SUPPORTING YOUNG SCIENCE MINDS
House of Science is a programme which supplies schools with ready-made science kits to ignite a love of science in young minds. It is credited with making science fun for a generation of Kiwi kids who will have opportunities for careers in related areas such as engineering, innovation and product development. Trinity Lands has funded the establishment of a South Waikato branch of the not-for-profit organisation, and committed to keeping it going for the next three years.
Olive Mills loves science. The nine-year-old from Karapiro School peers out from below her eyebrows and opens her eyes wide.
“What I like about science is that you never know what is going to happen so you kinda just like test something and then you’re like: Wow! Look at that.”
Olive’s science learning is supported by resources provided by an innovative in-school programme called House of Science. The programme was founded in Tauranga as a way to tune Kiwi kids in to the oft-maligned, but increasingly important, subject. Kits covering a world of scientific topics are delivered to schools in giant plastic buckets, ready to be dealt out, ripped in to, and discovered by eager young scientists.
Karapiro School, near Cambridge, has 67 kids. It is in the process of building a 10sqm science lab.
Principal Tina-Maree Thatcher says House of Science is playing a key role in advancing the school’s science strategy.
“When the very first House of Science kits arrived in our school, the lids were open and the teachers went Wow! This is an amazing resource that we can pick up and use straight away. One kit, and the kids were hooked.”
Room 2 teacher Harriet Embling teaches 8 and 9 year olds. They have done experiments covering the process of condensation, attempted mixing of unmixable liquids, and rocket-making. She says her 13 students have made it clear they would love to do science all day, every day.
“The response to science in my classroom is just overwhelmingly excited.”
Tina-Maree says the kits have developed a deeper understanding of science, and love of the subject, in her school.
“What we noticed about the changes in the children using the House of Science kits is the link with the vocabulary of science, the thinking and learning around science has improved, and the children have been able to use real-life resources and technologies that are associated with the science curriculum. We’ve got some great science thinkers”.
Vivienne Clarke is general manager of House of Science, South Waikato. Trinity Lands donated $45,000 to establish the South Waikato branch and pledged another $25,000 a year for the next three years.
“House of Science South Waikato is funded by Trinity Lands,” Vivienne says. “Without Trinity Lands we would not exist – they’ve enabled us to get up and going.”
There are more than 80 primary schools in the South Waikato and in just under two years, House of Science has been invited to lend its resources to 26 of them. Surveys show 75 percent of teachers feel more confident to teach science when using House of Science kits.
Luke Goodwin is a former high school teacher, a parent of children at Karapiro School, and a trustee of one of the Trinity Lands owner trusts, Longview Trust.
As a parent, he has noticed the House of Science programme is making a difference to the way his own children talk about science and their attitudes to the subject.
“They’re way more jazzed about it than I can imagine myself being when I was their age.
Luke married in to a family which descends from the original trust founders and he says it is gratifying to see the impact Trinity Lands’ charitable grants are having in the community.
“It’s really gratifying to see the things you are funding are making a difference.”