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Big boost to school science programme



OHS science winners-925Otamatea High School has been awarded a $20,000 solar panel package to power it up and help the students learn more about new technology.

Non-profit group Genesis School-gen Trust was set up by Genesis Energy to provide schools with solar, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) equipment to assist and encourage a younger tech-savvy generation to become involved in and help solve real-world problems. 

More than 400 schools across the country applied for STEM packages from a pool of $50,000 with Otamatea High School (OHS) being the only one to be granted a $20,000 package. 

OHS is one of the first to receive STEM equipment from the Trust's first round of funding.

“The school is fortunate to have staff who are passionate about giving students authentic learning experiences, especially within the areas of STEM,” says school principal Rachel Clothier-Simmonds. “And we are already planning cross-curricular subjects to include topics such as business economics and environmental sustainability.” 

This is an award to celebrate for a relatively isolated rural school with limited resources but emphasises the commitment not only of the pupils but also the opportunities available to budding scientists coming through the system.

"This solar equipment package will help engage our students in real-world learning. We are already making plans to create a new cross-curricular programme that will use the solar panel equipment, together with the data it generates, to explore science, mathematics, technology, business economics and sustainability topics."

Deputy principal Dirk Smyth, who made the application on behalf of the school said the primary motivation for seeking solar equipment was to allow educators to develop integrated programmes for students, and to "raise awareness of sustainability and help involve and educate our community on the importance of investing in renewable energy resources.”

Genesis School-gen Trust chair Lee Mauger said OHS’s application stood out as showing a willingness to think outside the classroom and involve and educate the community on the importance of renewable energy.

"Otamatea's application was a good lesson in forward-thinking,” he said.

Budding Year 8-13 scientists and school staff are thrilled with their big award. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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