The sky’s the limit with Nōna te ao

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Creating a dedicated engineering lab for WITT Te Pūkenga ākonga to run experiments and bring theoretical concepts alive is proving a hit. A hybrid classroom with outdated equipment has been transformed into a  welcoming, dedicated lab space to further open the world of practical learning for ākonga.

“In this day and age, watching a PowerPoint or observing is not enough students need to run experiments and test ideas themselves,” says Principal ASM – Engineering Robert Short.

Equipment in the lab, known as Nōna te ao, caters to school students through to those doing Level 6 and 7 programmes.

“The equipment is used to illustrate a principle or run an experiment so the learning can be scaffolded to suit the complexity required.”

The majority of the equipment is designed and configured to replicate industry standards, but on a smaller scale. So when that student graduates they will be familiar with the principles and methodology of the test in the workplace.

“It is this basis that makes such a facility so great, under the Sydney and Dublin accords students are required to undertake practical elements within their studies. By doing so they become more work ready and can take their learning straight to industry, both nationally and internationally, and hit the ground running.”

“The equipment we’ve got is on par with the quality and range you would find at other learning institutes so we can match the learning experience.”

Some of the lab equipment is portable and can be taken out to events and into the field.

“We took our aluminium race tracks and race cars to the EVolocity students to help them determine what variables they could alter to build a vehicle to be as light as possible. The equipment uses Bluetooth and provides feedback and graphs straight away so ākonga could change variables and see the results straight away.”

Nōna te ao was officially opened in November this year. The team driving the new space wanted to have the prestige of a dedicated name. Little did they know how much they would enjoy the naming journey.

“The naming process grew beyond my expectations and ended up being something really awesome. I couldn’t believe it could become that good.”

The collaborative process started with ‘the why’ - the intentions of the space and the reasons for it being, the dreams and aspirations for the physical space and for ākonga.

The discovery process led to the late Kaiarahi Mātāmua Chief Advisor, Māori Equity Peter de Rungs and Deputy Chief Executive, Kaiarahi Allie Hemara-Wahanui choosing part of the whakatauki: Te manu e kai ana i te miro, nōna te ngahere Te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga, nōna te ao for the name, which translates to “The bird who consumes the miro berry, the forest is theirs. The bird who consumes knowledge, the world is theirs”.

“The whakatauaki talks about the importance of learning and that with knowledge, anything is possible and it’s our role to support our students to succeed because we’re only limited by our imagination which felt entirely appropriate for the new space and what as kaiako we’re trying to achieve.”


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