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New owners, new name for The Mind Lab Gisborne

This article was originally published by The Gisborne Herald.

In a magnanimous gesture, The Gisborne Mind Lab education facility has been gifted to its local crew of educators.

Since launching in 2015, The Mind Lab Gisborne has inspired over 32,000 school-aged children to get excited by science and technology through innovative and hands-on workshops on robotics, coding and virtual reality.

The Mind Lab national founder Frances Valintine CNZM, delighted with how it has gone in Gisborne, has decided to gift the business to the community from June 1 under a new name — Tonui Collab.

“I’m thrilled by the impact we’ve managed in Gisborne. It’s the right time to hand over our vision to Tonui Collab, which will continue to provide students with hands-on, creative and exciting ways to use technology and digital tools.”

When the Gisborne facility opened in March 2015 it was the first place outside Auckland to offer The Mind Lab’s digital and robotics learning programmes, which include state-of-the-art digital teaching for children and postgraduate digital and collaborative learning studies for teachers.

The original Gisborne team will remain at Tonui Collab at the same address (Wharf Shed 3), with centre director Shanon O’Connor taking up the role of founder and director.

“The Mind Lab is incredibly grateful to Eastland Community Trust and the Gisborne community of schools, students and parents who have provided so much support and engagement over recent years,” Ms Valintine said.

“ECT provided support for the delivery of contemporary education in Gisborne at a level not seen in other regions of New Zealand.

“The thousands of local school-age children who have explored, created, experimented and coded at The Mind Lab is evidence of the thriving local community of innovators and creatives.

We are also proud of the high number of local teachers who undertook postgraduate studies in digital and collaborative learning with The Mind Lab so that new teaching methodologies and approaches could be applied back in their classrooms.

“Handing the lab over to the existing local team of educators will ensure it will continue to thrive and respond to local needs and opportunities. We are thrilled that Shanon O’Connor (Gisborne MindLab director) and her team will continue to lead innovative learning in Tairawhiti under the new name of Tonui Collab. I look forward to seeing this facility thrive and grow, supporting Tairawhiti tamariki (children) to embrace learning in the digital age.”

Shanon O’Connor said the team were passionate and committed to creating engaging learning experiences for every child.

“I’m fortunate to have learned through Frances and The Mind Lab about the power of collaboration and the importance of communication, critical thinking and problem-solving to equip children with the skills they need for a successful future beyond school.

“Tonui Collab will continue to offer future-focused workshops for school-aged students, as well as professional learning and development workshops for teachers, Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) workshops, explore robotics, electronics, engineering, coding, graphic design, augmented and virtual reality, filmmaking, animation and 3d modelling.”

The Mind Lab Gisborne was extensively supported by the ECT and that relationship would continue with Tonui Collab to enable more young students the opportunity to take part in workshops.

Students pay just $2 for a two-hour workshop for sessions during school hours.

“Our vision is to create transformative learning experiences for our young people,” Ms O’Connor said.

“We also strive to empower educators across our community — in the classroom, out on the waka, on the marae, in the taiao (world) — to collaborate and to enhance opportunities for our young people.”

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