A taste of university life for Children’s University ākonga

Wednesday 10 July 2024

Almost 300 ākonga have been acquainted with university life through Discovery Days on the Pukeahu Wellington and Manawatū campuses over the past fortnight.

Weaving stars for Matariki during Discovery Day on the Manawatū campus.

Last updated: Thursday 11 July 2024

The tamariki, from 11 local schools, were on campus for a Discovery Day hosted by Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University. This was the third time students had been on the Pukeahu campus and the fourth time on the Manawatū campus as part of the Wānanga Nohinohi te Kunenga Children’s University programme.

Children’s University is an international awards scheme for primary school tamariki that encourages, tracks and celebrates their participation in learning ‘beyond the classroom’.

Manawatū Programme Coordinator Bettina Anderson says, “Our plan for the day was to fuel imaginations and spark interest in subjects that students might like to pursue in the future.”.

Following a mihi whakatau and welcome to campus, students rotate through group activities throughout the morning. Each activity is designed to showcase different aspects of student life, the campus or some of the subjects ākonga could be inspired to study in the future.

On the Pukeahu campus, students got the chance to experience aspects of screen arts, music, sport and exercise, as well as hear about scholarships from Education New Zealand, being a global citizen and stories of Matariki.

Wellington Programme Coordinator Naomi Westrupp says, “Tamariki were able to operate cameras and auto cues, control sound and camera angles and act on the ‘school spirit’ theme where they did a rap, cheer, chant or song about their school.” .

“There was so much enthusiasm from the ākonga and the day was fun and exciting, with moments for discovery and exploration, challenge, whakawhanaunatanga and reflection.”

On the Manawatū campus, tamariki had the chance to explore the animal care and surgical skills needed to become a veterinarian, see and learn about recovering injured birds at Wildbase Hospital, examine worms and soil microbiology under microscopes, observe river erosion processes, learn about Matariki and Te Ao Māori, and then finish their day with an introduction to sport, exercise and nutrition at the Recreation Centre - as the Wellington students had done.

“The curiosity our youngest learners bring to campus is outstanding. One teacher commented to me that a couple of years back before they started the Children’s University programme their students did not dream so much about their futures, but now they regularly have those sorts of conversations with them and the leave Discovery Day buzzing with possibilities and ideas,” Ms Anderson says.

“Amazing things happen within the walls of labs and teaching spaces at Massey - I’m continually inspired by what I see our academic staff showing Children’s University students on Discovery Day and am very grateful to them for fuelling these young imaginations and their dreams.”

In 2023, Manawatū Children’s University students had their graduation ceremony included with the university’s Manawatū graduation events in November at the Regent on Broadway. It was further incentive to earn the 30 hours of ‘outside the classroom' learning that they need to graduate from the programme, and will be repeated in 2024.

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