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What do businesses teach the teachers?

Teachers are experiencing first-hand what kind of jobs involve knowledge about science, technology, engineering or maths, thanks to new links with businesses like Air New Zealand.

Teachers visiting Air New Zealand

Teachers in Southern Auckland are now better equipped to show students how science, technology, engineering and maths knowledge is used in the everyday world, thanks to a professional development programme called Teachers in Industry.

These subjects can feature abstract concepts, such as algebra, which students can struggle to see as relevant to their lives. This programme gives primary and secondary school teachers the tools to put these concepts in a real life setting, which helps students see how their futures might look if they were to continue studying these subjects.

Teachers in Industry organises visits that give teachers local to Franklin and Papakura a ‘behind the scenes’ glimpse of a specific industry. So far, the participants have made trips to a broad range of companies in various industries: from construction to steel manufacturing, agriculture and food processing.

“I’ve enjoyed all the visits I attended,” says Louise Callander, a teacher in Waiuku. “I learnt a lot and have a better understanding of the multitude of different aspects within the industries I visited, which included New Zealand Hot House, Hornell Industries and the Kokako Recovery Project.”

Teachers visiting NZ Hothouse

The teachers’ latest trip involved a visit to Air New Zealand, which revealed insights into what it involves to fly a plane and how to ensure it flies safely.

The highlight of this trip was experiencing what it takes to fly a Boeing 787 Dreamliner:

“Watching the faces of the teachers when they came out of the flight simulator was priceless – huge smiles, eyes wide open and buzzing with excitement to tell their students!” says Fiona Scorgie, Marketing Assistant at Air New Zealand Aviation Institute and the lead for the business’s side of the visit.

Teachers with Air NZ hangar simulator

Fiona explains that pilots and aircraft engineers all need to have a good grasp of the core concepts of maths and physics. Because of how closed off the aviation industry normally is from the public for safety and security, encouraging and creating awareness of this among school students can be challenging.

“I think Teachers in Industry is an ‘ideal fit’ for opening up the doors of your business, because it allows these key influencers of our future workforce to see first-hand what you actually do,” she says.

Smaller, more local, businesses have also benefited from the Ministry of Education initiated programme. In conjunction with an industry training organisation, many of these businesses are hoping to continue long-term connections with their neighbouring schools. Through increasing teachers’ knowledge of the types of skills wanted, they hope this will ultimately help create local employment opportunities for both businesses and young people.

“The fact the businesses are local means I get an insight into some of the skills our parents who work in these industries have, which can come in handy when we are looking at specific topics at school,” Louise says.

Teachers visiting a horticulture business

The visits have also had a more tactile influence on school learning experiences, which Louise tells us has changed how both she and her students see science, technology, engineering and maths.

“After hearing Mr Hornell of Hornell Industries talk about how important it was for students to learn to think in 3D, I decided to base some of my units around this concept,” she says.

“Each student used Tinkercad software to design a 3D project and we managed to get the principal so enthused that he okayed the purchase of a 3D printer for the school! My students are all now proud creators of a keyring!”

For more photos, visit the Teachers in Industry Facebook page.

Image credits: Dave Mcleod

About the programme

Teachers in Industry logoTeachers in Industry is managed by The Royal Society of New Zealand. It began as a six-month pilot in two regions (Taranaki and South of Auckland) in 2015 and is now being extended in South Auckland (Franklin and Papakura).

Teachers in Industry

Teachers in Industry

The Teachers in Industry programme connects schools/kura with science or technology-intensive businesses in their community. Find out more
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