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OMGTech!’s Mana Tangata programme delivers for youth


20 December, 2018

Last weekend, youth from all over the country gathered at Papatunauku Kokiri Marae in Mangere East to graduate from Mana Tangata youth leadership programme and celebrate their amazing success.

To address digital inequality and tech sector diversity, the OMGTech! Mana Tangata programme pairs up kids from communities that are not well represented in tech with industry mentors who are currently working in the science and technology sector.

The kids in the programme are between 14 and 17 years of age and come from six different regions. The diversity in the group is a big focus with 75% of the participants being Māori or Pasifika and an equal mix of girls and boys.

The mentors are amazing tech experts from leading-edge companies as Trade Me, MYOB, Spark, Vend, Stretch Sense, Xero, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Nomad8, Unleashed, Vista Entertainment.

During the six-month programme the mentees went through a tech and leadership course aimed at developing core leadership skills as well as further the students’s learning journey in the tech field of their choice. The mentors and mentees also designed and implemented a project using technology to help their community.

Matilde Beccatti, Mana Tangata programme leader says, "It is amazing to see young people utilising the skills that they have gained through the mentorship programme to give back to their community and school and wanting to share their knowledge with their peers.

“The youth understand that value of integrating the knowledge from their ancestors with new technology and are interested in building innovative solutions to make a better future for us all,” says Matilde.

Some of the projects include Rangipo Takuira-Mita’s app called Te Kete Matauranga. During the programme, Rangipo, Year 10 at Te Wharekura O Manurewa has been working on storage database app which holds information about water from three different devices: water testing kits, motion capture cameras and weather stations. “I would like to hold the knowledge about Matauranga Māori by using the Maramataka, the Māori lunar calendar, using korero tuku iho and whakapapa the up cycle of water from the beginning of water all the way to the ending, if there is an ending,” says Rangipo.

During the programme, Julia Sokhon, a year 12 student at Papatoetoe High, discovered a passion for Virtual Reality and, with the help of her mentor and teacher she decided to organise a three-day event for the Year 9 and 10 students in her school to learn more.

“After talking with my teacher, we realised that VR was a growing industry that isn’t exposed in schools. I created this event to expose the kids to something besides computers, we wanted to show them how technology has advanced into VR,” says Julia.

The students visited a virtual reality studio to experience first-hand the immersive power of VR. They also met with Krystal Thompson, Game Developer at award winning VR company Staples VR, who talked to the students about the different technologies that are used in the industry and the pathway she took to becoming a game developer. Krystal gave practical advice to the students on career pathways and encouraging more girls into tech careers.

As part of Julia’s event the students worked on creating a prototype VR app for the school’s induction programme to help guide new students through the enrolment process.

As a culmination of the Mana Tangata programme, Finnian Logan-Riley and Arran Logan-Riley, Year 11 students at Taikura Rudolf Stainer in Hastings, developed a pollution monitoring system with the support of their mentors. The entire project is open source and available for everyone to download as the students want to encourage every city to effectively monitor the pollution in the air and find practical steps forward to minimise the damage to our planet.

“Everything we made is open-source and is on our website. This is where we have a 3D printable model, code and a hardware list.” says Finnian. Thanks to their hard work, the students will be going straight from Year 11 to a bachelor degree in computing systems with a major in intelligent systems.

Awhina-Tawera Takuira-Mita, a Year 12 student at Te Wharekura O Manurewa, has been working on an app which can tell the story of her iwi, their origin and puurakau.

“The app will give a deeper understanding of who you are and where you come from,” says Awhina-Tawera.

Mikaia Tumahi from Trident High School in Whakatane has been working on an app prototype that helps people who suffer from Irlen Syndrome, a perceptual processing disorder which affects 14% of the world population.

This disorder is affecting directly one of the students who is developing the app as well as people in their family and friends circle. People who suffer from from this syndrome are not able to read properly and they are more likely to become disengaged with education.

The app will allow people to scan the words they are reading and bring them up on their screen with a specific background that should help people with this disorder make sense of the words in front of them and better their learning experience.

ENDS

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