The Mind Lab by Unitec is taking a multi-levelled approach to helping New Zealand children to extend their knowledge and learning outcomes through the meaningful use of technology. The Mind Lab first started by teaching school students, and then they offered teacher development opportunities.
Support for children was partly prompted by gender inequity. The Mind Lab was concerned that by the time young females are offered technology or ICT as a subject in our school system, most opted out because it was perceived it as a “highly male-based subject.”
The Mind Lab’s response was to launch a school programme in 2013, which has now grown to four regional laboratories in Auckland, Gisborne, Wellington and Christchurch, and eight satellite labs run from the premises of schools in areas including Whanganui, Rotorua, Whangarei, Ruatoria, Hawkes Bay, Tauranga, Albany, Manurewa and Papatoetoe.
Each year 40,000 students attend hands-on active workshops. These workshops provide the opportunity for girls to explore technologies such as 3D modelling and 3D printing, coding, visual effects, robotics, and animation at The Mind Lab from a young age develops an early passion for ICT and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
To advocate for teachers, The Mind Lab set up a post-graduate programme to help enhance understanding of leadership, technology, research and applied practice. With the majority of school teachers being female and older than 50, The Mind Lab set out to ensure this audience was comfortable and confident returning to education to better understand the use of technology. This year 1,400 teachers will study with The Mind Lab.