House of Science Tauranga aims to change a worrying trend in our education system – that many children enter high school with little to no science knowledge.
General Manager Pam Bassett says science is not given the focus it deserves in the primary and intermediate school curriculum.
“Unfortunately, there is just so little support, resources or funding going to science in schools. It’s no surprise that children end up either uninterested or believing science is too hard for them by the time they get to high school.”
House of Science has several initiatives to help change that, including afterschool and holiday programmes, an increasingly popular robotics club, professional development for teachers, and a library of resource kits for schools.
The resource kits are a big hit with children. Covering a wide range of topics, they are packed with multiple experiments all aligned with the national curriculum, from ‘Who Dunnit?’ forensic science, to exploring electricity making circuits.
A treasure trove of test tubes, magnets, microscopes and more, the kits are loaned out to schools with worksheets and a teacher manual. The membership cost is subsidised significantly to ensure as many schools as possible can access science education that is fun, relevant, and engaging for students and teachers alike.
While the distribution of kits was put on hold during the Covid-19 lockdown, House of Science kept children engaged through fun science experiments, educational videos, and interesting facts shared through their social media. Teachers also had access to resources and student worksheets through the House of Science website, keeping science alive for children through their online learning.
With 49 Western Bay schools receiving the resource kits each week, and over 17,000 students getting access to hands-on science, the kits were in high demand when House of Science could start delivering again from Alert Level 2.
“The schools are so happy to have the kits back in the classrooms. The teachers just love them – they make teaching so easy, and having that hands-on experience with science is so valuable for children. We’re so glad we are back out delivering them.”
When lockdown was announced, House of Science had to cancel their holiday programmes and close their afterschool classes. With many funding applications from gaming trusts also put on hold or declined, they were left with a significant loss in revenue.
House of Science Tauranga sought funding through the WBOP COVID-19 Recovery Fund, to cover their day-to-day operating costs for the next three months. With uncertainties around future funding, the grant of $30,000 will ensure House of Science can keep their science kits in schools and afterschool programmes running.
“The Recovery funding has been amazing; we so appreciate it. It’s allowed us to continue doing what we need to do, from keeping the vans running and restocking the kits, to covering wages. It’s really allowed us to take a bit of a breath and stop panicking. Thank you to our local funders TECT, Acorn Foundation, BayTrust and Tauranga City Council for establishing this joint fund – it truly is helping us survive.”
House of Science relies on the support of volunteers to keep running, particularly to restock the kits and deliver and pick them up from schools. Each resource kit costs $2,000 to produce, and it costs up to $1,200 to restock them all monthly. Sponsorship by generous local organisations help make these kits possible.
To find out how you can help keep science alive for children in our community, whether volunteering as a driver, or sponsoring a resource kit, visit https://houseofscience.nz/tauranga/get-involved/ or contact Pam at 022 377 3209.
Applications for the WBOP COVID-19 Recovery Fund are currently open, and can be made online at https://www.tect.org.nz/covid-19-recovery-fund/.