the most of opportunities to secure a sustainable social and environmental future for Aotearoa.
  • Local curriculum is meaningful to students and engages the support of whānau and communities.
  • Many learning areas can be brought to bear on an authentic problem like the Northcote redevelopment: English, arts, science, social science, mathematics, health and physical education.
  • Students used intellectual and practical resources to create outcomes which expand human possibilities by addressing needs and realising opportunities, making technology in the NZC particularly relevant.
  • Students reflect the range of communities in Northcote and bring their ideas to the park redevelopment that meets diverse needs and interests.

Student kōrero

Shiori, Lily, Kimberley and Joey focused on transport and traffic congestion.

Q: What problem did you explore? 

A: With the population growing, we thought about how we could reduce traffic issues as well as being environmentally friendly and that was how we had the idea of using e-scooters. We designed a place to lock up and charge electric scooters.

Q: What was your group’s best idea?

A: Our best idea was using an app called Tinkercad to create an exterior design of how we wanted our building to look. We tried designing our structure on paper but realised we wanted to 3D-model it, so we came up with the idea to use Tinkercad, a 3D-modelling program our whole group had had prior experience with.

Q: What feedback did you/your group get from the experts? How did this change your design/project? 

A: The feedback we got was to think about the minor details, like how much power we would need to charge the scooters and power the lights and how many solar panels were needed to charge an e-scooter. Researching about how much power was needed to charge an e-scooter made it easier to present, as it was more specific to our expert.

Q: What would you like to see happen to your idea/design? 

A: We would like other schools and companies/organisations to take and develop our idea for their workspace so they can e-scoot as well. We hope our design can go out to the whole of New Zealand so people can be more aware about how to be more environmentally friendly.

Q: What was one key thing you learned from this project?

A: We learned how beneficial a lot of people riding electric could be for the environment, as it would reduce traffic and the use of fossil fuels like petrol. We learnt that it takes 0.4–0.7 watt-hours to fully charge an e-scooter.

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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 12:33 PM, 18 May 2020

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