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RoboPa wins Unlocking Curious Minds funding for Mataatua schools

08 March 2017

(Middle) Professor John Clayton, with the team from Tokorau – Institute of Indigenous Innovation and Design

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi is taking a robotics initiative into Mataatua primary schools and kura to support the growth of digital capability.

Professor John Clayton and the team from Tokorau – Institute of Indigenous Innovation and Design have been awarded $30,000 as part of MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds contestable funding to run RoboPa, a robotics initiative designed to engage Māori students.

Digital technologies will be fully integrated into the New Zealand school curriculum by 2018, and Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi is pleased to support the drive with the RoboPa initiative, Professor Clayton says.

“RoboPa is a portable maker space where Māori youth will engage with modern technologies, software and equipment they do not currently have access to. Practical tasks will be designed to challenge the learners to solve increasingly complex computational tasks in a supported team environment.

“Participants will be shown how to break large abstract problems down into more manageable and comprehensible concepts. They will then be encouraged to construct, test, re-test and reflect on collaborative solutions.”

Thomas Mitai, a member of the Tokorau team, says the design thinking and computational skills that are acquired will encourage students to want to participate further in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

“Māori learners will be equipped with a set of thinking skills through the RoboPa initiative that will one day lead them to become great innovators and creators in digitally driven environments rather than passive consumers of digital services and solutions,” Mr Mitai said.

Te Whare Wānanga o Awanuiārangi and the team at Tokorau are excited about the RoboPa initiative and the digital possibilities that lie ahead for Māori youth and the educational communities of Mataatua.