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SouthSci Newsletter

Tena koutou, tena koutou, tena koutou katoa  

Welcome to our SouthSci newsletter!  

You’re receiving this newsletter because at some point you have been involved with or enquired about SouthSci or the STEM portfolio of work at COMET Auckland. If you’re after more information at any time, check out our website (cometauckland.org.nz/SouthSci) or send us an email STEM@cometauckland.org.nz. 

This year I’ve delivered workshops at both the NZ Primary Teachers Conference, and the TRCC’s Primary Science Hui. The focus of our workshops has been around “value add” and the benefits of co-design in a collaborative STEM teaching model. This is fancy speak for helping teachers to know their worth when it comes to pitching projects with the help of a community expert, in this case a scientist or STEM expert, but applicable across the full curriculum.  


For our teachers: the best way to know your worth when looking to collaborate on a project, is to examine what the other partner wants or could get out of the exchange. Often teachers fall back on the zero sum model, which is not and has never been true: assuming people will do this as a simple favour with no payoff or tangible benefit for them or their staff. 


STEM experts, business and researchers gain a lot of benefit from collaborating with teachers and education in general. These benefits come under a couple of main categories, dependent on organisation or company size and structure, and output goal model. 

The top two are somewhat cold, but a reality under capitalism: 


    Company Charter or Directive for Corporate Social Responsibility management 


    Passive Marketing 

If you’re tangentially helping to increase awareness of their brand or products, or helping them tick the “give back to the community so we look good” box, your collaboration falls into these two categories.  

The third major category of benefit to an organisation from collaborating with you on a project is centred around workforce retention, with three subcategories: 


    Employee management 


    Access to future talent 


    Skill development of current team (small project management, formal and colloquial communications, community engagement, mentoring…) 


    Retention of talent through fun and engaging side projects & fostering a positive employer perception 

You can see from these three major categories that any collaboration with a community or local organisation is going to have at least as much benefit for them as it does for you and your young people. When shaping your approach, you can directly address some of the above, or open up lines of honest communication once you have initiated contact, to see which ones the collaborator is most keen to address first. 

For our STEM professional readers, often it is useful to be aware of the side benefits to your education or community partner, over and above access to your field expertise. Collaborating on a Participatory Science style project can open opportunities for them to learn about local STEM career pathways, provide access to mentors and role models, networking for the teachers for future modules of work, practice for the young people in communicating with experts (eg holding a conversation, oral presentations, formal email practice), and practice in conveying their learning to an external adult/authority figure. 


You all have more power than you think! Get in touch if you’d like to explore a workshop for your team around project idea design and collaborator pitching. 


Ma te wa!


Dr Sarah. 


Read the full August 2019 Newsletter  

April 2019 Newsletter