The Curious Minds Participatory Science Platform has supported 39 community science projects throughout Taranaki, across 16 science and technology disciplines. That number will increase with an extension to the programme announced this week.
Led by Venture Taranaki and funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Curious Minds works with school and community groups who have questions or ideas that can be explored or tested with science.
Teams partner with the science or technology expertise to help them engage with science and understand more about topics relevant to them.
To date more than 1000 people have been involved in the programme, working with 70 science and technology experts on projects throughout the region – from Ngāmatapouri in the South to Opunake in the west, Tongaporutu in the North, and Makahu in the east.
"Curious Minds has been running in Taranaki since 2015 and has worked on a wonderfully diverse range of projects in every corner of the region," says Michelle Jordan, General Manager Business, Partnerships and Skills at Venture Taranaki.
"Our community is harnessing science and technology to do some amazing things and it is great that we can continue to offer Curious Minds in Taranaki."
The potential of the programme is demonstrated by Ngāmatapouri School, whose eight students are running a project to monitor the Waitotara River's water quality, path and river levels, which could ultimately warn downstream communities of an impending flood. This led to them winning a TRC environmental award.
Recent projects have also included the generation of sustainable energy to power electric vehicles, monitoring and mapping of the critically endangered long-tail bat population in central Taranaki, and an analysis of spring waters on Mount Taranaki to build knowledge of the current state of volcanic activity of Te Maunga.
"To date $680,000 has been invested into a remarkably diverse range of local science projects. A further $308,000 will enable even more projects to be undertaken over the next two years," Michelle says.
"We invite community, school and any other groups to get in touch with Venture Taranaki to see how their projects could access this programme."
"There are three criteria for projects – the have to be educationally valuable, locally relevant, and scientifically robust. We can work with people to develop their ideas and make an application," says Michelle.
The Curious Minds Participatory Science Platform is now open for applications for projects to be undertaken in 2020. For more information or to apply, visit: business.taranaki.info/Innovate/PSP-and-Curious-Minds.aspx