With the STEM industry in New Zealand facing a huge shortfall in skills, Engineering New
Zealand embarked on a mission to inspire rangatahi, starting with the The Wonder Project.
In 2020, nine percent of graduates in New Zealand at bachelor’s level or higher had studied engineering, compared to OECD average of 14 percent. This meant New Zealand was seriously lagging behind.
Furthermore, only three percent of the country’s population is an engineer. Women only make up 17 percent of that and Māori and Pasifika make up around six percent.
STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is an important industry in New Zealand that promotes and creates innovative solutions for the entire nation, but the industry lacks the representation they serve. To address this, Engineering NZ launched The Wonder Project, in the hope of changing these figures,
The Wonder Project is about inspiring young Kiwis to get involved and consider a career in STEM. To do this Engineering NZ needed to make these complicated subjects relevant, accessible and understandable for rangatahi, especially girls, Māori and Pasifika – groups that are often missing from the picture.
Based on research by Engineering New Zealand, kids in years five to eight are making decisions about what subjects they are interested in and good at, so The Wonder Project aimed to target this age-group of rangatahi.
Engineering New Zealand made sure The Wonder Project was fun for children and based it off “challenges” that would encourage a positive, impressionable and sustained engagement with STEM.
The organisation did this by making sure The Wonder Project fit its research-based criteria of including a ‘wow factor’ to hook students in. This meant it needed to be co-created by teachers and STEM professionals to ensure a balance of excitement and education, have a hands-on element, be scaffolded learning, follow the curriculum, and link to the real world.
With this plan in place, Engineering New Zealand then marketed this project through multi-channels of trade and industry print publications, OOH advertising, social media and more, all on a shoestring budget of $90k.
The Wonder Project was a success, beating its original KPI of getting 800 teacher sign-ups by more than 100.
The 2022 Rocket Challenge, saw 93 percent of teachers agreeing that it was appropriate for students from different cultures and backgrounds. Ninety-three percent noticed a positive shift in students’ perceptions of STEM, compared to a report of 90 percent in 2021.
The growth Engineering NZ has seen is immense and the project continues to help bridge the gap.
Excellence in Not-for-Profit Marketing Strategy and Excellence in Purpose Driven Marketing Strategy
The Wonder Project – Inspiring Rangatahi With STEM
Engineering New Zealand
An excellent example of a industry association aligning and living its purpose and brand. A great example to all organisations. Great insights, driving excellent creative combined with strong delivery and stakeholder management on a shoestring budget. Well deserving of their ongoing commitment to the programme.
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This article was originally published in the September/October 2023 issue of NZ Marketing. Click here to subscribe.