Topic: Education

Students tackle environmental issues

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes
  • Auckland

South Auckland students' took their education beyond the school curriculum today by creating solutions to some of New Zealand's pressing environmental issues.

Te Kāea took a look at the skills students displayed at the Tiaki Expo.

Over 30 businesses were involved in mentoring students over 5 months to develop their ideas.

Around 1,000 students from the represented schools and members of the public called in to check out some of the ideas on display. 

Students from Te Wharekura o Manurewa created a tool that addresses the water quality of the river that runs behind their school. 

 “It's a device that measures the water quality of the Puhinui River.

 “We want to give it other schools so they can improve the quality of their own rivers and other bodies of water.”

Nine South Auckland secondary schools are presenting environmental innovations aimed at enhancing their local area through STEM-based subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) to a judging panel and the public.

The Tiaki Expo involves year 9-13 students from Manurewa High School, Rosehill College, Aorere College, Wiauku College, Mission Heights Junior College, James Cook High School and Te Wharekura o Manurewa.

Founder of Tiaki, Nicole Stanton says, “Gaining those practical skills, getting out of the classroom and actually having a go in science or STEM-based career that will then have an impact and make a difference to the environment.”

Students are working on a diverse range of environmental projects to address environmental issues from health food school options, food growing systems, plastic waste and wind generation for schools.

“We wanted to see how well soft plastic can act as insulation for the house so we compared actual scoreboard insulation with soft plastic and the results are really good they're really close to each other.”

A number of the schools have opted for waste projects with many schools commenting on the illegal dumping issues in South Auckland.

“In our school not many people use the bins correctly and we did a waste audit and found there's a lot contamination in the wrong bins.”

“So we made an app that can scan rubbish with barcodes and without barcodes so after you scan it it will show you what colour bins you throw it in.”

Tiaki Expo founder Nicole Stanton says it's about breaking down the barriers to science and STEM-based careers.

Nicole Stanton says, “Quite often we get the students say 'oh, a science career is someone who jumps in a white lab and has a coat', but they don't actually realise science and STEM-based careers are the careers that are going to be around in the future.”

The Manukau Beautification Trust aims to increase the number of mentors placed in schools ahead of the event next year.