Teachers discuss Future Transport Competition

February 27 2017. The competition was planned by the NZ Transport Agency in conjunction with a teacher reference group. Here is some advice and insights.

The Future Transport Competition in Terms 1 & 2 sees student teams investigate challenges and opportunities in New Zealand transport. They enter either playable games (digital or non-digital) or narratives (such as videos, digital presentations with student voice, written or visual articles). Judges will assess entries in bands: Years 1-6, 7-10 and 11-13.

The competition was planned by the NZ Transport Agency in conjunction with a teacher reference group. It builds on the success of the 2016 Game Design Competition with the additional narrative category to cater to broad learning across the curriculum.

Why have this competition?

The NZ Transport Agency has a goal of creating transport solutions for a thriving New Zealand. A focus of the agency’s education work is to provide contexts that get young people thinking and acting as citizens – in line with the future focus principle’s emphasis on citizenship. This supports the New Zealand Curriculum’s vision for young people to be actively involved as contributors to the well-being of New Zealand.

Reference group member Hayden Shaw, a senior leader at Rolleston College, led students through a PE and technology unit on safe cycling for last year’s competition.

“Allowing students to make a real change within their own community makes for some fantastic learning through social action,” he says.

“Future Transport provides a fantastic context for students to do some great learning. And the competition element motivates students.”

Catalyst for deep learning

Rangiora New Life School Principal, and reference group member, Stephen Walters says the competition’s curated source material is a handy starting point for authentic learning.

“Opening the competition up to the primary area is quite exciting because it leads itself to long-form investigations,” says Stephen.

Last year, the school’s Year 10 students were highly commended for a physical activity game designed to raise awareness of the dangers of driving drunk.

“We often talk in education about real life examples that really connect with the students. They were particularly engaged in their learning in class time. And you can tell when they come back at other times that they really were connected with it,” says Stephen.

“I enjoyed watching them go through the learning process – identifying a problem, working together to come up with a solution and bringing it to a conclusion.

“We talk about that ability to work together as part of a team being an important life-long skill. An opportunity like this is a good thing.”

Learning in the younger years

“The competition is a great opportunity for students to help future-proof transport.  The younger generation will be the commuters, bus riders and cyclists utilising the transport solutions they are creating, while rural areas face their own challenges to address. I suggest students work across several curriculum areas as they find solutions relevant to their community,” says Catherine Hunter, a teacher at Mission Heights Junior College, Auckland.

Newmarket Primary School Deputy Principal Virginia Kung suggests taking a close look at what is happening on local streets.

“With transport being relevant to us all in New Zealand and globally, schools could address an aspect of transport in the future using challenges within their own community as a platform."

*A version of this article first appeared in Interface magazine:

Competition seeks ideas for 'future transport' (Interface website)