Inspiring STEM curiosity the fun way in primary ākonga

(Last Updated On: March 21, 2023)

Have a blast and gain confidence teaching STEM by signing up for the Wonder Project Rocket Challenge in 2023. As students design, build and launch their own water rocket, they’ll learn about Newton’s laws, the engineering design process, and working as a team.

‘A fun way to learn’ is the most commonly cited reason why teachers sign up to participate in the Wonder Project Rocket Challenge – a sentiment frequently echoed by their students, and the industry professionals who support the challenge in classrooms across Aotearoa.

The free schools’ programme seamlessly blends the thrill of fun, hands-on activities, like launching rockets, with STEM learning aligned to The New Zealand Curriculum. And by connecting classes with volunteer STEM industry professionals, as well as supplying teaching resources, student resources, and a challenge kit free, participating schools are empowered to teach STEM with confidence.

“From a teacher who was always a bit scared to teach STEM with great confidence, I now absolutely love it thanks to the guidance in the Rocket Challenge!” said a teacher from Bankwood School, Hamilton.

Fun and dynamic

Feedback on last year’s challenge was overwhelmingly positive, highlighting that the opportunity to deliver a fun and dynamic hands-on learning challenge has not only kept students engaged with STEM, but also made the experience teaching STEM more enjoyable.

  • 93% of teachers and 79% of students said they would do it again;
  • 95% of students were fairly or completely engaged in the learning;
  • 57% of students were more interested in STEM jobs after the challenge; and
  • 96% of teachers said their confidence in teaching STEM was increased.

“[The Rocket Challenge] was one of my favourite units of work over my teaching career thus far” said a teacher from Raumati Beach School, Paraparaumu.

Wonder Project challenges are designed to be accessible for kids from all backgrounds to encourage all ākonga to form a connection with STEM. To support this, everyone that signs up for the Rocket Challenge in 2023 will have the option of using student activities in English or te reo Māori.

All learning material is developed alongside teachers, industry professionals and students, and aligned to Level 3 of The New Zealand Curriculum, to take some of the pressure off planning for the school year.

Curriculum links

Rocket Challenge achievement objectives include:

  • Science: Physical world: Physical inquiry and physics concepts. Identify and describe how movement and forces affect the motion of rockets.
  • Technology: Technological knowledge: Technological modelling. Undertake functional modelling of rocket prototypes to inform decision making. Evaluate rocket prototype fitness of purpose to refine further developments.
  • Mathematics and statistics: Geometry and measurement: Measurement and shape. Represent rockets through drawings and models. Use metric units to find length, volume, weight (mass) of the rockets and the angle of rocket launch.

Sign up now for Term 2

The Wonder Project Rocket Challenge is live for registrations. Sign up to be part of the wonder today at or contact for a kōrero with our with project advisors.

Article by the Wonder Project team.

Funded by Callaghan Innovation, The Wonder Project is Engineering New Zealand’s free programme for schools, designed to get young Kiwis excited about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The series of hands-on programmes knit into the New Zealand school curriculum. They’re designed to spark wonder and awe in young Kiwis from Year 5–13 and get them excited about a future STEM career.

INTERFACE March 2023

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