A group of fourteen students from Prospect School are creating a unique digital footprint, turning old and broken Chromebooks into working machines in West Auckland thanks to initial funding from Waitākere Ranges Local Board.
The year 5 and 6 students started the West Tech Project in 2021, which aims to bridge the digital inequality gap, providing opportunity for students and whānau to learn technical skills, and reducing waste going to landfill.
It has already turned 20 broken Chromebooks into 14 working machines and has been awarded a $200,000 contract to scale across West Auckland.
Fourteen students took part in the programme and kept the devices once they had been upcycled. The students are now mentoring a new student cohort to upcycle a collection of old Chromebooks.
Waitākere Ranges Local Board Chair, Saffron Toms was delighted to be able to support the project.
“We saw that there was a lot of potential in this project and that it definitely could be scaled up with the right support. All it needed was funding which the board was happy to provide. Its fantastic to see that the initial idea is turning into something that will make a huge difference for local young people.”
The project began life as a co-design through the West Auckland Together hub, which looked for ways to enable digital equity, provide digital literacy support for whānau and in-home internet connection through libraries and Skinny Jump for those who did not have it.
Project coordinator Jewelz Petley says that the project has fantastic potential.
“We saw in the initial stages the determination of the students to put a worthwhile project together that could make a difference for young people who don’t have access to digital facilities such as laptops at home.
“So the idea to upcycle old machines, harvesting parts and putting them together to create working assets was a great idea.
“It’s been really successful, and the next cohort of students are already working hard at doing the same thing. It’s helping teach lifelong lessons around technical skills and teamwork, as well as teaching the principles of managing a business.
“We are looking into creating a social enterprise to help keep the project going and are really excited to have been awarded the $200,000 from the Trusts to help roll out over West Auckland.”