Saturday, May 25, 2024

Rocket Lab opening avenues with educators 

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Pakuranga College, Sandy Collier was among 13 educators to visit Rocket Lab’s rocket manufacturing facility last month. 

Pakuranga College Earth and Space science teacher Sandy Collier was one among 13 educators across New Zealand to visit Rocket Lab’s Auckland rocket building factory last month.

The American-New Zealand company, founded by Peter Beck in 2006, provides rockets to deliver payloads into orbit from its launch site on the Māhia Peninsula, in New Zealand’s north.

The typical function of these payloads is environmental monitoring, meaning that they either monitor land use, climate change or telecommunications.

All components for the rockets are manufactured at the Auckland factory with a staff of over 600 people.

The rocket manufacturing factory, based in Mount Wellington, has just started a new educators’ programme to provide teachers with insight into vocational pathways and professions in the NZ and international space industry.

“The aim is to bring people from across New Zealand together, with a passion for science and people that are somehow involved in teaching our children about the opportunities in space and the technologies related to that going forward,” says Collier.

Over the two-day programme, educators learnt about the company and brainstormed how they could use Rocket Lab context to bring into their teaching about physics, space science, technology or whatever the case may be.

“What was exciting for Pakuranga College specifically is all the potential avenues of how students can actually get involved in the space industry nowadays,” says Collier.

Collier says that historically when people talk about space and rockets, they think you must be a scientist or an engineer, but Rocket Lab has exceptional opportunities for people in every field, regardless of interests or educational background.

“What I would like us to explore are more cross-curricular activities between science, technology and art,” says Collier.

“I know a lot of art students over the past year have been very passionate about using space as a context for their design,” she says.

There will be an opportunity for Collier to take 25 students to visit the factory next year, which she says will be very difficult to choose.

“We might have to run an in-house competition to see who is really passionate about it, because I don’t just want to take scientists,” she says.

“I want us to support some of our students to potentially get an internship or scholarship with Rocket Lab,” Collier says.

Founder, Peter Beck’s advice to youth wanting to get involved in the space industry is “follow your passion”.

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