Sci­ence and tech sup­port for kids

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - RICHARD MAYS

Ac­tive Minds Aotearoa, a sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy sup­port pro­gramme for kids, is on a roll.

Now head­quar­tered at Te Manawa, the com­mu­nity-fo­cused learn­ing and teach­ing trust set up by Erin and Mark Skelsey has a mis­sion to pro­mote sci-tech, de­sign and sus­tain­abil­ity to young minds.

‘‘For kids who are into mu­sic, arts and sport, there’s lots of things go­ing on,’’ Erin said.

‘‘But if you’re into sci­ence, ro­bot­ics, coding, there are limited op­por­tu­ni­ties. There are not the groups or clubs for kids to pur­sue these things.’’

For the past two years, with a team of vol­un­teer tu­tors, AMA has op­er­ated in a zone that en­cour­ages chil­dren to ‘‘make, break and cre­ate’’ things from a sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, de­sign and maths fo­cus.

‘‘My pas­sion has been to in­spire chil­dren from a very young age, and saw there was an op­por­tu­nity to set up some­thing unique in Manawatu.’’

As well as set­ting up af­ter­school and hol­i­day pro­grammes, AMA works with 15 mem­ber schools within a 60 kilo­me­tre ra­dius of Palmer­ston North, pro­vid­ing foren­sic, food tech and elec­tron­ics kits as well as teach­ing sup­port.

‘‘We’re about to pi­lot a food prod­uct unit at Ross In­ter­me­di­ate us­ing agri­cul­tural sci­ence re­sources to pro­duce our own food kit as a term four pro­ject.’’

At St Peter’s Col­lege, AMA are work­ing along­side the Cen­tral Ro­bot­ics Trust that runs the events for the VEX and VEX IQ ro­bot­ics pro­grammes through­out the Cen­tral Lower North Is­land.

‘‘Our pro­grammes are all linked to the New Zealand sci­ence cur­ricu­lum.’’

Skelsey said the vol­un­teer tu­tors at­tracted to AMA were equally pas­sion­ate about the pro­gramme and many have been with it since in­cep­tion, and AMA can call on cer­tain Massey Uni- ver­sity ex­per­tise and in­put.

Dur­ing the school hol­i­days, AMA’s Te Manawa work­shops on food pack­ag­ing de­sign, move­ment and the sci­ence of the Olympics, among oth­ers, at­tracted plenty of young­sters keen to learn about the prac­ti­cal and fun hands-on ap­pli­ca­tion of sci­en­tific prin­ci­ples.

Te Manawa’s Andy Lowe said the AMA ‘‘res­i­dence’’ would be a wel­come ad­di­tion to the mu­seum’s sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy arm.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

James Skelsey, 5, Henry Si­mons, 7, Lu­cas BrownSa­muels­son, 7, Lach­lan Mexted, 7, and Si­iri Dzier­zon, 6, dis­cover how air mol­e­cules cre­ate lift at Te Manawa.

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