NASA scientist encourages Kiwi girls to code

NASA scientist encourages Kiwi girls to code

The country's next generation of tech whizzes have had a visit from NASA's new deputy administrator.

It's her first time in New Zealand and she says she'll be leaving inspired by what Kiwi kids are doing.

Dr Dava Newman's work is literally out of this world. Now she's bringing it back down to Earth to show pupils from low-decile schools around Auckland that they can reach those heights too.

"They learned some really important lessons not only about coding, but mostly about confidence and what they can do, and maybe pushing themselves beyond what they ever thought they could do," she says.

On Monday, 30 girls from Rodney College, Mount Roskill Grammar and Papatoetoe High School graduated from their Girl Code course. It's an out-of-school programme designed to encourage science, technology, engineering and math.

"I want to go into doing coding, doing tech support," one student says.

Another girl says she sees herself as an "IT person".

It's hoped a recent rehaul of the New Zealand curriculum will equip girls with the skills to excel in the technological world.

"People in the STEM fields have many more job offers, they make much higher wages - up to 25 percent higher," Dr Newman says, "so it's important it's actually a brighter future for folks."

Dr Newman gets it - she's inspired others with her research around space flight experiments and ground-based simulations. However on Monday, these young Kiwi girls are the ones with something to be proud of.

"They inspired me."

She'll be visiting Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin later this week, before she takes off back into the skies.