New programme encourages Kiwi kids to become inventors

A new programme being offered to schools and community groups across the country will encourage kids to think about a career as inventors.

An American TV host came up with the new way of learning which focuses on using play to teach science and technology.

Brent Bushnell went from being a professional clown to TV inventor for shows like America's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

He devised the craze of adult amusement parks in LA then realised it could be a way for kids to learn too.

"A lot of the work that we've been working on is about fun and games and play and we started to realise that kind of pathway is a great way to get kids excited about science and engineering," he says.

Bushnell is here for the Tripartite summit, as part of tech week, to tell people about the programme called STEAM learning, which stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Students in Nelson were the first to test the hands-on programme when Bushnell was in New Zealand on a Sir Edmund Hillary fellowship.

Now it's being offered nationwide, for example, an underwater robots course funded by the Ministry of Pacific Peoples.

"Their whole focus is getting Maori and Pasifika students and women involved in the STEAM education because they're under-represented in this field," says educational charity leader Amy Cornelison.

Some said it made them think about careers they'd never considered before.

"After a programme like this it's definitely opened my eyes a bit to the engineering side so I'll see at the end of this year what I could be doing," student Telekalafi Likiliki said.

STEAM learning encourages students to reimagine and repurpose local waste.

Imagine a local company that buys too many boxes. Instead of putting that in a landfill, that becomes the resources kids use for their programmes, and what better place to do that than the country known for its number-eight wire mentality.


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