Fri 18 Aug 2017

Putaiao expo makes sense of science

More than 350 Year 9 and 10 students from schools throughout Taranaki have been given a taste of science this week.

They were given interactive lessons by WITT tutors as part of a three-day WhyOra Pūtaiao expo, which aims to increase the numbers of Maori students retaining science as a study option, and in turn the number of Maori entering employment in health.

Certificate in Tertiary Studies programme tutor Lisa Dohig said the challenge was to dissuade students from seeing science as too hard, or a subject for “nerds”.

That involved showing the relevance of science in everyday life to students.

Lisa was involved in setting up some of the programmes for students at the Pukekura Function Centre. They were invited to do a series of tests with novel themes – such as taste testing – which involved basic science.

WITT also showed students how understanding science was also a key to employment in other areas, such as engineering.

Tasha Paton, WITT Programme Manager Education and Pathways, said this was the second year the three day programme has run, and the test would come in the next couple of years when  uptake rates for science among Maori students were measured.

“What we do know is that the verbal feedback was positive and the students said they had learnt things. Teachers said they were surprised that over a four hour period, from 10am to 2pm. attention levels were so high.’’

The WhyOra programme is run in Taranaki by the Whakatipuranga Rima Rau Trust. The trust is a joint venture between the Taranaki District Health Board, Ministry of Social Development and Te Whare Punanga Korero Trust. It has funding from the TSB Community Trust.

Expo programme coordinator Carla Jones, promoting the expo, said Whakatipuranga Rima Rau had a vision of improving access and supporting success for Maori in tertiary education in particular in the health and disability field.

“Our intention with the WhyOra programme is to show students what it is like to work in health and to encourage them to take up careers or study in health when they leave school, which we do via workshops run throughout the year at Taranaki Base Hospital.

She said they had over 160 students on the secondary school programme from  schools across Taranaki and also supported students on to tertiary education and in to employment in health.

Tasha Paton said WITT supported the  expo, which ended yesterday, because it provided an avenue to ensure students leaving school for tertiary study were better prepared to enter into training, rather than having to take a Certificate in Tertiary Studies course first.

The decision to concentrate on Year 9 and 10 students was a sensible one, she said, because by Years 12 and 13 students who had hopes of entering the health field were already at a disadvantage if they had dropped science.