Innovative Young Minds’ six-day residential programme ran from 12 – 16 July and 39 young women in Year 11 and 12 from high schools around the Greater Wellington Region took part. Founded by Hutt City Council and Hutt City Rotary in 2017 and funded by local Rotary Clubs, businesses and organisations including Hutt City Council, IYM exposes participants to the many career and research opportunities available in science and technology.
On day one of the action-packed six-day programme, participants took part in a series of fun team-building activities designed to break the ice. An inspiring keynote address was then delivered by Haritina Mogosanu and Sam Leske of the New Zealand Astrobiology Network who spoke about our place in the universe and the origins of human life on earth.
The morning of day two saw the group head to NIWA (The National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) for tours of the Mass Spectrometry Lab, Invertebrate Collection and Marine Physics. This was followed by an engaging speed dating session where the participants were able to speak to a number of NIWA scientists about their roles and career journeys.
The group then returned to the Hutt Valley where it visited engineering consultancy firm WSP. Tours of the various WSP laboratories, including the wind tunnel, introduced the participants to the important role that engineering will play in creating a sustainable future.
The last site visit of the day was to MPI’s National Biocontainment Laboratory in Upper Hutt. Yazmin Mitchell from Paraparaumu College said of the visit: “It was such a privilege to be in a high-containment zone like this and I couldn’t believe this building was in my own backyard! I was amazed by the effort that had gone into creating, protecting and securing the labs.”
Day three focused on creative technologies with a site visit to game makers A44 Games in Alicetown where participants interacted with game developers and world-leading visual effects artists and learnt about the process of making visually compelling game creations.
The group changed focus in the afternoon and worked on their Innovation Challenges. This involves teams working in groups to solve a problem using design thinking skills. Mentors from A44 Games, Spiral Software and MPI along with 2017 IYM alumna Sophie Handford- joint Wellingtonian of the Year winner in 2019 and now Paekākāriki – Raumati Ward Councillor on the Kāpiti Coast District Council- joined the group to help them design innovative solutions for the Challenge.
After a fast-paced first few days on IYM Residential 2021, the day ended with tenpin bowling and the opportunity for the participants to develop friendships with other young women who share a passion for science and technology. Without support from local organisations and sponsors, these incredible opportunities would not be possible, or accessible.