Waka Wars break out at Massey Science Challenge


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Science got competitive over the weekend as nearly a hundred secondary school students converged on Massey University to take part in the first Pūhoro Waka Wars.

The students were part of Massey University’s Pūhoro Academy Programme which encourages pupils in the Manawatū and Bay of Plenty to pursue a career in science. The programme started with year 11 students and engaged with teachers and whanau to support the students’ science study.

Academy kaihautū (leader) Leland Ruwhiu says, “Getting the students together every term is vital as it reminds them that while they work within their own schools during the term, they’re part of a wider community of other Pūhoro students who share their passion, which is reflected in the academy’s mantra ‘He waka eke noa’, or ‘We’re all in this together’.

“The workshop asked the students to problem solve, work as a team and utilise the skills they’ve been learning all term. The teams were mixed so the students will interact with their Pūhoro peers from other schools”.

The Epro8 challenge included engineering, electronics, mathematics and problem-solving challenges. Challenges included: building a freestanding bridge, assembling a rover capable of carrying a 5kg load and building a safe with a trip wire. Each challenge had different degrees of difficulty and the students were awarded points corresponding to the level of difficulty they selected.

Director of Academy Programmes Naomi Manu says, “We now have 97 Māori science students engaged in this programme, and we continue to develop the programme to meet the students’ needs and develop new resources to aid them on their journey. Field trips in the year will include lab visits, industry visits and other activities that will contribute to students’ understanding of the scientific world and their future place within it.”

Programme ambassador Mana Vautier, who works as an aerospace engineer with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), checked in with students via Skype on the day.

The Pūhoro Acadamy Programme is funded by Massey University and Te Puni Kōkiri with support from the Palmerston North City Council, Te Tumu Paeroa and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

Students are supported with extra tutoring on a fortnightly basis, laboratory space for schools without their own facilities, support selecting qualification standards at school, and field trip opportunities.

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