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$2 million for STEM projects that unlock our nations’ minds


The sixth round of Unlocking Curious Minds has awarded $2 million in funding to 31 projects aimed at engaging more New Zealanders in science, techology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Unlocking Curious Minds is a contestable fund that supports innovative, quality projects which provide more New Zealanders with opportunities to learn about and engage with science and technology.

Through the 2020 funding round, 18 local community projects and 13 regional projects will be supported. Unlocking Curious Minds awards grants of up to $30,000 for local community projects and $150,000 for regional projects.

Some of the projects the fund is supporting next year include:

  • University of Canterbury - Partnership to encourage Māori and Pasifika communities into Engineering. This project 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.

  • 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 we can do now to act on climate change.

  • Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi – RoboPā.
    RoboPā 2020 provides Māori learners with practical activities that help transform complex STEM concepts into easily understandable concepts. The project is developed on the understanding that cultural practices and frames can be powerful drivers of educational success.

  • Scion - Microplastics detectives: Rotorua sediment under microscope.
    This project will engage year 6-8 students from schools along the Kaituna Catchment (Rotokawa, Whangamarino, Maketu). Each school will assess microparticle contamination in their area and compare with the other schools. Together the students will test the hypothesis that “the microplastics density will be higher going downstream along the Kaituna River”. This study will help understand the source and inflow of plastics into the ocean and support informed decision-making upstream changes to prevent plastic pollution.

New projects will begin in February 2020.

View the list of projects receiving funding in 2020 [PDF, 77 KB].

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