Third Drawer Down

When I was growing up, the third drawer down in the kitchen was a bit of a junk drawer - need a paper clip? Go and look in the third drawer down. Need some sticky tape? Go and look in the third drawer down. Any straws left over from the last birthday party? CHECK THE THIRD DRAWER DOWN. It was a DIY dreamworld where bread tags mixed with loose skewers and leftover bits of tinfoil were deemed good enough to reuse in the future.

During the Covid19 rāhui* Tōnui Collab looked for new ways to encourage tamariki to be creative. In the lab we have cupboards and drawers overflowing with resources to stimulate and support creativity but lots of these items can also be found in your third drawer down so our team started posting daily STEAM challenges on our social media channels, inviting tamariki to try at home and share their creations with us.


From backyard ziplines to marble mazes made out of shoeboxes to rockets constructed from straws, the challenges were accessible to many and with limited instructions but an invitation to be creative, the solutions shared with us were outstanding.

We were surprised to find that it wasn’t only the tamariki o te Tairāwhiti joining in the STEAM challenges, we had tamariki from across Aotearoa tagging us in their insta stories, sharing their creativity with us, and often taking our concept to a whole new level.


"Iti rearea, kahikatea tei tei, ka taea. Even the small rearea bird can ascend to the great heights of the Kahikatea tree...the STEAM challenges helped me collaborate, and be creative and learn more ways to problem solve." Maikel Terekia, 12

STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Maths. The insertion of Arts in what was previously talked about as STEM emphasises the importance of creativity. The importance of STEAM learning is a hot topic, the skills developed through STEAM learning extend beyond those needed to be successful in STEM fields, the focus on hands-on learning helps tamariki develop problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, curiosity, decision making, and acceptance of failure.

As we cast our sights ahead to Level 2 and beyond, there is much discussion about whether we will return to the way things were or whether we are going to take up the invitation to create a ‘new normal’. I would encourage you to value the role STEAM learning has in the lives of your tamariki.


Today I discussed with one of my children what they have been doing during the rāhui* that they will continue to do when we return to school and work. They said they want to keep making, to keep creating. If you haven't checked out our instagram challenges yet, jump on there now - https://www.instagram.com/tonuicollab/ - browse through the challenges and give something a try. If you want to be inspired, check out this TED Talk by robot enthusiast Simone Giertz

*At Tōnui Collab, we have chosen to use the kupu rāhui to describe what we are currently going through, this idea that we are part of some temporary restrictions to create space for te ao to heal is a more positive framing of this moment in time.

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