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School gardens go high tech

School gardens go high tech to teach kids the importance of technology




With the Government’s new digitally focused curriculum being put in place from the first day back at school this year, teachers are finding new and innovative ways to teach and keep up with technology. That’s where the Electric Garden comes in.

The out-of-the-box teaching resource gives teachers who may not be as digitally savvy as the kids they teach, the confidence to deliver on the new digitally focused curriculum. It provides learning modules and on top of growing veges, it teaches kids how to code as well as introduces concepts of sustainability and ‘Kaitiakitanga’.

The resource uses Spark’s LoRaWAN™ or Cat M1 Internet of Things (IoT) networks for connectivity and has been built together with Spark’s technology teams to evolve the infrastructure capability.

Spark Foundation Lead, Kate Thomas says using and learning about new technologies like IoT at a young age will mean kids are set up for success as they later look to enter the job market out of high school or tertiary study and will be in an even more digitally focused world than we are today.

“The internet has changed our lives completely. But the Internet of Things, or IoT in short, is set to transform our lives all over again with everything becoming connected and serving us data to enrich our lives.”

Founded by Charitable Trust, Digital Future Aotearoa, who are on a mission to deliver high quality digital technology education accessible across financial, cultural and geographic lines, the Electric Garden is about more than just monitoring and knowing when your carrots need watering, it’s actually about embedding how the use of technology can lead to more sustainable outcomes and creating digital citizens.

Digital Future Aotearoa GM, Michael Trengrove says introducing technology like the Internet of Things and skills like coding into schools is the new norm.

“To think that kids are now taught about IoT, that sits alongside other tech buzzword like AI, robotics, VR, AR is extraordinary, especially as the technology is still being adopted by New Zealand businesses with only 14% of kiwi business integrating IoT into their businesses which in the near future will soon be considered mainstream and as normal as setting up a broadband connection.”

“Kids who get the opportunity to grow their own Electric Garden will be given the tools to not only plant their own fruit or veges but also monitor them on a dashboard in the classroom, from the data collected through the soil and air sensors. Kids will keep track of their veges and know exactly when to harvest.”

Spark Foundation Lead, Kate Thomas says the programme encompasses everything that the modern classroom needs to get kids future ready.

“Spark Foundation is always looking at ways to equip young New Zealanders for a digital future and what their roles and responsibilities are as digital citizens. Electric garden is the perfect tool to get Kiwi kids learning about technology and how it plays a role in our everyday lives.

Digital Future Aotearoa partnered with Spark Foundation in 2018 to trial the programme in 75 South Island schools with great results. Now they are teaming up again to extend the roll out of the programme nationwide for schools who are interested.

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