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Nanogirl Labs And Genesis Announce Partnership To Transform STEM Education In Kiwi Primary Schools

STEMSTARS, the first programme to be launched as part of a planned three-year partnership, set to improve teacher confidence in STEM

Advancing an engaged, diverse STEM workforce is essential for New Zealand to prosper.

Jobs of the future – including in the critical Energy sector – require creative thinkers and innovators with skills across science, technology, engineering and maths

However, just 22% of primary school educators teach science regularly, and by the age of 12, children will usually have made up their minds about pursuing science.

The partnership will deliver $100,000 of free resources to priority schools in the first few months of 2022.

Nanogirl Labs in partnership with Genesis has today launched STEMSTARS – an innovative educational programme purpose-built to transform STEM learning in primary schools.

STEMSTARS is the first programme in a planned three-year partnership, with an ambitious goal of making a positive difference to STEM education in every school in New Zealand.

Created by Nanogirl Labs and thanks to Genesis’ community investment initiative, School-gen, the STEMSTARS programme will be available in classrooms in the new year and will enable Year 3 & 4 teachers to bring STEM learning to life, without the need for prior STEM experience or access to specialist equipment.

The STEM teaching tool has been designed in direct response to the lessons learnt in an impact report authored by Dr Michelle Dickinson (PhD Engineering) Co-Founder of Nanogirl Labs, together with Dr Kate Sparks (PhD Marine Biology) Science Educator, earlier this year.

The report found that 7% of primary school teachers* do not teach science in any of their classes, and just 22% teach the subject regularly, despite forecasts that estimate 80% of future jobs will require maths and science skills. With 80% of Kiwi Year 8 students currently achieving below the desired level in science, STEMSTARS will equip teachers with resources needed to confidently deliver hands-on STEM lessons and empower our young scientists of tomorrow.

The STEMSTARS programme of lessons brings together storytelling, practical experiments and clear learning outcomes. With printed books and instructional videos to guide teachers through eight different topics, from electricity to flight, STEMSTARS offers students a ‘tasting platter’ of STEM fields.

Dr Michelle Dickinson, co-founder at Nanogirl Labs says, “Our brains remember through stories, and that’s the magic of STEMSTARS. Each lesson is designed to help students solve real-world problems while having fun through a Nanogirl adventure story. The programme is designed with accessibility in mind, so no specialist equipment, knowledge or digital devices are needed to help both students and teachers build their STEM skills.”

Fiona Turvey, Senior Partnerships Manager at Genesis says the STEMSTARS launch will work towards empowering New Zealand’s sustainable future by bridging the gap in STEM education.

“Advancing an engaged, diverse STEM workforce in New Zealand is so important for our future generations - our community-based School-gen programme has been backing this ambition for 15 years by providing free STEM resources to learners. This partnership acts on our collective responsibility to help nurture and empower the scientists of tomorrow and we’re really excited to help deliver this incredible teaching tool to as many schools as possible,” says Fiona.

Through the new partnership, STEMSTARS will be available to schools on a ‘Buy One, Give One’ basis – for every copy purchased by or for a school, a copy will be gifted to a school which might not otherwise be able to afford it. With Genesis’ support Nanogirl Labs will gift more than 100 copies of STEMSTARS (a value of more than $100,000) to schools within the first three months of 2022.

“The STEMSTARS launch is just the beginning for Nanogirl Labs and Genesis. The partnership will mean that this purpose-built learning tool is available to more schools, right across the motu. Working together to deliver STEMSTARS, we have the potential to make a real difference in extending STEM education in every school in New Zealand,” says Joe Davis, CEO of Nanogirl Labs.

Created by Nanogirl’s expert science communicators and educators, with integrated te ao Māori concepts and links to the New Zealand Curriculum, STEMSTARS resources are grounded in sustainability principles, helping students learn how to care for their environment while gaining knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths.



Impact report – Hands-on STEM professional development program for teachers in primary schools across New Zealand – available on request.

*In total, 424 teachers answered surveys delivered before and after attending a Nanogirl Labs hands-on STEM PLD workshop. 50% of these teachers were from decile 1-3 schools, 29% from decile 4-7 schools, and the remaining 21% were from decile 8-10 schools. The teachers who responded to the survey had 14 years teaching experience on average, but this varied widely from 0 - 50 years. 85% were female and 15% male which matches the gender diversity within the teaching profession estimated by Statistics New Zealand

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