A new programme will soon teach school how to garden in a high-tech, sustainable way.
Spark, through its charitable arm Spark Foundation, Microsoft and Code Club Aotearoa have come together to develop the Electric Garden which inspires both students and teachers to grow a love of technology.
Electric Garden is expected to roll out in the Spring, for the next gardening season. With lessons based around sustainable horticulture, students will work on an interactive, hands-on model to develop real-world digital skills. They'll monitor a vege garden, from planting through harvest, and use sensors to control growth factors, such as soil moisture levels.
The programme will initially roll out to schools in the South Island and be available online for all schools across the country to have a hand at electrifying their garden. More than 1,000 students are expected to participate in the programme and use an online portal to share their progress and growth with other schools around the country. To support these students, professional development will be provided to 300 teachers across the South Island to upskill them in entry-level Computer Science and impact a further 7,500 students.
Code Club Aotearoa co-founder Michael Trengrove is excited that the Electric Garden will make computer science concepts accessible to more learners around the country, and in turn, empower the next generation.
"Real-life, applied learning is a vital way to show students that technology can be fun and that there's something for everyone," Trengrove says. "Exposing more of our young talent to coding will enable them to thrive in a digital world, and Aotearoa New Zealand to benefit from a first-rate digital economy."
A contribution from Spark Foundation and Microsoft will help increase opportunities for children in the South Island and provide customised learning materials for their communities.
Microsoft New Zealand’s Corporate and Legal Affairs Lead, Michael Brick, is excited with the possibilities with tech to enable learning through new platforms.
“The pace at which technology is growing in education is exciting yet it presents a double-edged sword, broadening the Digital Divide. With the Electric Garden we’re able to fuse technology and learning in an environment which enables everyone to learn. Microsoft is proud to be a part of that journey here in New Zealand.”
Digital enablement in young people is a focus for Spark Foundation and spokesperson Lynne Le Gros believes the truly useful funding has great potential to improve digital learning outcomes for thousands of students across the country.
"The Digital Divide remains a big issue in New Zealand, so we're thrilled to see a project like the Electric Garden provide equal opportunities for urban and rural schools – and professional development opportunities for teachers, too."
Electric Garden Product Owner, Code Club Aotearoa
027 379 2995
Philanthropies and Internal Communications Lead, Microsoft
021 213 5496