Young engineers in the making

LTR: Angelika Timofeeva, Michelle Zhang, Paris Lin, Ryan Johnson, Sarah Baleicakau (Teacher), Samuel Muggleston, Yolanda Franke (Principal), Logan Douglas & Joel Kuruppu. Times photo Wayne Martin

Gone are the days of delivering a traditional technology programme.

With a new focus on mechatronics, students of Howick Intermediate School are working on technology solutions by using a trans-disciplinary approach.

In the classroom, lead teacher Sarah Baleicakau challenges the students to work out the dimensions of a truss bridge that can take the weight of a robotic truck. Students are learning about the angles and dimensions of a bridge underpinned by a scientific component.

“If we want to engage children, they must see the relevance,” says Ms Baleicakau.
Principal Yolande Franke, who has been instrumental in rebuilding the school and turning around its curriculum, is enthused about partnering with industries to see real life application and not just skill-based learning.

“We are excited about our new DigiSTEM programme that we believe is a point of difference. It has a focus on mechatronics,” she says.

“It has a trans-disciplinary approach and students learn how the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) build on one another.

“We want students to experience working as engineers and they will use coding and robotics and the STEM disciplines to address authentic inquiries.”

The eight-week structured programme increases the students’ understanding on how the disciplines are integrated and build on one another.