2007 Award Winners

Sunnyhills School, Pakuranga, Auckland

Thirteen Year 6 students calling themselves the “Traffic Tamers” undertook a project to:

  • design safe drop off zones at the school’s two main gates
  • reinforce road safety messages and safe passenger behaviours to parents and children and
  • relieve traffic congestion at the school gates.

The students developed skills in:

  • Designing solutions
  • Creating a survey and collecting traffic data
  • Web searches
  • Asking relevant questions
  • Phoning councils
  • Writing letters and a newsletter to parents
  • Creating motivational posters
  • Presenting ideas to the school’s Board of Trustees and to meetings of the school community

They also learnt that there are many different types of engineers; that they don’t all drive bulldozers and that planning is a vital part of any project.

Engineer’s comment (Anita Lin, GIPENZ and Jerry Khoo, Beca Infrastructure Ltd):
”It has been an honour to work with the Traffic Tamers as they are very talented and always enthusiastic on the project.  We found the experience fulfilling, fun and challenging.  It was also a unique opportunity for them to solve real life problems.”

Teacher’s comment (Judy Haden):
“The session with my ‘Traffic Tamers’ was definitely the highlight of my week during this project.  They were a motivated, enthusiastic, keen to learn and participate, group of year 6 students.  They were so excited about working with ‘real engineers’.”

“Our principal commented that this was one of the best examples of authentic learning she had observed – high praise indeed!”

Community impact:

  • 2 walking buses were created, averaging around 10 -12 students per day = 24 cars off the road.
  • Manukau City Council has recently approved their proposal for a drop off zone at the school gate between 8am and 9am.

Churchill Park School, Glendowie, Auckland

A class of 29 Year 4 students at Churchill Park School decided to set a goal of creating a zero waste school and eventually a zero waste community.  Their mission involved challenging and changing the attitudes and habits of people by educating them to think intelligently about what is rubbish and what can be recycled.

The students investigated:

  • How much waste was leaving the school and how much did this cost?
  • What was being discarded?
  • What the Auckland City Council was doing about waste initiatives;
  • What other schools were doing in this area;
  • What would the school community be willing to do in order to be involved to make the project work for the school?

A waste audit was undertaken.  This involved sifting through 4 wheelie bins and categorizing materials into un-recyclable, food scraps, paper, plastics and cans.

From this research they decided to investigate and design a worm farm.  They also recycled what they could and sent students home with those items that couldn’t be recycled to try and impact buying habits and ultimately purchasing power.  “We want children to understand the power of ‘voice’ and how it can advocate change.”

They realised that no solution would work unless people could be persuaded to change their behaviour, so they held lunchtime environmental workshops, where they shared new strategies on how to reduce waste with other students.

Engineer’s comment (Rob Smith, Burr Engineering Ltd)
“The children are just amazing.  I had no previous knowledge of worms or their habitats.  Through children collecting information and designs, they were able to communicate to me what it was that they were aiming to achieve, and it made perfect sense.”

Teacher’s comment (Shane Ross)
“Never have I seen a team work in action like this before.  They were inspired, motivated and with a few strong personalities taking leadership, these groups all seemed to naturally slip into their role; executing duties in a very methodical manner.”

“The feedback from parents has been overwhelming.  I get constant emails stating how impressed they are with their child’s knowledge regarding issues concerning the environment.”

Community impact:

  • The school is currently in the process of selling domestic worm farms to the community to reduce 30 -40% of their household waste ending up in landfills.
  • Parents report savings on grocery bills by not buying excessive packaging.
  • More kerbside bins are being used to recycle.
  • There has been a saving of 65% of waste produced by the school with a goal of 75% reduced waste output.
  • They hope to impact manufacturers through consumer purchasing power.

This project also won the Auckland Regional Councils 2007 Sustainability Awards (Youth Category).

2007 Merit Awards

Bayswater School, North Shore City, Auckland

The aim of this project was to provide senior students with a playground that met their developing needs.  This worked well with a learning unit about forces and their impact on everyday situations including play.

The twelve Year 5 & 6 students investigated the effects of gravity and friction on sliding and moving objects.  They applied their knowledge of forces to the real life situation of play where safety regulations and rules affect outcomes.  They investigated materials and costs and then created designs and built models of their ideas to take to the school’s Board of Trustees.  They worked collaboratively to complete scale drawings, models and scrapbooks for their presentations.  These scrapbooks were then submitted as their entry into the Awards.


Engineer’s comment (Craig Schipper, MIPENZ, Emc2):
”I personally have gained a lot from this experience.  The children were great, eager, interested and thoughtful.  My confidence and communication skills with children are improved through this experience.  I learnt that the class responded best by getting them to think, ask probing questions, rather than lecturing them with ideas.”

Teacher’s comment (Carolyn Stennard):
“The students enjoyed Craig’s participation in the class and when he wasn’t there they formulated questions which I emailed to him.  He was able to give specific, detailed answers when he came in.  This proved to be very successful as the students received correct and easy-to-understand information about exactly what they wanted to know.”

Browns Bay School, Browns Bay, Auckland

The aim of this project was to design a more challenging play area which will be used to increase the fitness level of the whole body.  “A fit body means a fit mind”.

Twelve Year 4 Gifted and Talented Extension students researched:

  • what activities develop fitness and what parts of the body are affected by different activities
  • how the body functions and why exercise is good for people
  • where best to locate a fitness trail within the school environment
  • what students wanted in a fitness trail so as to make it attractive and therefore more likely to be used and
  • what designs would be best for these activities, including making it attractive and available to the wider community to use outside of school hours.

A lot of time and effort went into problem solving for this project and their comments indicated that this was an enjoyable part of the process involved.  Like other students, they prepared a presentation to take their ideas to the school’s Board of Trustees.

Engineer’s comment (Andrew Congalton, GIPENZ, Engineering Design Consultants Ltd):
”I was quite surprised at the final result the students managed to come up with.  The simplicity and potential low cost make this a very feasible project to develop and build.  It can provide for participants of all sizes and abilities throughout the course, which was one of the original goals

It was also quite unique to give time back to the school I attended, and work alongside some of the staff who taught me when I was the same age as the students in the group.  I would recommend this experience to anyone who can set aside some time from their workload each month; the rewards are well worth it.”

Teacher’s comment (Karen Cebalo and Brenda Thorrington):
“I have really enjoyed working as a part of a team with the students, Andrew our engineer and people from our school and community.  An experience of working in a truly collaborative environment was enriching for all involved”.

…a wonderful feeling of achievement from being in a real project with a real outcome.”

Clevedon School, Clevedon, Auckland

The aim of this project was to design and build water polo goals which would work in the school pool.  The school was using cones which were limited as they did not allow for the referee to call high no-goals.  The seven year 7 & 8 students looked at: the size and materials that would be required to make them fit, float, durable and easy to fix.  Ideas were drawn on isometric paper and materials were considered – sustainability, product lifecycle, longevity, future upgrades and cost.  Models and prototypes were built and tested before the students had a hand in building the life sized goals.

The students enjoyed thechallenge of building the goals because it was hands on and they were able to see their plans come together.”

Engineer’s comment (Sean Milnes, GIPENZ, New Zealand Steel):
“During my first visit, I discussed my background with them and described what we do at New Zealand Steel, where I work.  The excitement of the kids as I described the processes by which we make steel was refreshing and rewarding.”

“It was very satisfying watching the kids ‘get it’ as we worked through a couple of examples.”

Teacher’s comment (William Pike & Sue Davis, Deputy Principal):
“The group looked forward to their sessions with Sean and returned to class full of enthusiasm for the project as it took shape.  It was fantastic for the students to work with a professional, giving them a true perspective on the design process in a genuine context.”

“Many younger students commented that they hoped they could ‘do that when they were big kids’.”

Participation certificates are also to be given to the 6 year 7& 8 students who were part of the Sandpit project.  Another excellent project – well done!

Green Bay School, Green Bay, Auckland

The aim of this project was to improve the old and rusty bike stands which were not providing any shelter for the bikes.  Access to these stands was another issue as they were located in a difficult part of the school grounds to get to and therefore were not encouraging students to use them.

Six year 7& 8 Gifted & Talented students surveyed and researched their options by asking:

  • what the students and the caretaker wanted
  • what other schools currently have
  • the size and materials that would be required for a new design of stand
  • what restrictions might be placed on their design
  • and how access to the bike stands could be improved.

They took their research results and design ideas to the school’s Board of Trustees.  The outcome has been positive and they are looking forward to seeing the results of their work being put into effect.

Engineer’s comment (Kenny Liew, GIPENZ, Watercare Service Ltd):
It has been a real privilege to work with such an amazing group of children at Green Bay School and I hope my efforts have inspired them to think about engineering as a future career.

I look forward to encouraging other Watercare graduates to follow my lead and get involved with the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards next year”

Teacher’s comment (Phil Spriggs):
“The Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards provided this group of students with a unique opportunity and they rose to the challenge.

It was exciting to watch their development and progression and to have them approach on a regular basis to check that Kenny was coming back soon.  I feel sure that we have kindled an interest that will follow these students to high school and perhaps influence their subject choice.”