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Waikino School's $10k win turns shipping container into STEM learning hub

A school in the Coromandel now has an interesting choice of hub for its STEM learning projects – a decked out shipping container complete with solar panels and a 3D printer.

Waikino School, which has just 73 students from Year 0 to Year 6, won third prize of $10,000 as part of the Genesis Energising Young Minds competition.

Both students and teachers alike decided on the solar-powered container. Principal Joanna Wheway says the school wanted to use the funds as a long-term investment.

“We could have gone for $10,000 worth of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) equipment, but the container allows us to do so much more,” says Wheway.

“We've installed a kitchen powered by solar panels, and using the School-gen website, the children can use the data from the solar panels to see how much energy we are generating.

“Some kids designed trapping models for the forest and they are desperate to see how they will come out using the 3D printer,” she continues.

“We've been using the School-gen classroom STEM resources and the kids have been learning a lot and directing their own learning.

Wheway adds that the grant has been a huge deal to the wider community's investment in the school, and the work has paid off.

“From a teaching perspective, it is an opportunity to get some funding that is purely tagged to learning, and that doesn't happen very often.

Genesis Community Investment manager Jenny Burke was impressed with the school's choice – the new solar panels and equipment will bring new opportunities for self-directed STEM learning.

"Students at Waikino School are already involved in applying STEM to their day-to-day learning," says Burke.

“We were so impressed with their community support and the enthusiasm of their teachers and principal. The Waikino students are truly our next generation of innovative problem solvers and we're thrilled to be supporting them.

Each of the five schools that made it to the finals provided a panel of judges with information on the challenges they are facing teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), how they are trying to overcome these and ideas on how they would spend the funding.

Tangimoana School won first prize of $25,000; Aka Aka School won second price of $15,000; and Waikino School won third prize of $10,000.

The Energising Young Minds competition is part of the School-gen programme run by Genesis Energy, which aims to bring solar energy and efficiency to life for students.

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