Two Rotorua projects are among those set to benefit from the Unlocking Curious Minds fund, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

Nearly $1 million of additional funding has been awarded to 25 new projects across New Zealand to engage more young Kiwis with science and technology under the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund pilot.

The Digital Natives Academy in Rotorua has been funded $20,000 to create fun and engaging opportunities to explore computer science, and to encourage young Maori and their whanau to become creators, developers and producers of technology.

This will include weekly sessions on coding, robotics, innovation and Minecraft.

Advertisement

Crown Research Institute Scion, which specialises in forest science and biotechnology, has been funded $20,000 to open its doors to local school students, demonstrating their work and facilities such as fermentation labs and a genetically modified organism field trial site.

Students will learn what biotechnology is and what it offers, now and into the future.

The announcement that the two Rotorua organisations would receive funding to encourage education in science and technology was very good news, said local MP Todd McClay.

"Encouraging young people to explore fun ways to engage in the high tech areas of the future is a pathway that will reap big benefits," he said.

"In the case of the Digital Natives Academy, young Rotorua people will have fun and be challenged by weekly sessions on coding, robotics, innovation and Minecraft.

"But, more importantly, it will open their minds to a career that is the way of the future.

"And Scion will open its doors and labs to local school children to learn what biotechnology offers in the future.

"I welcome the announcement and look forward to visiting both projects once they are up and running."

Advertisement

A further Unlocking Curious Minds funding round calling for new applications will be announced soon, Mr Joyce said.

The Unlocking Curious Minds programme is part of the Government's strategic plan to encourage all New Zealanders to get engaged with science and technology. It ties in with the innovation and skills streams of the Business Growth Agenda, and the National Statement of Science Investment.

The fund pilot offered two levels of grants: up to $20,000 for local projects, and up to $150,000 for regional or national projects.