Teachers learn new skills to teach science to primary school students

Posted on 3 March 2020

Lower Hutt primary school teachers will be taking the lead in promoting science innovation through a new scholarship, launched by Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace at an event hosted at the Open Polytechnic.

The graduate qualifications in primary science teaching offered by the Open Polytechnic are open to teachers across New Zealand.

At the breakfast event held in the Reception area the Mayor announced 49 Hutt City Mayoral Scholarships for primary school teachers in Lower Hutt. The scholarships will be funded by the Hutt City Council, Open Polytechnic and GNS Science over the next two years.

“Teachers will be able to learn new skills that will help them capture children’s interest in science,” says the Mayor. “The best time to generate enthusiasm for science is at the primary school level and the Open Polytechnic has taken up the challenge to lead the way.”

The Open Polytechnic graduate qualifications are designed to increase the confidence and ability of primary school teachers to teach science.

The Mayoral Scholarships will cover the course fees for one teacher from each local primary school in Lower Hutt to complete the Open Polytechnic’s new graduate primary science teaching qualification.

The Minister for Science and Innovation, Steven Joyce, in a personal message read at the launch, said the government was committed to science and innovation in the delivery of prosperity and wellbeing for all New Zealanders.

He said by investing in science there was a better chance of finding innovative solutions to issues facing New Zealand and the new course would help teachers bring science to a generation who are learning faster and earlier than their parents.

Open Polytechnic Chief Executive, Dr Caroline Seelig, is enthusiastic about the new scholarship programme. “The teachers participating in the scholarship programme will be able to fit their studies around their work,” she says. ”They will be able to apply their learning into the classroom the next day.”

“I’m really hopeful we will see an upsurge in the number of scientists who are making ground-breaking discoveries – and who will be able to credit their primary school teacher with having inspired them,” she says.

“We are also pleased that GNS Science is supporting this scholarship programme and has offered to host peer support groups for Lower Hutt teachers during their studies.”

GNS Science Chief Executive Dr Alex Malahoff is delighted that Open Polytechnic has taken this initiative. “Children need to absorb the passion for understanding the material world from teachers who can convey that passion. We are not necessarily thinking about science career paths here. It is even more important that those children whose only formal exposure to science is during their school years also become responsible citizens, and appreciate the value of science to society and to the economy no matter what career path they follow.”

The launch was attended by principals from primary schools in Lower Hutt.

Photo: Fom left - Hutt City Mayor Ray Wallace, Open Polytechnic Chief Executive Dr Caroline Seelig, and GNS Chief Executive Dr Alex Malahoff.