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New Zealand To Fund Projects That Engage Kiwis In STEM


The New Zealand Government has recently announced NZ$ 2 million in funding to support projects across the country, which aims to engage more New Zealanders in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

According to a recent press release, Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Specialised Investments Manager Helen Sillars explained that Unlocking Curious Minds plays a critical role in supporting New Zealanders to learn about and engage with STEM.

Unlocking Curious Minds

  • It is a New Zealand Government initiative with a ten-year goal of encouraging and enabling better engagement with science and technology for all New Zealanders.
  • Engaging Kiwis in science, and in particular, those who have fewer opportunities to do so, is one of the best ways to develop the skills needed to tackle 21st-century problems and engage in debate about science and technology issues.
  • Kiwis are generally curious about what is around them, understanding the world people live in and how it works.
  • As a nation with a remarkable history of pioneers and innovators in many areas, Kiwis often push boundaries and ask difficult questions to find a way to get things done.
  • Science, technology, engineering and maths shape much of people’s lives and these exciting projects support learners to understand as well as question how to use the knowledge that STEM activities produce.
  • All of the successful projects this year are of the highest calibre and will engage local and national groups in a diverse range of STEM activities across topics such as Health Sciences, Earth Sciences and Mātauranga Māori.
  • Unlocking Curious Minds offer grants of up to NZ$ 150,000 for a region-wide or national project, and up to NZ$ 30,000 for a local or community project.

Some Projects

Some of the 2020 successful Unlocking Curious Minds projects include:

  1. University of Canterbury – Partnership to encourage Māori and Pasifika communities into Engineering.

This programme will engage Māori and Pasifika children through challenging and innovative activities in areas such as robotics, renewable energy, rocketry, electronics and programming.

The programme engages whānau and combines talent from community groups, public libraries and educational organisations.

  1. Otago Museum Trust Board – Far from Frozen II – Going to Extremes.

This project builds on the highly successful Far from Frozen climate change showcase, expanding to include impacts in the southern oceans.

The new showcase will include virtual reality headsets and a portable 360-degree dome with a focus on what can be done now to act on climate change.

  1. Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi – RoboPā.

RoboPā 2020 provides Māori learners with practical activities that help transform complex STEM concepts into easily understandable learnings.

The project is developed on the understanding that cultural practices and frames can be powerful drivers of educational success.

The list of the 31 projects receiving funding can be found here.

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