Information for students

Your world is more digital than any generation before you. Digital Technologies shape our homes and communities and how we interact with each other and live our everyday lives. Our education system is changing to better equip you to take part, create and thrive in this fast-evolving digital world.

What is the Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko (DT and HM) curriculum about?

DT and HM is about learning how technology works and how to use that knowledge to solve problems. We want to support you to innovate and create with digital technologies, whatever pathway you may choose.

'Tech talks' showcase

Watch 6 Kiwi students share their inspiring stories via a ‘TechTalks’ showcase. Their stories highlight the exciting potential of how digital technologies can be used to solve everyday problems your community may be facing. Their solutions address a range of challenges:

  • environmental pollution
  • getting rubbish out when you are elderly or live a distance from the kerb, or
  • how to make learning about physics more … like a game.

Using digital technologies to help protect New Zealand birds

Transcript: Using digital technologies to help protect New Zealand birds

My name is Felix Backhouse and I'm designing a system to use hyperspectral imaging and drones to track native birds. In New Zealand we have a big problem with introduced pests which predate on the native birds and government organisations such as the Department of Conservation only have a limited budget. And so they do bird counts. The bird counts themselves are actually a problem because they can be quite inaccurate. Birds can be hidden from human volunteers undertaking the bird count. They can be camouflaged, and also the number of people involved in a bird count can be not enough to survey the area properly, and my solution is attempting to address that by making the process much more accurate.

So there's a drone that's going to be flying over these birds in a predetermined flight path that I'm going to set. And then there's going to be a camera on board; a hyperspectral camera which takes hyperspectral images of these birds as it's flying over them. And then after that there's going to be data analysis where a computer is going to go through those images and search for spectral signatures that match that of the birds that you're looking for.

The drone has an existing camera on the bottom which I've had to take off and the hardware that I'm putting on such as a Raspberry Pi and a new camera are going to have 3D printed enclosures around them and then they're going to just attach to the bottom of the drone.

I have talked to people who have looked at using the same technology in the Arctic to find Arctic animals like polar bears. There is a drone being tested in Australia to find sharks on beaches to prevent shark attacks. And so yeah I think the applications are pretty much limitless in this case just in the context of the environment. There are so many areas which need consistent monitoring of specific animals. I think that having a real world application for something you're doing in class is very useful because it can help to motivate you to get it done and see how it can affect the outside world in a positive way.

So I do a lot of this project at home and I think that that's important because it shows that I'm really dedicated to what it's about instead of just doing it for school. And for me it's because I'm really passionate about achieving what I want to achieve in terms of bringing down the cost of volunteer bird count or seeing the 2050 Pest Free New Zealand come true.

This project is certainly encouraged by the school but I think it's much more important to me because it's something that I'm very passionate about; to protect the environment, and to see this project come to fruition would be very, very satisfying for me.

Using an app to help NCEA students with their physics

Transcript: Using an app to help NCEA students with their physics

So my name's Jack and I've created a educational physics game for mobile devices targeted towards level two physics students for NCEA in New Zealand, designed to help them understand concepts and practice example questions that they might come across in their exams in a gamified context.

I'd learned a bit about game design and I decided I wanted to try something in that sort of space. I thought you know if I'm going to be making a project for the whole year I might as well make it, I'll target it to some sort of an audience. As a physics game I wanted to create a sort of interesting way to show the concepts, so I thought of Rube Goldberg machines; interesting contraptions that use physics principles to get an end goal completed and I used that as an inspiration for how to make the concepts that students would learn in class, not only apply them to a physical thing, but that allows them to sort of enjoy and see an outcome from that.

They can break down the different parts of the level into the concepts that dictate how they're going to act. And through that they can use calculations and knowledge that they've learned in physics classes to basically predict how the level is going to play out and solve it, solve it for a correct answer. So the levels are inspired or are dictated by concepts that they would learn in physics classes and they’re laid out in a way that makes them similar to the practice, the exam questions that they're going to see when they do come to their NCEA exams. So I've tried to link as closely as possible to the physics curriculum and the questions that they'd see in that curriculum.

When I was working on it last year it did take up a substantial amount of my time. So it wasn't just in school that I was working on it, it was outside, at home over the weekends, whenever I had some spare time to just chip away at it really. I'm interested in technology. I always have been and it's a passion of mine and I just decided well if I'm going to work towards a goal I might as well give it my all. Persevere as much as possible, go through it as I do enjoy, you know, I did enjoy developing it.

So one really good thing with my project was that all of the stakeholders and all the people who could help me get through that process for a project that I want to design were all at Burnside here. So I spoke to the physics department, digital technologies teachers helped me to go through the planning stages, and it was all nice and concise which was great.

Recently I applied for some grants from various number of organisations and I got some money together to go through with the next step of the development of the project which is putting it on Apple devices, and to make it able to be used in classrooms as a teacher's aid instead of just a study tool that's mentioned on the side of the practice questions you get it really needs to be able to be available for all students which is what that funding is hopefully going to allow me to do. So that's definitely my next step; making it available to everyone.

In three to five years’ time I'm hoping to have come out of university with a software engineering degree, be able to really see what's out there in terms of opportunities for what I can do in the technology sector. There's numerous opportunities for anyone with connections and knowledge in that area and it's just really exciting to see so many new jobs cropping up every year and being able to sort of choose what I want to go into and spend my life doing.

Using digital technologies to make farming more efficient and sustainable

Transcript: Using digital technologies to make farming more efficient and sustainable

My name is Rachel and my project is a lamb incubator temperature regulator. I come from a rural background. I live on a farm. We have a lot of problems with lamb deaths and that can mean some serious consequences for income. During spring the weather can be very unpredictable. So that means cold temperatures and sometimes when a lamb isn't treated right by its mother it can die from those cold temperatures. This is a massive problem for most sheep farmers usually during this time.

So I already had this idea in my head from working on a sheep farm. And I just thought that incorporating my electronics knowledge as well as social studies or the geography side of social studies and science I could make this idea come true.

I began by designing my brief in electronics which is something that we learned in depth as well as bringing in the knowledge from social studies about the problems that other farmers are facing as well. So with my final product I'm looking for a small device that I can put into an area with a lamb in there to regulate the temperature of the area. As well as an LCD display that will alert the farmer if any changes occur. It's sort of a wireless connection so the LCD display is inside, in the house or in an area of the house where people will be so they can monitor it and there'll be an alarm system as well. if the temperature goes below something or above something that it shouldn’t.

Next I want to try to physically assemble my project by getting the components that I've stated for my specifications. And then I'd like to try to enter it into Bright Sparks. Bright Sparks is like a competition for technology projects.

I believe it's so important to try to involve technology within school as well especially because at such a young age we can make such a big difference in the future if we start now, and the smallest spark of passion can create the greatest change. Because farming is such a massive backbone of our country I think it's going to be so important for Agriscience to get massive and especially the involvement in technology which will definitely enhance our future.

When I'm not out on the farm I'm usually coding or creating a circuit board that will work to make some creation that I think will make something easier to do. There is a lot of stereotype around the area which I tend to disagree with but I feel like that should definitely be changed in the future.

Well currently the STEM subjects; science, technology, engineering and math subjects, they are very stereotyped as being a male only subject, as well as only being subjects for nerds and I don't think nerds are actually that bad and they should not be stereotyped for being nerds. The STEM subjects are definitely areas where women can be successful in as well, and I would like to prove that.

How digital technologies can help in the community

Transcript: How digital technologies can help in the community

My name is Thomas James and I'm creating a automatic robot that would take your rubbish bin to the road for you. My elderly neighbour down the road, her doctor said to her that she was no longer allowed to take a wheelie bin out because it was too much of a risk of her falling. So it was partly for her but also for the rural communities because my grandparents own a bach in the Coromandel, and they have a wheelie bin service there but the wheelie bins only go out once a week and it's not like rubbish bags where you just leave them at the pick-up point. So they would have to leave rubbish in their wheelie bin when they weren't there.

The solution will be to create a robot that will autonomously drive up to your wheelie bin and take it out to the curb side and leave it there. Then after it's been collected it will autonomously bring it back to your designated drop off zone. The current prototype is that there will be two prongs that will go up into the handle of your wheelie bin so there is no attachments on the actual wheelie bin. So it can autonomously just drive up, then it will over-extend, so that it drives under and it will straighten up, and then it will go into the handle and it can pull it back and drive it off and the navigation, there will be checkpoints. And on the front there'll be some ultrasonic sensors because ultrasonic sensors send out an ultrasonic wave and it bounces back and it can calculate the distance between it and the nearest object in front of it. So it would be able to tell if it's coming up to an object and it can just stop and wait for it to go past.

I'm actually not doing any digital or electronics subjects at school. This is all outside of school, a hobby that I have, and the school helps me a lot with my project but it's not a specific subject so I'll go see the metalworks teacher to help me do my welding and make my frame. I’ll see that electronics teacher for advice on creating this; the electronics to control the robot. But it's all done outside of school.

The first prototype is designed so that everyone will own their own robot and the robot will autonomously go to the bin that needs to be taken out for that week, take it out and then return it. But in the future there's limitless potential; it could follow you round as you do your gardening so you don't have to bring your green bin round with you. It could potentially be a fleet that goes down the road with the rubbish truck and there's three of them or so that go to the next house and picks up the bin and brings it to the roadside so you don’t have to actually own your own robot, it goes along with the rubbish truck.

Making projects to solve real world problems is something that I enjoy doing because I guess I can apply my knowledge that I learn at school; all the maths, all the science and all the... I apply it all and I see the real world use of each of the topics you're learning in schools. It’s really cool.

Using digital technologies to deliver and receive online deliveries quickly and safely

Transcript: Using digital technologies to deliver and receive online deliveries quickly and safely

I'm Eric and I'm working on an electronics deposit box for online deliveries where a delivery man can scan a package, deposit it into the delivery box if it's at the correct address, and then the user can then collect that package later on which will give the sort of electronic signature to the delivery company.

There was a track package that we had to sign but we weren't able to collect it when delivery man came. So we then had to go and drive to the airport to have it collected which was a major hassle for us especially if we lived very far away from the airport. I started thinking of a sort of way that would allow you to collect the package even if the delivery man's not there but also keep the package secure rather than just leaving it on your porch.

I need some electronics knowledge, because the box obviously requires electronics parts such as servos motors and things. I also need programming knowledge to get it to process all the information in order to let the package be deposited and I also need some networking infrastructure information, because the project will be connected to the internet.

I've completed most of the backend work for the project. I've got it checking the package number and the database sending electronic signatures of confirmation and I've also got most of the electronics done. I'm getting the electronics lock to work getting the scanner to work that sort of thing. I've designed it so that it's very easy to work with existing systems. So it should be very easy to actually work with what our current delivery companies have.

The sort of dream in the future is to have this as basically a staple for every household, if they're doing online deliveries, which in the future most people will be doing, they will use this in part of their shopping experience. I would say it's probably the number - apart from maybe sleeping - it's probably the number one thing that I spend my time on. So you know, many, many hours a week. Most of my free time actually is just spent tinkering with different electronics things and projects and learning how to build things.

The digital technologies at a school is a really good way to just provides you with the equipment and the sort of environment that you're able to build your things in and it also gives you a good way to seek guidance so if something goes wrong and you're stuck you can always ask the teachers and they can help you with your project that way. It's very hard to get a handle on exactly what the future is going to look like because there's so much new stuff out there. You know it's impossible to keep track of all of it. I think anything that’s new, anything that improves the way we live our lives I think is very interesting to me.

So I think you know technology will start to get more and more ubiquitous as time goes on. I think you know as time goes on there's not going to be a single thing you're going to be using that doesn't involve some sort of advanced technology. There's lots and lots of opportunities, not just for this project, but also for me and for schooling and careers because as time goes on more people are getting into these sort of technologies things. There's going to be more help and more guidance out there. It will be a really exciting time for anything to do with this.

Well actually I don't have a name for a product right now. That might actually be the hardest part of the project so if there's anyone out there I'm open to any ideas.

Cleaning up beaches using digital technologies

Transcript: Cleaning up beaches using digital technologies

My name's E Wen Wong and I'm designing a drone called BIRD; Biomimicry Identification Robot Device, and it's a drone to detect and locate macro plastics.

So I've always had a passion for the environment and I did some litter audits at local beaches like New Brighton. And then I realized there's so much litter there. And I decided, well, I'm passionate about tech and I'm passionate about the environment, so why don't I just merge the two and produce a drone to help the problem.

They would download the app from the App Store and then my app prototype first looks at teaching them more about plastic pollution issue, if you don't know already. And then they get the app and they choose a beach and then it will have GPS pins showing each of the locations that the BIRD has detected of plastic and then when they find the plastic they click the pin and then just acknowledge that they’ve collected it and then there'll be a point system so that people are motivated to go and compete with each other to pick up plastic.

In the holidays I spend a lot of time like most of my holidays doing it, as I say because I'm so passionate about it, it doesn't become a chore. It's more like a hobby. It's so fun to just be playing with technology. So my BIRD project assists me with other subjects in school because it teaches me how to solve problems. It's the mindset of teaching students how to think not what to think. And I think the problem solving skills that I've learned from BIRD is applicable to, as weird as it might sound, writing an essay because you can understand the challenges the solutions and you can think so much more creatively.

In the future I don't envision myself working in tech but more like the environment or meteorology or perhaps even law. But I think the skills that I learned from the BIRD project and technology is that I can gain these skills and apply them to a more holistic view and perspective on the world we live in.

So my biggest fear for the environment is that because our impacts are so anthropogenic they’re influenced by humans ourselves that we're going to completely disregard the environment and just say we want to do this because it's convenient. I just think that using technology to make people aware of the extent of the issue is a very powerful tool.

The views and opinions discussed are those of the students.

Who will get to learn this new curriculum?

The curriculum will be available to all students from Year 1-13 (around ages 5-18). Students have the opportunity to specialise from Year 11-13.

How can DT and HM help you?

Digital technologies can help you solve problems, work together with your friends, and communicate. This new curriculum will teach you decision-making processes.

More and more people need digital technology skills and knowledge to succeed, whether you want to make robots, be a politician, or a farmer. For example:

  • farmers use drones to find out where their crops need watering
  • engineers use satellite maps to help them plan where to build their structures
  • fire-fighters use heat-sensing equipment to find out where the fire is hottest so that they can put it out faster
  • Team NZ's shore crew made equipment for the sailors to use to make the best tactical decisions, sail the fastest, and win the America's Cup.

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