A further eight community-led science projects have been green-lit under the Participatory Science Platform (PSP) pilot, locally known as Curious Minds Taranaki.

A further eight community-led science projects have been green-lit under the Participatory Science Platform (PSP) pilot, locally known as Curious Minds Taranaki.

The announcement, worth almost $115,000 for the region, supports communities and scientists to work together on local relevant science projects. Alongside new projects being funded, there is an extension of funding for some projects previously supported by Curious Minds in 2015.

“Curious Minds Taranaki seeks to connect the community with scientific expertise to progress projects of local importance and stimulate interest in the potential of science and technology,” says project manager Lucy Graydon of Venture Taranaki.

“It is fantastic that we have been able to grow the number of projects in Taranaki, as well as extending existing projects to engage more people and wider communities.”

Taranaki is one of three regions to be included in the scheme, which was launched in 2015, funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and delivered in Taranaki by Venture Taranaki.

“Curious Minds ultimately seeks to foster a greater interest in and understanding of the possibilities of scientific research to explain the world around us, and stimulate a wider interest in science, innovation and long-term learning,” Lucy says.

“The projects in year two of this pilot will help the successful communities to do just that, with projects ranging from environmental protection to engineering and exploring alternate technologies.”

Projects that will go ahead under the second round of the Curious Minds include:

  • Ngati Te Whiti Whenua Topu Trust will explore how to regenerate the site of Ngamotu Marae to its original state by reintroducing indigenous flora.

  • Puke Ariki will work with carvers, schools and specialists to examine the use of stone and metal carving tools with the goal of determining whether the Motunui Epa were carved using stone or metal tools.

  • Stratford and Matapu schools will investigate the best way to process organic waste on-site at each school, trialling systems and developing a comparison between urban and rural schools.

  • To Whenua Tōmuri Trust who will work with TDHB, marae and schools to understand the cultural and scientific indicators of health in Taranaki rivers.

  • Opunake Primary School will examine renewable energy sources available to the school and the potential for taking one of their classrooms ‘off-grid’ for energy use.

  • An extension of the South Taranaki Reefs project, funded under the same scheme in 2015, developed by the South Taranaki Underwater Diving Club, will include new schools and complete the development and installation of underwater video camera technology.

  • New Plymouth Boys’ High School will team up with Falcon Engineering to build an electrically-powered vehicle and test it against its petrol counterpart.

The funding will also enable Nga Motu Marine Reserve Society to extend Project Hotspot, funded under the same scheme in 2015, to encompass more of the Taranaki coastline, including working with South Taranaki Schools to increase awareness of coastal threatened species.

“Curious Minds is enabling Taranaki residents to put their surroundings under the microscope and work with scientific experts to explore the things around them that they find relevant.”

“The successful projects means there are an exciting few months ahead for Taranaki as we follow the progress of these great community-driven ideas,” says Lucy.

The PSP is currently being piloted in South Auckland, Taranaki and Otago. It is an initiative under A Nation of Curious Minds, a Government programme to encourage New Zealanders to get involved in science and technology.

A Nation of Curious Minds is coordinated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.