Rocket man launches academy
Work hard and dream big was the message from a real rocket man to Manawatu Maori students and their whanau.
Former astronaut Colonel Rick Searfoss teamed up with Maori aerospace engineer Mana Vautier from Nasa to help launch Puhoro, an education programme designed to give young Maori additional support in science and mathematics.
Rick, who has been to space three times and commanded his own space mission, says there was a need for hardworking young people to come through into the workforce.
‘‘There are many challenges to face, but a lot of opportunities are out there and I encourage you all to take them,’’ he says.
The message about developing a strong work ethic and following dreams was reiterated by Mana.
Starting his working career at McDonald’s, he revealed how he had taken on any number of jobs including mowing lawns, painting, and being on the back of a rubbish truck, but he never gave up on his dream to become an astronaut.
Massey University associate director of academy programmes Namoi Manu says one of the reasons behind the new academy is due to the high rate of Maori students dropping science and mathematics after NCEA level one.
‘‘We want to make sure there is consistent support for these students, keep them in their classes and reduce that drop-off between level one and level two.’’
About 80 Maori NCEA level one students from Te Kura o Kauwhata, Manukura, Hato Paora, Feilding High School, Awatapu College and Palmerston North Boys’ High School will take part in Puhoro. It will see them participating in extra lab classes and fortnightly tutorials in their own time above and beyond their usual school classes.
‘‘We have an opportunity to teach these students extra skills and encourage them to choose from a number of different careers,’’ Naomi says.
Excited about Saturday’s Convention Centre launch of the pilot programme, she hopes it will eventually be rolled out across New Zealand.
Former Nasa astronaut Colonel Rick Searfoss speaks at the science academy for Maori tertiary and university students launch at the Centennial Convention Centre on Saturday.