Developing teaching resources for sharing

Developing teaching resources for sharing

Otago Polytechnic is developing a series of teaching resources and building relationships with schools to raise student and staff awareness of engineering.

Linking engineering activities with school curriculum

In addition to running activities aimed at engaging students with engineering, the Otago Polytechnic Secondary-Tertiary Pathways Project (STPP) team is developing teaching resources for use in schools. Created in association with secondary school teachers, the resources are designed to link with the Maths, Science and Technology curricula and, where they fit, NCEA achievement standards.

Sharing resources with school/ITP partnerships          

When completed, the lesson plans will be made freely available to school/ITP (institutes of technology and polytechnics) partnerships around the country. They are designed to show students how what they’re learning at school is applied in engineering, prepare them to study engineering or science at tertiary level and hopefully inspire some to work towards a career in engineering.

Creating transferable material

The STPP team is developing ten resource kits, each providing an activity related to engineering and the concepts/skills students are studying in Maths, Science or Technology classes. Each kit will include a lesson plan and materials to help teachers deliver the activity. They are trialled in schools and adapted where necessary.

While the resources are linked to Year 10, 11, 12 or 13 curricula, Project Manager John Findlay points out that they are designed to be transferable. “Some could be adapted for students in Year 5 through to Year 13. We designed three resources using Arduino, but these activities could be delivered with whatever system a school currently uses.”

Showing the range of engineering fields

“We want to show the students that engineering is part of everything they do,” John says, “and that they could work in different fields of engineering. We’ve tried to provide a crossover between the engineering disciplines – engineering is changing from strict disciplines such as civil, mechanical and electrical to a wider multidisciplinary outlook.”

The topics are based on the polytechnic’s research into what students are likely to find interesting in their maths and science classes. “Three projects are based on mechatronics concepts, designed to get students thinking about linking digital technologies and engineering.”

“Long term, we’re trying to evolve these activities so that they become a normal part of lessons in those subjects.”

Ten topics

Five resources have been completed, with the remainder expected to be finished by the end of March.  All involve ITP tutors working with school teachers and students, and for some topics include using the ITP’s specialised facilities. The topics are:

  • Complex numbers – includes video clips and site visits to highlight where these are used
  • Differential equations in calculus – simulating conic sections using lab equipment
  • Constructions and geometry – using survey equipment to carry out triangulation
  • Geometry – simple activity that allows students to relate geometry principles to real life
  • Time temperature – spring oscillation
  • Arduino computer-controlled wire bender project
  • Arduino controlled drone
  • Space X project – graphing and materials testing
  • Water wheel – laser-cut and fluid example
  • River channel flow project

Engaging with schools

In addition to trialling the resources, the STPP team continues to offer careers events, engineering open days and activities a school might request.

“There’s been a significant enhancement of our relationships with schools across the Otago region,” John says, “as we try to raise staff and student awareness of engineering and study pathways. It’s resulted in some strong links with careers advisers and subject teachers, and ongoing productive relationships with their schools.” 

Otago Polytechnic is currently running a research project aimed at getting more girls into engineering. Read about it here:
Case study 93: Researching girls' attitudes to engineering

Read older case studies about Otago Polytechnic's STPP programme:

Case study 91: Collaborating with local school to engage girls with engineering
Case study 80: Engaging girls with engineering-related activities  
Case study 72: Making links and developing resources
Case study 57: Teaching subjects in an engineering context 

Our thanks to John for his time and advice; if you have any queries please contact

March 2019