High school’s new tech programme targets innovation and entrepreneurship

In just a few months, a Christchurch school’s new innovation and entrepreneurship program has led students to create an educational Māori culture social media lens with over 150,000 global engagements to pilot a Wāhine in Tech program for Deloitte and to support a health technology startup company’s virtual reality therapy app.

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Rangi Ruru Girls’ School this year launched RangiX, a program that aims to equip its students in grades 7-13 with forward-thinking skills, tools and mindset to thrive in an increasingly complex and dynamic world.

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Focused on the three pillars of Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship, RangiX includes pre-existing subjects, stand-alone classes, cross-curricular options and online learning modules – all with a close connection to real-world opportunities and commercial and tertiary partnerships.

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The program at the independent day and boarding school is led by Owen Flattery, the school’s recently appointed Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He comes to school from Melbourne where he drove digital strategy at Lauriston Girls’ School.

Ella Hartel, Class 13 student at Rangi Ruru Girls' School, and Owen Flattery, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

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Ella Hartel, Class 13 student at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, and Owen Flattery, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

“RangiX is about teaching students how to innovate to solve problems and create those solutions using digital capabilities,” says Flattery.

“This is underpinned by the understanding that as the world becomes more technological, the human skills and traits that bind us become more valuable – RangiX strives to develop these skills in our students.”

Headmistress Dr. Sandra Hastie says RangiX addresses a crucial element of modern education: “We don’t know what jobs many of our students will be in after they graduate because they have yet to be invented.”

“But,” she says. “What we do know is that students need to be creative thinkers, have the ability to see a problem and a solution, the ability to deal with failure and not give up, and develop resilience.”

RangiX teaches students innovative thinking to solve real-world problems using fundamental technologies.  Here students test drone technology.

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RangiX teaches students innovative thinking to solve real-world problems using fundamental technologies. Here students test drone technology.

RangiX is another method the school uses to prepare students for life after high school in an increasingly complex world. In addition to innovative thinking and problem solving, students learn about fundamental technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, drones, robotics, 3D design, blockchain and cybersecurity.

Crucially, RangiX has worked with industry partners to create real-world opportunities for students to learn and apply these skills and mindsets, as well as receiving feedback from industry-leading technology companies such as oVRcome and Deloitte, as well as tech and social entrepreneurs.

“Through RangiX, our group created an augmented reality lens that teaches people about the Matariki constellation,” says 13th grade student Ella Hartel.

Grade 13 students present their Matariki social media lens at the conclusion of the Deloitte Grow: Wāhine in Tech pilot program.

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Grade 13 students present their Matariki social media lens at the conclusion of the Deloitte Grow: Wāhine in Tech pilot program.

The lens was developed as part of the Deloitte Grow: Wahine in Tech program piloted by RangiX students. Students were challenged to use design thinking to identify a problem and create a minimally viable product technology solution.

Ideas were pitched to Deloitte employees at a dragon’s den-style event at the international company’s Christchurch office.

“We developed the app as a creative way to inform and educate people about an important cultural event for our nation,” says Hartel.

The lens, available on Snapchat and Instagram, had more than 150,000 interactions worldwide.

Learn more about RangiX at rangiruru.school.nz