Maori youth initiative gets more funding

Professor John Clayton with the team from Tokorau – Institute of Indigenous Innovation and Design. Supplied photo.

A robotics initiative by Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi has been awarded increased funding to support the growth of computational thinking among Maori students in Gisborne, Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Northland regions.

Professor John Clayton and the team from Tokorau – Institute for Indigenous Innovation have been awarded increased funding from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The funding comes from the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable funding initiative created to increase engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Awanuiarangi CEO, Professor Wiremu Doherty, said the RoboPa initiative aligns well with the Awanuiarangi vision of engaging learners in STEM activities.

“This is an initiative in which – through culturally and Te Reo aligned project-based learning experiences – Maori youth actively engage with entrepreneurial thinking practices, modern technologies, software and equipment,” says Wiremu.

Learning Facilitators Thomas Mitai and Rochelle Rapana says RoboPa, as a portable maker-space, is designed to encourage Maori students and emerging teachers to engage in computational thinking practices, scientific approaches and technological innovation.

This work had proven to be engaging and successful in previous RoboPa activities and the significant increased support for RoboPa was an indication of the ongoing potential of this innovative approach, they say.

John believes supporting Maori youth through this initiative – particularly those who have fewer opportunities to engage – will continue to encourage Maori students to participate further in STEM activities.

“This will help equip our rangatahi to become great innovators and creators in the highly skilled, digitally driven environments they will encounter as part of the 21st-century workforce,” says John.

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