The School to Skies project was originally started in 2016 to address the low numbers of women in the male dominated military workforce. At the time, the female population was under represented in many trades in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, but most notably the technical and aviation Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) trades. We knew that as a large player in the New Zealand STEM industry, the Royal New Zealand Air Force had a unique perspective with which to make a difference and it was important to us to contribute to the overall increase in diversity in the industry. The first camp of its kind was run in 2016 and was open to 40 Year 13 girls from across the country. The concept was simple: introduce these young women to a more detailed understanding of technical and aviation trades and the many rewarding opportunities a career in STEM could deliver.
It was a resounding success.
From there, the project grew and we have gone on to increase our team, run annual camps and take our programme (and our Grumman aircraft!) On The Road into classrooms across the North Island. The goal is to reach into the community as far as we can and inspire young students. We do this by delivering interactive, hands-on content that provides context to real-life STEM careers and hopefully influences subject choices later in their school journey.
Then 2020 hit…like many others, our workforce had to adapt to working from home. Our camps and community programmes had to be paused, but like most situations, there’s always a silver lining! We used this time to develop a new online program to complement our school visits that could be delivered by teachers in the classroom. On the Road: Formation was born.
Once the country opened back up, we were back to running our camps, engagement in the community and have even expanded to deliver a camp for teachers, empowering them with the knowledge of our industry and STEM resources to take back to their classrooms. We have seen this have a hugely successful ripple effect as some of the most influential people in young person’s life.