Weekend Herald columnist and "Nanogirl" Dr Michelle Dickinson is urging Kiwi school students to get involved in a competition to promote the new digital technology curriculum.

Students at all levels from Years 1 to 13 can enter the competition "Tahi Rua Toru Tech", encouraging students to use the new digital curriculum that has been introduced from this year. All schools are expected to be using the new curriculum by 2020.

Dickinson, a nanotechnologist at the University of Auckland, said the competition aimed to make learning about coding and digital design relevant and fun.

"The challenge we have is that as a curriculum subject it doesn't always engage students, so they have created this national competition to use digital technology to solve real-world problems," she said.


"Students will choose their own problems. For example, the school tuck-shop line is too long, is there a way you could pre-order your tuck-shop products?

"Or they could be community problems, or national problems. One set of kids is looking at creating an app to help people that have Alzheimer's, for example."

She said the broad scope of the competition would allow students to be creative and "think outside the box". Some students might be keen on the coding side of technology, while others might be better at broad design.

"There are lots of roles in technology. You don't have to be techy to be involved in a tech solution," she said.

She said teachers would guide students towards developing solutions that involved the new curriculum.

"It will help build teacher confidence around this new curriculum so they can start to see how they can apply the digital curriculum to the real world," she said.

The two parts of digital technology, "computational thinking" and "designing and developing digital outcomes", are the first new elements in the NZ school curriculum since the rest of the document was finalised in 2007.

Tahi Rua Toru Tech opened for registrations today at 123tech.nz. It will run in 10 regions over terms two and three and the national winners will be announced in November.