Bilingual science kits could be the big winners of Celebrity Treasure Island NZ

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Te Whare Pūtaiao, the House of Science, aims to bring its ready-made science education to every single school in South Auckland.

Read this story here in te reo Māori and English / Pānuitia tēnei i te reo Māori me te reo Pākehā ki konei.

It’s off to a good start – of the 80 schools in the South Auckland region, 17 are already registered to receive bi-weekly kits in their classrooms, teaching everything from forensics to electronics, climate change and the ocean ecosystem.

The kits are delivered to schools in easy to unpack and meticulously labeled plastic tubs with materials for each child in the classroom and practice guides for the teachers in both English and Te Reo Māori, making them easy for kura kaupapa to use too.

Now, thanks to Dr. Auckland University Research Fellow Joel Rindelaub, a new ambassador and a chance to win $100,000.

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Rindelaub, who has been passionate about ventilation and vaccination in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, is an aerosol chemist.

He is also a contestant on Celebrity Treasure Island New Zealand and competes for House of Science, his charity of choice.

“I think they fill a big gap in New Zealand education by providing children with hands-on science demonstrations,” Rindelaub said of Te Whare Pūtaiao.

dr  Joel Rindelaub is now a contestant on Celebrity Treasure Island.

Cole Eastham-Farrelly/RNZ

dr Joel Rindelaub is now a contestant on Celebrity Treasure Island.

“They do a great job of making science exciting and helping to build the next generation of learners and explorers.”

At Wymondley School, one of 17 South Auckland schools already enrolled in the programme, the science kits are helping even the less enthusiastic children get involved.

Ten-year-old Losaline Vainikolo said she wasn’t a huge science fan before this year but has become more intrigued since the kits were introduced in her classroom.

On Tuesday, Wymondley School students learned about the interconnected food webs in the ocean and how if one piece of the puzzle dies out, others might follow.

SAPEER MAYRON/stuff

On Tuesday, Wymondley School students learned about the interconnected food webs in the ocean and how if one piece of the puzzle dies out, others might follow.

She said science classes haven’t always been as active as they are now, when students have to stand up and move around while they study.

“There was basically a lot of talk but no investigation,” agreed Amariah Tu, 10.

When Things attended Ōtara Elementary School, the students learned about the ecosystem of the ocean and how precarious the whole system is.

Wymondley School students Tori-lee Nganu, Losaline Vainikolo and Amariah Tu say the House of Science kits make lessons more interesting.

SAPEER MAYRON/stuff

Wymondley School students Tori-lee Nganu, Losaline Vainikolo and Amariah Tu say the House of Science kits make lessons more interesting.

Each child wore a ribbon around their necks depicting a sea creature. On the back they had pictures of their food. The class had to find their food and connect it with a piece of string to form a complex “food web”.

Suddenly every plankton died out and had to sit down. Anyone who relied on them for food? dead too

Class teacher Robyn Wills said that since science is not her own passion, the kits make teaching that much more engaging.

Robyn Wills says her class of 4th and 5th graders is excited to be using the House of Science kits.

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Robyn Wills says her class of 4th and 5th graders is excited to be using the House of Science kits.

Plus, there’s enough for everyone and ready for them, meaning less rushing to prepare lesson materials.

“The kids will ask more questions – and they may not be while we’re doing it, but they’ll make a connection to something we’re doing reading or doing math.

“Because it’s so tactile and not ‘boring old science,’ it’s great.”

Rindelaub said the kits would improve not only science literacy but also confidence in this generation of students, particularly for Māori and Pasifika, who are now underrepresented in the science professions.

Andrea Lun, director of House of Science's South Auckland branch, says she can't wait to get more kits to more local schools.

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Andrea Lun, director of House of Science’s South Auckland branch, says she can’t wait to get more kits to more local schools.

“We need to delve deeper into the South Auckland region to bring science to them in an engaging way,” he said.

“That’s something this particular branch of the House of Science wants to achieve.”

If Rindelaub manages to win this $100,000 prize, Andrea Lun, head of House of Science’s South Auckland branch, hopes to buy a van to have kits delivered to schools.

After that, she needs to fund more kits for more schools. They cost $2500 (plus VAT) which covers building the kit, replacing equipment and parts after each use, and transportation to and from schools.

However, they are subsidized for the schools. A school can get a fortnightly kit for a classroom for $800 plus GST per year – about $1 per student per week, and two kits every two weeks is $1200 per year.

The kits are often sponsored by corporations, and larger organizations even step in to help fund employee salaries.

Lun said the more sponsors House of Science has, the more schools could be part of the program.

To sponsor or donate a kit, visit the Home of the House of Science or Give a little side.

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