2006 Award Winners

Elm Park Primary School, Pakuranga, Auckland

Ten Year 5 and 6 pupils from Elm Park Primary School, calling themselves the Water-feature-ologists, began their project from the inquiry based learning question and challenge: “What can I do to make a difference to my school environment?”

The area outside the international office, where all international students to the school are welcomed, had been identified as a rather plain area and it was decided to give it a makeover. 

The criteria for the project required it to:

  • be child safe
  • be sustainable
  • add value to the school environment
  • be within an allocated budget
  • be approved by the  Principal, BOT and students

The Endeavour class was split into groups and this group decided on a water fountain.  Each student was assigned a role from project manager to note taker and safety manager (to name a few) and a time plan was created to schedule expected outcomes.

Their research (including site analysis of wind and temperature variations, costs of options and learning about different types of pumps) led them to 6 designs.  These were taken to the school community for their comment before presenting the most preferred option to the school management and Board of Trustees.  Supply problems meant a slight change in plans had to be made but these still met the criteria.  The area was landscaped and a presentation to parents was made on celebration evening.

The winning team with their fountain

Engineer’s comment (Eleanor Marks, GIPENZ, Beca AMEC Ltd):

“I thoroughly enjoyed the project; it was a great break from normal engineering and the kids constantly impressed me with their creativity.  They don’t need to be told to think outside the square: they seem to just think that way.  As an engineer you’re quite used to thinking along certain pathways, but the kids were really innovative.  They had enthusiasm for getting right into the project.”

Teacher’s comment (Monica Meikle – Endeavour Programme Learning Advisor):

“For myself, it was reassuring and encouraging to work alongside a technical expert who understood our situation.  Having little knowledge and practical engineering experience I would not have had the confidence to attempt such a challenge.  The benefits were that it was an authentic project so the children could really see how to work as a team and how engineers work…… it was a thoroughly worthwhile learning experience.”


2006 Merit Awards

Otatara School, Invercargill

A group of six Year 2-3 students from Otatara School, worked with Southland District Council engineer Justin Reid, to achieve a merit award for their Outdoors Chess and Checkers Board project.  Consultation with the Principal and school caretaker led the children to consider a range of projects, then rank them according to their pros and cons, before they decided on the project.  Cost and location were carefully considered before support was obtained from the Board of Trustees and the project approved and implemented.  PD workers provided the labour of laying the pavers.  The report that was submitted for the competition was also used in a presentation to the school community at a special assembly.

The chess board at Otatara School

The award money is likely to be spent on a giant plastic chess set for the board.

Engineer’s comment (Justin Reid MIPENZ, Southland District Council):

“The children demonstrated teamwork through electing a team leader and referring to him when they could not agree.  They also grew to understand that doing things a different way and working as a team can produce much better outcomes. …For their age, the children and the wider school, have gained a much better understanding of some basic principles of engineering practice and have had a lot of fun doing it, as have I.”

Teacher’s comment (Sandra Dolman):

“…this project has been an enlightening and encouraging time….The students have been privileged to have affirmation of the value of their ideas from working on this project…..The whole school has been watching with keen anticipation as the project has developed….they have been exposed to new vocabulary, different ideas and production techniques and expansion of theirs and others concepts….The school, me and most importantly the students working on the project have learnt a great deal about the practical, the planning and the process of engineering and they will be able to take the opportunities they have had throughout the project into the future with them.”


St Oran’s College, Lower Hutt

A year 10 student has been inspired to consider a career in engineering after her experience of working with Tony Brennand, an engineer with Sinclair Knight Merz Ltd.  Her project titled “Speedy Scanner” was the result of working with librarians and discovering a need for improvement in the system of returning books to the library, a process she described as laborious and potentially bad for their back health.  Her solution was a device that separated the returned books onto a conveyor belt, with each book then able to pass over a scanner to record the bar code.  She has worked a year on the scanner and made considerable progress in developing her design but there is still some more work required to achieve her ultimate goal.  The process she has taken was the main criteria which won her this merit award.  She also entered her design in the regional science fair, earning 3rd prize in Technology, Class 4, and winning the special Industrial Research Ltd Technology award for her project.

Engineer’s comment (Tony Brennand, Sinclair Knight Merz Ltd):

“I have found the experience of working with Emma and her teachers from St Orans’ College most refreshing and enjoyable.  I have enjoyed the quality of thinking that Emma has applied to this project.  I am encouraged that a young lady has embraced the need to develop technology and has applied herself in developing her “solution”.”

Teacher’s comment (Ayelet Cohen):

“Emma’s project has also allowed us to explore new contexts in implementing the secondary schools’ technology curriculum.  It has embodied important drivers of this curriculum, such as:

  • building on students’ existing knowledge and interests
  • dealing with real identified problems that have multiple solutions
  • involving sharing ideas, presenting concepts and evaluating solutions
  • providing opportunities for a range of people in the community to provide specialist input.

We have enhanced our understanding of the relationship between science and technology and have become more aware of the range of problem-solving techniques that could be applicable in other areas of technology.”


Diocesan School for Girls’, Epsom, Auckland

A year 13 student was given a brief to design an outdoor activity that would appeal to teenagers and encourage them to make the most of the outdoors.  It had to be safe, interesting, appealing to the teenagers, not damage the sand dunes/reserve where it would be used, not be noisy/irritating to neighbours and within budget.  By interviewing the two teenagers (as well as the parents) and getting an understanding of their interests, she learnt the importance of interacting with the client, understanding their needs and working to these.  She also came to value time management skills, the importance of working with others to get feedback and other ideas, the need for lots of research, and making a model first (which provided an opportunity to redefine and revise ideas) before going into full sized production. It was a valuable learning experience that has given her “a vast range of skills and knowledge that she would never have learnt otherwise”. 

Engineer’s comment (Julian Glyn MIPENZ, Prolyze Ltd):

Found it enjoyable to guide the planning stages, to discuss issues, offer advice and watch Lucy arrive at all of the solutions herself, to see her acquire skills so quickly and have the energy to keep going until the solutions were workable.

Teacher’s comment (Gabrielle Ashton):

Working alongside an engineer and technologists has added a totally new dimension to the design work and model produced by Lucy.   The partnership has provided insight into the world of engineering.  This has been the first time the school has been involved with an engineer and it is something that the teacher/school would be keen to promote more of so as to involve more students in the future.

In each case the students researched the issue they decided to address, whether it was a need for more options in the playground, or the strain on librarians’ backs. They analysed possible responses and took their ideas from the initial brainstorm through to the finished model.