Science & Innovation

Turning screen time into learning time

From teaching the next generation of tech leaders to code, to helping kids manage depression with games, New Zealand tech is changing the world for the better. Here are three New Zealand company founders inspiring youth around the world through education, by making learning fun.

1. Wendy Pye. Publisher, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist.
Dame Wendy Pye is a champion of children’s literacy all around the world, believing that it all starts with reading: 

“The only way to break the cycle of poverty is to create children who can read. If everyone read, they could at least do something and apply for jobs and be more positive in life and have more self-esteem.”

15 years ago she realised that digital technology could be embraced to help with literacy. The solution? Affordable tablets preloaded with 300 books, games, and activities. It’s a complete reading and literacy programme for children, and it’s helping teach English all over the world from the hills of Malaysia, to Egypt, India, and more. It’s revolutionising teaching.

We all know that kids love tablets, and they love learning.

2. Hamish Day. CEO, Code Avengers.
“Governments around the world are grappling with the fast pace of change and how to best empower their people and truly prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow, particularly in poorer communities.”

Hamish’s EdTech company, Code Avengers, is well-placed to help. They already provide online coding, design, and computer literacy programmes to more than two million students around the world, teaching the skills that kids will actually need for their jobs in the future.

Code Avengers have recently scored a breakthrough deal with the Chilean government that will benefit 1500 disadvantaged students. They’ll be providing their online curriculum to schools throughout Chile and will also conduct a three-day coding camp with students and teachers on the island of Rapa Nui – Easter Island.

Now, instead of playing with apps, the kids are creating them.

3. Maru Nihoniho. Founder of Metia Interactive.
As a game designer and producer, Maru’s focus is on indigenous storytelling and she has published several Māori games. She’s now on a mission to create games that educate, inspire and change the world.

SPARX is one of those games. It was designed to help young people with their mental health and has been incredibly successful. It’s a level-based game where the players complete quests to restore the world's balance and defeat the pesky negative thoughts, called Gnats. The game has been proven to help reduce depression, anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, and has improved quality of life. Read the results for yourself in the British Medical Journal.

Whoever thought a game could change the way kids deal with the pressures of life?

So, if you’re looking for somewhere that thinks differently about education… we know a place.