Profile: Doug the Digger

The ‘Doug the Digger’ team provides young minds with the opportunity to operate a real excavator in a safe and supportive environment

At the recent MOTAT (Museum of Transport & Technology) STEM fair in Auckland, Doug the Digger provided a great experience for children and families.

The fair is aimed to encouraging young minds to keep their options open about a future career in STEM: science, technology, engineering, and maths.

The hands-on experience helps young people find confidence to consider a career in the civil industry.

This is particularly significant for the civil infrastructure industry, which needs to provide opportunities for young talent to learn more about the industry and the importance and purpose of using numbers, reading instructions, writing notes, and using the tools.

"We can make what seems boring to be fun, exciting, and inspiring. It’s about creating experiences and memories for young people that will give them confidence with purpose and meaning to their education," says Julie Baker the education manager for MOTAT.

"By giving such experiences, we’re also allowing the child to make their own informed decisions for their future. Doug the Digger totally nailed our goal."

Alistair McIntyre, Barbara Busst, and John Bryant

Led by the skilled team of Alistair McIntyre aka ‘Mr Mac’, Barbara Busst, Logan Collings, and John Bryant, Doug

the Digger offers a safe and educational environment that gives children and young people the opportunity to operate a real excavator in a safe supportive worksite environment.

The older children also had the opportunity to learn to understand instructions on how to measure various objects such as paving stones and calculate areas. These hands-on exercises served as an introduction to real-world applications, fostering a deeper understanding of concepts and igniting the curiosity needed to consider a career in the civil industry.

Parents were also encouraged to actively engage in their children’s learning journey, whether it was holding the end of a tape measure during a measuring exercise or assisting with operating a calculator.

The Doug the Digger team provide a safe and educational environment

Many had a sense of pride as they watched their child being taught by Alistair or Logan to operate the mini excavator. At the beginning and the end, Barbara made sure each child was fitted with a high-viz vest before operating the digger. Children left with valuable Doug the Digger information, such as a meaningful bookmark and a workplace safety page to colour in. Older ones had a math instruction exercise to take home.

The enthusiasm for the Doug the Digger experience was evident as parents and children willingly queued up for their turn. Many left the event brimming with excitement about their time on the mini digger.

Three brothers, in particular, enjoyed the opportunity to learn how to operate the mini digger, as it gave them a sense of achievement, self-assurance, and awareness that they needed to be focused and careful.

Logan Collings (left) works in the civil construction industry alongside his dad Tony

They completed the measurement exercises, further boosting their confidence with numbers as they got a glimpse into the practical application of maths and technology.

"The goal of the annual MOTAT STEM Fair is to convince children to keep their options open about a future career in STEM and to encourage them to ‘have a go’ at STEM activities. I can’t think of a more compelling experience for a child than to climb onto a mini excavator and operate it.

I had the pleasure of standing next to a proud Mum who was watching her son being taught how to manipulate the excavator by Alistair. Both she and her son were bubbling with excitement about the experience," says Julie.

Parents and caregivers had a sense of pride as they watched their child being taught to operate the mini excavator

The Doug the Digger experience is a well-thought-out and carefully managed operation. It’s run by passionate and dedicated operators who want to share the opportunity to be part of the civil infrastructure industry.

Their objective is to promote careers in the industry, show the importance of literacy and maths, and inspire young people to develop self-responsibility and find the confidence to have a go.

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