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House of Science launched in Tairawhiti

Gisborne businesses are urged to get on board with a new science-based education programme brought here by Tairawhiti Connext Charitable Trust.

At the official launch of the Tairawhiti House of Science programme, educators and business leaders were given a rundown of what the programme aims to achieve.

The programme, which encourages investigation, exploration and discovery skills, has been operating for one school term and is looking to expand across the district.

The primary focus is on providing science resources to students to equip them with skills and abilities necessary in the future workforce.

Established in Tauranga in 2013, the programme is now in 11 regions nationwide.

It operates by schools subscribing to a membership giving them access to specialised education kits on topics like nanotechnology, microscopes, energy, pollination and rockets.

“Each school that comes on board pays for a membership for a year and can receive one, two or three science kits a week,” Tairawhiti House of Science general manager Mihi Hannah said.

“At the moment we have limited schools to just one but as the library grows then the aspiration is to be able to offer the different tiered memberships.

“As a classroom teacher I know full well how difficult it can be to run an effective science programme.

“We have a very busy curriculum and it can be challenging to find appropriate lessons and the resources we need. It can be a time-consuming and costly process.

“Add to the mix translating it all into te reo Maori, which is the case for many of our te kura kaupapa Maori schools.

“This is what excites me most about the House of Science resource kits. They provide direct access to exactly what we need to deliver great science to our tamariki.”

Sponsorship is vital and several local businesses have come on board to sponsor resource kits.

“We have 12 schools already in the programme, we have a total of 16 kits and have distributed an average of nine kits per week.

“Our area is from Te Araroa to Wairoa so it’s a massive area. That means we’ll be having a roll-out implementation plan.

“Our year one roll-out is targeted at the central city schools and then we’ll go out further year on year.”

House of Science founder Chris Duggan says science is an exciting and important subject for all young New Zealanders.

“Science encourages the natural curiosity of children and teaches them to think, question and problem solve.

“Yet 80 percent of Year 8 students in New Zealand are not at the required curriculum level in science, limiting their future career choices and ability to explore and understand the world.

“We are determined to change this statistic. We deliver boxes of quality science resources to hundreds of schools every week, enabling young New Zealanders to get excited by science and learn important skills for participating actively, confidently and usefully in the world.

Eastland Group chief executive Matt Todd welcomed the arrival of House of Science.

“Four out of five New Zealand kids are behind in science when they start high school, according to the National Monitoring Study of Student Achievement.

“That alone makes the case for House of Science a proven and inspiring nationwide initiative that will have real benefits for our local students.

“From Eastland Group’s own experience, we know how enthusiastically students engage with STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) activities when given the opportunity.

“We believe this programme will add measurable, demonstrable value to students and teachers.”

Businesses wishing to become sponsors should e-mail Tairawhiti@houseofscience.nz?

SCIENCE IS IN THE HOUSE: House of Science founder Chris Duggan with Tairawhiti House of Science general manager Mihi Hannah at the official launch of the Tairawhiti House of Science at the Tonui collab. Picture by Paul Rickard