Vital community support for House of Science

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The success of House of Science is a testament to the power of community support. Sponsors’ and volunteers’ time and resources have helped this charitable trust grow from its Western Bay of Plenty roots and spread its impact throughout the country.

House of Science was born out of a need to address the alarming trend of students entering secondary school with little to no exposure to science.

House of Science NZ is led by Chris Duggan and her dedicated local team, provide science kits to 43 primary and intermediate schools in Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty.

By equipping primary and intermediate schools with science resources, creating hands-on learning opportunities that enhance children’s scientific literacy, House of Science exposes them to a wide range of learning and career paths.

Currently, the kits cover 42 scientific topics and can be booked like a library system.

The schools’ membership fee covers ten per cent of the cost to deliver the service; the remainder is through local individuals and corporate sponsors who sponsor a kit of their choice.

Each science kit is a comprehensive resource, including a teacher manual with all necessary background information, equipment, and instructions. It is delivered to schools fortnightly, used by students under the guidance of their teachers, and then collected for cleaning and replenishment by dedicated volunteers at the branch base.

House of Science Business Development Manager Sandra Kirikiri acknowledges the immense support from the Tauranga and Western Bay communities, emphasising the crucial role they play in their operations.

“Our kits program are a way to ensure the next generation is exposed to high-quality and diverse areas of science. By removing the barriers to learning science, we aim to see more students return to the area for jobs in areas such as horticulture, agriculture, engineering, or marine science,” says Kirikiri.

Rotary Club Te Papa is one of the top volunteer groups in Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty’s House of Science branch.

Simon Ellis says the Rotary Club of Te Papa thinks literacy, numeracy and science are vital and having these kits in schools is extremely beneficial.

“We have rosters of volunteers to check and replenish the kits each fortnight,” says Ellis, “We do deliveries and collections, and there is nothing better than having the kids run up to you to see what kit you’re bringing into school.”

“They really fall in love with science through these kits, as it shows them science isn’t just for the brainy kids and it often ignites an unknown passion. These kits should be everywhere.”

House of Science has flourished over the last decade. The efficient system ensures that each member school, with an average of 249 students, benefits from a House of Science Kit, usually used by three teachers and 73 students each time it’s booked.

TECT recently funded $30,000 towards the operating costs of House of Science’s Western Bay of Plenty branch.

House of Science started in Tauranga and now has 20 branches around the country with 700+ member schools. This equates to a third of all primary, intermediate and Kura Kaupapa schools in New Zealand being exposed to key science experiences and development. The kits are also available in te reo Māori.

Every year, the social return on investment is for every dollar invested into the programme, it delivers $10.20 of measurable good to New Zealand through increases in academic achievements, improved mental health and increased STEM achievements.

These kits are building a stronger future for local children and can only do as much as the limited number of kits allow. House of Science aim to be in every school across the region and the country to continue benefiting future generations.

Related: House of Science wins Horizon Prize for Education

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