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Schools dominate Neighbourhood Engineer Awards

14 November 2007

Auckland schools dominate Neighbourhood Engineer Awards

Two Auckland schools' technology projects won the 2007 Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards.

Papakura's Sunnyhills School and Glendowie's Churchill Park School each won a first prize of $2000.00. Green Bay School, Bayswater School, Browns Bay School and Clevedon Primary, all of Auckland were awarded merit prizes which consisted of $500.00 each.

The annual Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards recognises the best and most innovative collaboration between students, teachers and volunteer engineers. The aim of the awards is to create a greater awareness of the engineering profession and encourage innovative thinking in the areas of engineering and technology.

Neighbourhood Engineers Awards Co-ordinator, Susan Weekes says the successful projects demonstrated good technological practice - identify a problem, assess the options and make decisions that lead to a solution.

"The emphasis is on 'neighbourhood' - on practical, close-to-home projects that have a positive impact on the school or local community", says Mrs Weekes.

Sunnyhills School's winning project "Traffic Tamers" identified that their existing areas used by parents to drop off and pick up their children posed several dangers to student safety. With assistance from Traffic Engineer Jerry Khoo and Transportation Modeller Anita Lin, the group of 13 year six students designed a solution that included a road and traffic safety awareness campaign, walking buses and a proposal to their local council for a drop off zone at the school entrance. Manukau City Council has now approved the drop off zone for the school gate.

Deputy Principal Judy Haden says the students developed their skills designing solutions, creating surveys, web searches, asking relevant questions, phoning councils, writing letters and formulating motivational posters. She says the project required teamwork, research and input from a variety of 'experts' including engineers, their peers and teachers, the Auckland Regional Territorial Authority Traffic co-ordinations, parents and the wider community.

Churchill Park School's winning project "Zero Waste" was based around educating and implementing the best practices required to create a zero-waste school and in the long-term a zero-waste community. A class of 29 year four students decided their mission was: "to challenge and change the attitudes and habits of people through the medium of educating children to think 'intelligently' about 'rubbish'."

Under the guidance of engineer, Rob Smith of Burr Engineering, the students investigated the volume and cost of waste leaving the school, met with Auckland City Council's education officer about waste initiatives, surveyed their school community to learn how willing their peers were to be involved and designed a worm farm.

Class teacher, Shane Ross said that the class recognised that no one solution, however brilliant would work unless people could be persuaded to change their behaviour.

"Zero Waste meant recycling those items that could and then sending children home with those items that couldn't be recycled to try and impact the use of these by getting parents to think about reducing packaging through sensible buying."

This year 24 project entries were entered by primary, intermediate and secondary schools. Convener of judges, Murray Isdale, said the long term aim of the awards is to excite and inspire more students to study for a career in technology, engineering and science.

"All entries included workbooks and notes from the students, teachers and engineers and it was obvious that everyone gained from participation. Children and teachers found an understanding of how engineering fits into the everyday context and engineers no doubt learnt some lessons from tomorrow's engineers."

Transpower Communications Manager Rebecca Wilson says:"We are delighted to sponsor the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineer's awards for the seventh year. Support for education and our young engineers is an investment for the future".

The Awards are open to all primary, intermediate and secondary schools in New Zealand and are a practical way to enhance the technology curriculum.

ENDS

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