Edwards, a biology specialist, says there is a demand in STEM industries for females, and for more diverse workforces.   

“There is a lot of potential for Pasifika students to explore these areas of learning at school to inspire them to follow these subjects through to further study and career opportunities,” Edwards says.

To inspire some of her students, Edwards, who has an interest in learning more about how WEGC can integrate STEM across the science curriculum and across curriculum areas, accompanied 27 Pasifika Year 10s to experience a day of hands-on STEM activities at The Mind Lab by Unitec, in Petone.

The visit to encourage learning through exploration and discovery was made possible due to funding from the Ministry of Pacific Peoples pilot programme Toloa Kenese Club programme.

This programme provides opportunities for Pasifika Year 7 to Year 11 students from schools in Wellington and Christchurch regions to participate in an interactive learning experience at The Mind Lab.   

“Students discovered how to use coding and electronics to make music and used 3D design programmes and processes to create their own jewellery,” Edwards says.

“Students also had an inspiring talk from Tyrone McAuley one of the founders of Pik Pok game development studio.”

The intended outcome of getting Pasifika students engaged with STEM was certainly achieved, Edwards continues.

“Students were incredibly engaged and worked collaboratively to solve problems and explore.

“Students used new technologies and saw how and understanding of STEM could enable them to make and do some amazing things, and students can return to school and share their learning with their peers in WEGC new STEM Maker@EAST space, which has just opened.” 

WEGC has a range of equipment and technology for students to build their STEM skills in this space, which is also open in break-times for student exploration and discovery.”

Traditionally, STEM subjects have been seen and taught as individual pursuits, and seen as stand-alone subjects without obvious connections to the real world at times, the teacher explains.

“This is no longer the case and schools around New Zealand are working hard to collaborate across curriculum areas and to engage with real world problems where students solve problems and take action in their communities.

“This work requires collaboration and a range of twenty-first century skills that we are working hard to develop in our students so they are prepared for the ever-changing world they will emerge into after their schooling.”

Edwards sees her Pasifika students as vibrant, enthusiastic young females, who work brilliantly in collaborative situations where learning from each other and sharing skills is valued.

This type of hands-on STEM work, which involves multiple skills and working together to solve problems, lends itself to these students, she says.

“Pasifika students often enjoy practical activities where they can make, play and explore for themselves, with teachers acting as facilitators only to enable student led learning.”