A curriculum-based competition challenges Year 1-13 students to create games or narratives about transport for the future, writes Wayne Erb.
You may have heard an electric car whisking by. The person standing at the bus stop is tracking real-time progress of their bus on a phone app. A rocket launch facility is ready for business in the Hawke’s Bay. We can’t fully predict the pace and range of upcoming transport choices but increasingly it feels like the future is sneaking into our lives.
In Terms 1 and 2, the Future Transport Competition unpacks this fertile context for learning. Student teams can investigate challenges, opportunities and solutions in New Zealand transport. They enter either playable games (digital or non-digital) or narratives (such as videos, digital presentations with student voice, or written or visual articles). Judges will assess entries in Year bands: 1-6, 7-10 and 11-13.
The competition is created by the NZ Transport Agency in conjunction with a teacher reference group. It builds on the success of the 2016 Game Design Competition, with the additional narrative category to cater to broad learning across the curriculum.
Why have this competition?
A focus of the agency’s education work is to provide contexts that get young people thinking and acting as citizens. This supports the New Zealand Curriculum’s vision for young people to be actively involved as contributors to the well-being of the country.
Reference group member Hayden Shaw, a senior leader at Rolleston College, led students through a PE and technology unit on safe cycling for last year’s competition.
“Allowing students to make a real change within their own community makes for some fantastic learning through social action. Future Transport provides a fantastic context for students to do some great learning. And the competition element motivates students.”
Catalyst for deep learning
Rangiora New Life School Principal, and reference group member, Stephen Walters says the competition’s curated source material is a handy starting point for authentic learning.
“Opening the competition up to the primary area is quite exciting because it leads itself to long-form investigations.”
Last year, the school’s Year 10 students were highly commended for a physical activity game designed to raise awareness of the dangers of driving drunk.
“We often talk in education about real life examples that really connect with the students. They were particularly engaged in their learning in class time. And you can tell when they come back at other times that they really were connected with it,” added Walters. “I enjoyed watching them go through the learning process – identifying a problem, working together to come up with a solution and bringing it to a conclusion.
“We talk about that ability to work together as part of a team being an important life-long skill. An opportunity like this is a good thing.”
Practical tips for teaching
Teachers who took part in last year’s competition noted various ways they helped students:
- Check students understood the brief and judging criteria;
- Ensure they had core skills and could find useful information;
- Guidance on a structured design process;
- Use teamwork methods from the IT industry, such as stand-up meetings and reviewing progress after work done in short sprints;
- Help students make use of constructive feedback; and
- Share in their enthusiasm and passion.
Learning in the younger years
“The competition is a great opportunity for students to help future-proof transport,” said Catherine Hunter, a teacher at Mission Heights Junior College, Auckland. “The younger generation will be the commuters, bus riders and cyclists utilising the transport solutions they are creating, while rural areas face their own challenges to address. I suggest students work across several curriculum areas as they find solutions relevant to their community.”
Newmarket Primary School Deputy Principal Virginia Kung suggests taking a close look at what is happening on local streets.
“With transport being relevant to us all in New Zealand and globally, schools could address an aspect of transport in the future using challenges within their own community as a platform.”
Wayne Erb is a freelance writer.
For full details of the Future Transport Competition, plus student and teacher guides, go to