Trade Me and Engineering New Zealand are on a journey to inspire wonder and creativity in Kiwi kids, thanks to a new initiative called the Wonder Project.
The Wonder Project aims to get children excited about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in a way that's both fun and engaging.
From rocket launches to career advice, the Wonder Project aims to be in 2500 New Zealand schools in the next five years, says Trade Me chief customer officer Regan Savage.
“As a large technology employer we know that tech and other STEM fields have a diversity issue - we want to help get more kids interested in the opportunities these careers provide.
The Wonder Project runs three separate programmes for students.
For children in Years 5-8, they can participate in the Rocket Challenge. In the challenge, they create a rocket from a bottle to blast into the sky above their school.
Children in Years 7-10 can solve a problem in their community using STEM principles.
For those students getting ready to leave school, the STEM careers programme for students getting ready to leave school to meet interesting STEM professionals and visit workplaces that interest them. Students can then make decisions about what they'll study at university.
“New Zealand desperately needs more engineers, as well as more professionals in all the STEM fields. Creating a strong pipeline of young people into these careers is critical for our future. And it's also critical that these industries embrace diversity and welcome everyone,” says Engineering New Zealand chief executive Susan Freeman Greene.
She says Trade Me is a genuine partner in the goal to spark wonder in STEM from an early age.
“We're really pleased to have a sponsor of Trade Me's calibre committed to this project, which is all about exciting and inspiring the next generation.
Freeman Greene also says the project can build confidence and help all young New Zealanders to realise that they can achieve amazing things.
“Our Wonder Project is all about inspiring tomorrow's innovators – about switching children on to the possibilities that science, technology, engineering and maths offer.
Currently the Rocket Challenge is in 460 classrooms, with 450 Ambassadors working alongside the teachers and 13,500 kids – 30% of whom are Māori or Pasifika and 50% are girls.
“We're planning to expand the Wonder Project into every New Zealand intermediate and primary school over the next few years,” concludes Freeman Greene.