Local schools go digital to shun plastic waste

A project developed by a Victoria University of Wellington student will teach IT and digital technology to youth in lower decile schools, and help curb the increasing problem of plastic waste in Samoa.

The year-long pilot project, an initiative of Master of Design Innovation student Lionel Taito-Matamua, will initially teach year 9 and 10 science students from Taita College how to use 3D modelling software.

“As time progresses, and the students become comfortable using the software, we will introduce them to 3D printing and get them thinking about the potential of recycling plastics,” says Lionel.

Lionel’s project is supported by his thesis supervisors Professor Simon Fraser and Jeongbin Ok from the School of Design.

The pilot is due to commence in October, and if successful, could be rolled out to other local schools.

Lionel and his supervisors’ goal is to implement the project in Samoa within the next two years and teach locals how to use 3D modelling software and 3D printing technology to recycle plastics.

The project, Renewing Materials, was inspired by a field trip to Samoa where Lionel witnessed the impact plastic waste is having on the island due to the lack of a recycling system that can deal with plastics.

Professor Fraser says in the long term the project could improve digital literacy in the Pacific and encourage students to seek careers in science and design.

“This would in turn be the catalyst for the establishment of new industries and companies in the Pacific based around 3D printing,” says Professor Fraser.

Lionel received a stipend from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) NZ Product Accelerator, and funding from the Ministry of Youth Development, which forms part of a grant sourced by Viclink, Victoria’s commercialisation office.

For more information contact Lionel Taito-Matamua on 021 02715148 or taitolion@myvuw.ac.nz.