On International Women in Engineering Day in Aotearoa New Zealand, Alison Andrew (Chief Executive of Transpower and a trained engineer) and Rosalind Archer (President of Engineering New Zealand) will announce a new STEM in-school partnership called the Wonder Project Power Challenge. As part of the announcement, Alison and Rosalind are visiting a class of 11 – 13 year old students at Kōwhai Intermediate in Auckland, who will participate in the Wonder Project Power Challenge pilot from 26 July. During the visit they’ll be talking all things STEM (specifically engineering) and checking out some of the hands-on materials students will get to work with during the challenge.

These two inspirational women in engineering are leaders committed to a dynamic and diverse future workforce. In Aotearoa New Zealand, we’re going to need thousands more highly skilled people in the energy sector as we work to create a low-carbon future. Getting young people from all walks of life interested in STEM careers is an important step.

The Wonder Project Power Challenge is a fun, hands-on way for young people to learn how we can use different energy sources to create electricity and deliver power to our homes and communities.

The 8-week challenge is free for schools and has been designed for 11 – 13 year olds. It will pilot in around 30 classrooms from Monday, 26 July and roll out nationwide in 2022. It will be an annual event across Aotearoa New Zealand in Term 3 for year 7 and 8 students.

As part of the Power Challenge, children will use renewable energy to light up their town of the future, with the support of their teacher and a volunteer Wonder Project Ambassador – a local STEM professional.

Students will be encouraged to think like engineers, build and test their own prototypes and use teamwork, problem solving and creativity to keep the lights on, the schools open and the hospitals running.

Rosalind Archer, Engineering New Zealand President says engineering is one of the fastest growing fields in the world, but in Aotearoa we don’t have enough young people pursuing engineering careers:

“We need to get more Kiwi kids keen on STEM. Research tells us intermediate years can be pivotal, as it’s when young people start making decisions that inform later career options. Unfortunately, this is when many disengage with STEM subjects.

“Our hope is every school in Aotearoa will experience the Wonder Project and for all our challenges to have a te reo version for kura kaupapa and Māori immersion classes.”

Transpower Chief Executive, Alison Andrew, says she’s proud to partner with Engineering New Zealand and the shared commitment to inspire children to pursue STEM careers:

“The Wonder Project is a great way to build curiosity, confidence and a commitment to STEM. We are highly impressed with how Engineering New Zealand curates innovative and interactive learning materials, and how the Wonder Project supports teachers to provide students the best STEM experience they can.

“We’re proud and excited to co-create and financially back the Power Challenge. We have our own Transpower people signing up as Ambassadors to work in classrooms with teachers and students and are keen to encourage more of the sector to join us. It’s a great way to share knowledge and pay it forward.”