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Te Wānanga Whakawhānui - developing the bright young minds in Tairāwhiti.

Some excellent news which was recently in The Gisborne Herald...

The Mind Lab by Unitec in Gisborne has been successful in applying for the Curious Minds funding from MBIE - The Lab was awarded $26,000 to engage more young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The funding will be used to create and support Te Wānanga Whakawhānui at The Mind Lab, young people between the ages of 7-18 will be able to apply to be a part of the academy which will be developing the bright young minds in Tairāwhiti.  When learners are part of the academy they will attend afterschool and weekend workshops at The Mind Lab for a gold coin koha - usually these workshops range between $130-$150 for 5-6 sessions, this cost has been subsidised by the funding.  The workshops will be in computer coding, electronics with Arduino, web-design, app development, 3D printing and design.  

The Mind Lab already has financial subsidies from The Eastland Community Trust and Activate Tairāwhiti for all children to visit through school for $1/hour, last year 5000 children in Tairāwhiti visited the lab.  These visits allow children to experience a wide range of learning experiences and to start thinking about how new technology could be used in their lives, but the Mind Lab has seen much deeper learning in the after school programmes where children have 5-6 weeks to work on projects and turn these thoughts into reality, exploring ideas under the guidance of the expert team.  Recently Hirday Bajaj won a new Arduino MKR1000 in the world’s largest Arduino maker challenge for his hand motion and voice controlled Arduino robot which was made in 6 after school sessions.  Education Director Tim Gander said ‘we were really passionate as a regional lab to make this opportunity accessible to everyone as we see this is where the real change will begin, to have subsidies to support further equitable access will really make a difference to a wide range of young people in the district.  The funding should allow around 270 young people access to long term (5 week) afterschool and weekend workshops this year.’  In addition to the reduced cost The Mind Lab has also adjusted the time of sessions to allow more young people access, Mr.Gander said “we have learnt that the time of sessions and transport have been barriers to participation in the past, Te Wānanga Whakawhānui will be run slightly later, and during the weekends so learners from out of town will be able to attend.”

The first stage of Te Wānanga Whakawhānui will be 5 open sessions which will be free and run afterschool and at the weekend, the aim of these sessions is to allow young people the chance to find out which workshops they would like to apply for.  The first session is on Tuesday the 28th of June, these taster sessions will cover film, coding, animation, and 3D printing and to register an interest fill in this form.  Applications for Te Wānanga Whakawhānui will be circulated through schools/kura and social media


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