Award winning digital and creative education lab, The Mind Lab by Unitec achieved a double last week. A new lab was officially opened in Wellington by Hon Steven Joyce – and it was unveiled as a finalist in the New Zealand Hi-Tech Awards last night as one of the country’s most innovative initiatives.
Dedicated to the world of science, technology and discovery, The Mind Lab by Unitec is a unique education offering for children and their teachers, designed to encourage a new generation of creators and makers, innovators and thinkers.
The Mind Lab by Unitec is a collaboration between New Zealand’s largest ITP (Institute of Technology and Polytechnic) Unitec Institute of Technology and a specialist education lab dedicated to enhancing digital capability and collaborative teaching methods in the classroom.
Located in the ground floor of the IBM Tower in Victoria Street Petone, the Wellington Mind Lab will be the third in New Zealand so far, with the others located in Auckland and Gisborne and further expansion planned this year.
Centre Director Matt Richards joins the Wellington Mind Lab from his previous role as Director of EdTech and Innovation at St Columba School in New South Wales. He says he is thrilled to be leading the multi-disciplinary, specialist lab offering integrated workshops for students and teachers across a broad spectrum of creative and scientific technologies including; coding, 3D modelling and printing, science, robotics, game development, electronics, film effects and animation.
The Mind Lab by Unitec is also redefining professional development for teachers through the offering of an applied, progressive and blended NZQA-accredited, 32 week part time qualification the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning).
In collaboration with NEXT Foundation, a philanthropic group which supports education projects that contribute to New Zealand’s long term knowledge capital and performance, Wellington state school teachers are eligible for one of 800 scholarships to enrol in the postgraduate programme in 2015.
“To better educate our children, we need to help empower teachers, supporting them to use new technology, online learning tools and problem solving activities to transform their classrooms, their schools and their communities,” says Frances Valintine, Founder and Chair of The Mind Lab by Unitec.
“Teachers are grappling with how to teach a generation of kids that have access to devices that enable them to share, communicate and connect in a very different way to when they trained as teachers. Teachers want to be supported with development programmes that allow them to explore this world and integrate online learning practices into their teaching practice.
We live in a super charged, fast moving world where replacement body parts can be printed on a 3D printer, where cars can drive themselves and where you can book scenic flights to outer space. If we fool ourselves for even a moment that technology skills are not essential for future success, we risk preparing our students for a world that no longer exists.
We need our future generation to be innovators, creators and inventors. We need scientists, technologists and entrepreneurs beyond the obvious economic benefits of developing highly skilled graduates who create tech focused products and services. There are many social gains that come from developing skills where there are great opportunities for our students’ future employment.”
Philippa Nicoll Antipas, previously Future Learning Leader at Wellington’s Samuel Marsden Collegiate School has been appointed to run the postgraduate programme in Wellington.
The NEXT Generation Teacher scholarships will allow more teachers to access the Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning) and get the skills and knowledge they need to prepare young learners for an increasingly digital future. The pace of technological change has led to a growing need for teachers and schools to consistently integrate digital literacy into the curriculum, and build an education system that sets our children up for a successful and rewarding future in a technology-enabled world. The course is designed to help teachers at all levels build knowledge, improve their technical capacity and confidence and learn new ways of engaging students.
Over the next five years additional new sites are planned with the goal of teaching 10,000 teachers and over 180,000 school students.
In 2014, The Mind Lab by Unitec won Best Engagement of Youth in ICT at the New Zealand CIO Awards, the NZ Innovators Award for Excellence in Social Innovation, was named in the Idealog Top 10 Most Innovative Businesses of 2014. Founder Frances Valintine was recognised by tech legends Steve Wozniak and Sir Richard Branson, winning Best Start-up in Asia Pacific in the Talent Unleashed Awards. She was also named in the top 10 most innovative people in NZ by Idealog and as a finalist in the New Zealand Women of Influence Awards 2014.
The Mind Lab by Unitec has been announced as a finalist in the Most Innovative Initiative for the 2015 Hi Tech Awards.
For more information on school group visits, school holiday programmes, teacher professional development and the postgraduate programme visit www.themindlab.com.