Seven GrowingNZ Innovation Challenge Days were held this year in Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill. The event attracted 64 secondary schools/teachers and 500+ students.
In addition to the facilitated GrowingNZ Innovation Challenge days, a teacher-led resource is available for schools to host the event themselves.
Every term, schools throughout New Zealand can also submit an entry to be judged. In Term 3, we received 44 entries, and the winner was Carmel College. Congratulations!
The fast-paced Innovation Days give Year 9 - 11 students the opportunity to use investigative research and practical knowledge of science, technology and business to solve a series of real-life challenges facing our primary sectors.
Facilitated by the Young Enterprise Trust, the GrowingNZ events were funded primarily by DairyNZ with support from Beef + Lamb. GrowingNZ brings together the challenges from members who represent different primary sectors, sources sector representatives and supports everyone involved at each event.
Teams of four students from different schools are presented with one of seven challenges. This year's challenges were as diverse as ever, including: keeping cows cool in hot weather; developing a traceability system for tracking timber products from an overseas market back to the NZ forest where it was grown; and coming up with a solution to identify areas of land susceptible to pugging and limit the likelihood of damage to pasture.
Each team is provided with background information about their challenge then left to brainstorm, design and build a rough prototype solution. The sector representatives act as advisors, coaches and role models who inspire the students about future opportunities in New Zealand’s primary sectors. Teams present their solution back to the representatives for judging, with the winners of each challenge then presenting to everyone.
Paul Newsom, School Engagement Manager for the Young Enterprise Trust was impressed by how the students rose to the challenge at this year’s events. “Their ideas are exactly what innovative start-ups are developing right now. The challenge days prove to students that their ideas are not just a possibility but, in some cases, commercial realities attracting millions of dollars in funding.”
Feedback from teachers and students was very positive too. Students attending the Wellington event were grateful for different reasons: “It broadened my idea of what the primary sectors are – not just farming. Until today I didn’t know there were so many issues that need solving and jobs for people like me.”
One teacher commented: “It gave the girls a chance to think outside the square and see how science, business and technology can solve real-life problems.”
Another teacher asked their students on the drive home what they thought about a team entering next year. “There was a resounding yes! When I asked about any recommendations I should make to potential students next year, they said, ‘None! We want to go again so just take us!’”
Most importantly though, the Innovation Challenge Days are effective in changing students’ perceptions and increasing their awareness of career opportunities in our primary sectors.
Schools can submit entries for the Term 4 competition until 3 December 2018.
For further information, visit our Teacher Resources page