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White Paper

Hands-on STEM professional development program for teachers in primary schools across New Zealand. 


Science achievement in New Zealand schools is declining, and there is a pattern of disengagement with science that starts in primary school for many students.

Negative experiences with science in primary school have often been blamed on teachers’ lack of skills and subject-matter knowledge, but teacher confidence in and attitude towards science also plays a crucial role.

Nanogirl Labs has been delivering hands-on based STEM professional development programs for primary and intermediate teachers since 2016. Aimed at increasing teacher confidence and readiness to teach science, this white paper summarises our research from working with schools across the country:

  • 7% of primary school teachers teachers surveyed in this study reported that they did not teach any science at all in any of their classes.

  • Only 22% of primary school teachers surveyed reported teaching science in their classroom regularly.

  • Teachers who “sometimes” taught science were most likely to do so only when it fit into an inquiry topic, or indirectly through topics like baking, gardening or learning about animals.

  • Low confidence is a major contributing factor to the high portion of teachers who do not teach science.

  • 90% of teachers surveyed who reported that they taught little or no science said that they wanted to teach more science.

  • Low teacher confidence with science can lead to fewer opportunities for students to study science in primary school, resulting in a lower long-term engagement with science.

  • After taking a Nanogirl Labs hands-on STEM PLD (Professional Learning & Development) workshop, 95% of teachers reported that their confidence in science had increased significantly and they had an increased willingness to add science teaching into their classrooms.

  • Teachers reported that a key benefit of a hands-on STEM workshop was that they were able to try the experiments for themselves, which increased their confidence.

  • Teachers reported that the use of everyday materials in the STEM workshop, combined with fun, practical experiments designed for low-confidence teachers was an important part of what made the workshop so successful.

Download our white paper


Nanogirl Labs currently has over 80 primary schools across New Zealand who have requested a hands-on STEM PLD workshop for their teachers but are currently unable to finance this program, if you or your organisation would like to make a donation to help us to reach schools across the country you can do so through our charity partner Bright Future Trust. 

We work globally with partners who share our passion—creating opportunity through STEM.

If you’d like to join us on our mission, please get in touch.

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