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Kiwi curiosity at heart of science engagement

Hon Steven Joyce

Minister of Science & Innovation

Hon Hekia Parata

Minister of Education

29 July 2014

Media Statement

Kiwi curiosity at heart of science engagement

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Education Minister Hekia Parata today launched the Government’s action plan to encourage engagement with science and technology across all sectors of New Zealand.

A Nation of Curious Minds: He Whenua Hirihi I te Mahara – is the blueprint for the Science in Society Project and has been jointly developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Education with close involvement from the office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.

The plan lists four key areas for action:

• creating new opportunities for teachers and students to engage with scientists and industry both inside and outside the classroom, right across the education system

• attracting students from a wider range of backgrounds to study science and technology and follow careers in the growing STEM-related occupations

• encouraging the science sector to be more engaged with the wider community so New Zealanders are more aware of the relevance of scientific research and the new technologies and innovations it provides

• setting up a new platform to engage students, communities and scientists in to set up participatory research projects across the New Zealand, where volunteers, teachers and students can collaborate with science professionals.

“Science, and the knowledge and innovation that flow from it, plays a critical role in creating and defining our future,” Mr Joyce says. “As many New Zealanders as possible should be able to respond to the challenges and opportunities science presents, and have the confidence to take part in debates involving science and technology.”

Ms Parata says the importance of science and innovation for the future of New Zealand cannot be underestimated.

“If we are serious about ensuring a prosperous future for every New Zealander, we must ensure all our young people have the best possible opportunity to achieve educational success,” Ms Parata says.

“Lifting engagement and achievement in science education is absolutely vital and the education profession must prepare all New Zealanders to be participants, and leaders, in the 21st century.”

The Ministry of Education has allocated $3.9 million towards the plan including $400,000 over the first two years to fund the Science Skills in Education Initiative, plus the $3.5 million for teacher and learner support and resources for the science curriculum announced previously. MBIE is dedicating $2.7 million in the 2014/15 year to support new Science in Society Initiatives.

Among the programmes to help achieve the goals in the plan are a contestable fund available for projects aimed at engaging harder-to-reach groups and a Science Skills in Education initiative to support schools and teachers to build confidence and access resources to build rich, exciting science programmes.

The plan responds to the Science in Society leadership challenge identified by the National Science Challenges Panel in 2013. The plan will be closely monitored during its first year of operation and the Science in Society reference group will be reconvened over the next year to consider refinements to it.

A Nation of Curious Minds: He Whenua Hirihi I te Mahara is available at:http://www.msi.govt.nz/update-me/major-projects/science-and-society-project/

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