Three-to-four years ago, Kiwispace was just a glimmer of an idea â spawned from the thought that there should be some organisation out there that encouraged students to pursue space-related careers and activities. KiwiSpace Foundation was born several just under a year later, and the rest they say, is history.
Well, sort-of. Life isn't easy for new volunteer-led organisations â and it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance. We've got a core team of outstanding individuals who've been there thick-and-thin, and always put their all into KiwiSpace. My sincerest thanks to them.
But of course, after three years - it's a good time to take a little bit of a retrospective and evaluate what's working, what's not â and make some changes.
Big changes for education at KiwiSpace
One major item covered at the recent AGM, was a discussion on our strategic direction, and in particular some ideas for our education strategy.
If you're a teacher or keen to get involved in our education programmes, then we encourage you to view the full presentation. But the key points were:
- A change in focus from in-classroom programs to direct-to-student activities.
- Creation of an Online Space School, possibly with a gamified, micro-learning approach.
- Regular hands-on learning and educational events throughout the country, designed for students participating in the program.
- Volunteer Friendly: Easy ways to get involved, and an increased focus on training and getting satisfying results.
- Education opportunities bulletin, for teachers.
It's early days â but we're all quite excited about the possibilities this new direction offers. A large part of it is making KiwiSpace more volunteer-friendly.
In the past, if you'd heard about KiwiSpace, got in touch and said 'how can I help?' -- we didn't really have a good answer for you. We tended to do a few medium/large-sized projects (for us) throughout the year, and they required a level of commitment from volunteers that was a bit daunting right out the gate. We also didn't have a structure in place to bring them up to speed, and the 'reward' from helping out with a project was often several months off. All of this wasn't good for our core team, who felt a little overworked â and found it tough to find new volunteers while also trying to keep existing our projects on track.
So with our change in education strategy, our goal is to do much smaller events and activities, more frequently â and with more structure. So if you're big on Mars exploration and knock on KiwiSpace' door, then we can invite you to help out with developing a micro-learning module, or volunteer at one of our events, or mentor some students, etc. We've still got to work through the detail on this â but to me, it's a much more sustainable approach to our activities and should make it easier to grow.
Plus, if you help - by say write a learning module â if you have 80 students take that on the next month, then you get great feedback and satisfaction from having seen your effort translate into real value for those kids.
That's all for now. We'll keep you posted as we develop the education framework further.
We're not rushing things, as a few of our core team are busy this year (I'm going to be over in North America for several months, for example â helping out with the International Space University's SSP14 program). We've also got another bigger project, Spaceward Bound planned for later this year which will keep us a bit busy. But we hope to be prototyping some of this new stuff later in the year, with a more formal launch next year.