Thursday 30 March 2017

Information and inspiration: secondary teachers talk about engineering

Auckland’s Waterview Connection Project provides an ideal context for learning and about career pathways into engineering.

An engineer works on site at Waterview Connection, while behind looms Dennis, the self-launching gantry used to shift concrete beams into place for new motorway ramps. Photo: NZTA
 
Teachers from Auckland Girls’ Grammar say students, staff and families all have a role in learning more about pathways into engineering careers.
The secondary school is among those invited to take part in the Waterview Connection: A Learning Pathways Challenge.
This initiative gives year 10 students the learning experiences to help them make decisions about further education, in particular, studying engineering as a career option.
Context is provided by New Zealand’s largest and most complex roading project – the Waterview Connection motorway tunnels in Auckland.
Auckland Girls’ Grammar deputy principal Fiona Lamberton says the initiative sits well with the school’s existing partnership with an engineering consultancy firm.
Fiona says this partnership has led to workplace visits and other experiences introducing students to the idea of engineering and related careers.
She says the partnership has also been an eye-opener for teachers, who have also been learning more about engineering.
The school, with over 70 per cent of students identifying as Māori or Pasifika, also brings back former students to give talks, including a young woman who is now studying towards a master’s degree in engineering.
Fiona says the young woman did not have an easy path through school, but the principal never gave up on her.
“You’ve got to believe in your students at school and push them and tell them they can do these things.”
Physics teacher Alka Rhode says the school’s community can also learn more about engineering careers, which will in turn increase families’ support for their daughters’ aspirations.
Fiona says students need good information about career options as they make subject choices for the senior years.
“They will make choices in year 11 that determine where they are going in life and if you don’t expose them to these possibilities they may narrow their options.”

SECONDARY TEACHERS TALK ENGINEERING
Secondary teachers say year 10 is an important stage for students thinking about subject choice and possible career pathways, making a new education initiative timely.
The teachers were speaking at the launch of the Waterview Connection: A Learning Pathways Challenge.
Green Bay High School head of Vocational Pathways Catrin Hughes says there is a shortage of engineers in New Zealand.
“This is an opportunity where we can bring students along and see what engineering is about,” she says.
“It’s targeted at year 10 students and for us that is really great because that’s when we are really honing in on the skill sets they might have and the careers they might be interested in. At that age they are thinking about subjects for NCEA.”
Green Bay principal Morag Hutchinson says the Waterview Connection motorway project is right on the doorstep of the school’s community.
“It has the most exciting potential to engage students if we can make that connection. Outside of the Christchurch rebuild, this would be one of the largest engineering projects in the country.”
An aerial view of the motorway interchange at the northern end of the Waterview Connection
- four new ramps are under construction. Photo: NZTA
 
CONTEXT FOR TECHNOLOGY TEACHING
Head of technology at Rosehill College, Michael Gowers says the Learning Pathway Challenge will support his department’s curriculum direction.
“We are going to introduce an engineering module to our year 10 with a view to moving our students from traditional woodwork and metalwork skills to a more expansive set of technology skills,” he says.
“We’re linking with the science and maths departments to make sure the students are prepared for those careers.”
He says Rosehill technology students at year 11 complete a module based around building bridges, which supports NCEA achievement standards. “This segues beautifully into that.”
By Wayne Erb.
 

OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL SCHOOLS
Resources for the Learning Pathway Challenge include a virtual field trip to Waterview Connection, open to all schools and facilitated by the LEARNZ team.
Waterview Connection virtual field trip (LEARNZ):
This virtual field trip begins on August 4, and includes interviews, videos, photos, reading materials, and live audioconferences. Teachers can register their class via the LEARNZ website. Videos and background material from the first trip last year remain
accessible online.
Futureintech:
Support for careers in technology, engineering and science. This includes visits to schools by Futureintech Ambassadors – people working in technology, engineering and science-based industries.