Businesses and families make a social impact in their community

Jackbord is proving very popular with Kapiti students


By Stuart Ayres – Chief Executive of Jackbord Works

The JackBord Educational System was designed by Jack Penman -a teacher- for Year 9 -13 students* to learn STEM subjects.

Based in Waikanae, JackBord is ideal for teachers’ personal learning and development in ed tech. The system assumes that the learner knows nothing about electronics, robotics or programming and can learn without assistance with easy to read materials and great instructional videos.

“Increasingly businesses are looking for ways to make a difference in their community. They want to do more than simply make a financial return for shareholders. 

The triple bottom line is a business concept that posits that firms should commit to measuring their social and environmental impact—in addition to their financial performance—rather than solely focusing on generating profit, or the standard “bottom line.” It can be broken down into “three Ps”: profit, people, and the planet.

Our children are unquestionably the most important sector in our community. Access to a good education is elemental to their wellbeing and success and indeed the wellbeing of their parents, grandparents, future generations and the health of the planet.

Research indicates one million more New Zealand workers will require digital skills training for their jobs in the next year, representing 35% of the workforce. Schools are not producing enough scientists, engineers, technicians to meet the needs of industry due to an historical lack of central government focus and funding in ed tech,  a lack of teaching skills among under resourced teachers and often because of the traditional abstract methods of teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths (STEM) subjects. Most concerning, some educational groups such as girls, or those with different learning abilities and children of minority sectors tend to miss out on the opportunity to learn STEM subjects. That’s at least half the population’s creativity we’re missing out on.

These are the very people who can make a difference to help address our future needs.  Schools simply do not have the resources to teach, For children, the inspiration or motivation to learn STEM has been discouraging, or worse, they have been left to their own (figurative and literal) devices.

Fortunately there seems to be an increasing awareness of our plight in ed tech in central government and industry, led by ed tech sector groups and researchers. Resources are being mobilised with changes to curriculum focusing more on STEM subjects and centred around authentic learning. However there is quite a deficit to make up and these changes take time.

Covid has created a new problem. The need to teach remotely (at least a hybrid model) and how to keep children engaged with all the distractions at home, have been some consequences of Covid.

JackBord has responded to all of these issues. Some schools are already using the JackBord in class and remotely and it is proving a hit. Through JackBord, children are engaging in education, taking up and enjoying STEM subjects and robotics. Teachers have found a tool that answers many issues they face; 

“I‘ve never really ventured into electronics with any of my classes until now, so the idea of using JackBords was out of my comfort zone. I initially had concerns about managing the electrical components and whether students might be put-off by the programming interface. Instead, the students were super enthusiastic to wire up their JackBords to meet the challenges. Students previously distracted with Social Media and YouTube were now actively engaged in setting up their Jackbords.. We are continuing to develop learning units and the Jackbord experience has allowed me to unpack parts of the Technology curriculum I’d previously considered out of reach”. Lance Flavell, Bishop Viard College, Porirua

One of the areas continuing to challenge schools is funding and this is where businesses can help, best explained in a couple of stories.

Recently a family bought three JackBords for their home-educated teenagers. They were so impressed they then donated to the Jackbord Trust to purchase 20 JackBords for their former primary school, who – it goes without saying – are beside themselves with excitement.

A dairy farmer arranged for his alumni to fund the purchase of 20 JackBords for his old school, remarking that the JackBord can do in his dairy shed what his $10,000 computer does – and he recently had to repair that, costing him $2,000. The school is ecstatic – it aligns perfectly with their curriculum objectives. One of the projects they have in mind for a couple of JackBords will be for students to work with the community to monitor progress cleaning a nearby stream capable of holding eels and fish again.

These case studies demonstrate that the JackBord is an exciting step forward in STEM education for students.  The JackBord innovation embraces and uses contemporary hands-on learning techniques particularly suited to our current generation of young people.

Businesses (or families/ family trusts) could support their nominated school by making a tax deductible donation to the JackBord Trust. Donor businesses could be attributed with their logo, recognised in media and, underpinning it all, the satisfaction that they have made a difference investing in our future scientists and engineers – maybe future employees.”

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