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Science & Tech. Promotion Fund Grants Awarded

Announcement by the Royal Society of New Zealand
Monday 11 October, 2004

Science and Technology Promotion Fund Grants Awarded

Tradeable science cards, ‘mathematical’ barn dances, and an undersea soundscape are just three of the new initiatives sponsored this year by the Science and Technology Promotion Fund. Nine projects have been awarded a total of $419,675 in the 2004 round of funding, announced by the Royal Society of New Zealand today. The projects range from a sophisticated interactive physics website to a touring exhibition of live tuatara, a scheme using water to excite young people about science, and an explanation of why Reefton was New Zealand’s first town to get electricity.

The Government's Science and Technology Promotion Fund, established in1998 and administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand, awards money to groups to develop innovative activities and projects that promote science and technology in an exciting or creative way. For information on projects of specific interest to you or your area, see below.

Bottled Lightning
Organisation: The Powerhouse Committee
Awarded: $34,675
Reefton was the first town in New Zealand to get a public reticulated electricity supply and so became the first town in the Southern hemisphere to fire up both carbon arc and Edison / Swan carbon filament street lighting. Now a video will be made showing why Reefton was such an early adopter of the technology, how water power has helped humans through the ages, and what basic science is used in the technology of hydro-power generation.

The Dance of Mathematics
Organisation: University of Canterbury
Awarded: $22,000
Mathematics and music will mingle at community barn dances in small central South Island towns next year, with associated demos from top mathematical entertainers on topics such as ‘Shadows from the Fourth Dimension’. The events will show the wider public that mathematics is done by ‘real’ people and that dancing is often just combinatorics, group action, and vector field flows!

Organisation: e-net Ltd
Awarded: (to be confirmed)
e=mc² is a website celebrating the centenary of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity and the most famous equation in the world. The site will provide New Zealand kids with an interactive experience of physics topics treated through video-streamed interviews, stories, video conferences, interactive software and links to related websites.

Organisation: Otago Museum
Awarded: $81,000
‘SciCards’ is a trading card project designed to connect science and technology with pop culture by providing a tradeble, collectable and interactive game which is fun, empowering, and connected to the lifestyle of 8-12 year olds. Each card will represent a topic, such as energy, and include an exciting challenge, such as extracting the fat from a chip. Amazing facts, suggestions for further discovery, and virtual reality challenges will be included for each card on the associated website.

Organisation: Waikato Museum
Awarded: $18,000
Sci-Quest is a touring exhibition about having fun with waves and motion areas of physics. The exhibition lets visitors test out waves and motion equipment, solve the looming energy crisis, or test out the Gravity Well, Bernoulli Blower or Giant Guitar String and will feature at science centres around New Zealand.

Organisation: Auckland Museum Institute
Awarded: $18,000
OUCH!, a new exhibition being developed by the Auckland Museum, will deal with the animals and plants that are dangerous to humans, their biology and behaviour, and the science of venom and its effects on the body. It will include impressive live displays, mosquitoes and redback spiders, German wasp nest with close up live video cameras, and live stinging jellyfish, as well as interactive models. The funding provided will help construct interactive models as part of the exhibition and transport groups of people from South Auckland to the Museum to participate.

World of Water
Organisation: Partners Porirua Charitable Trust
Awarded: $28,000
World of water will offer Porirua intermediate schools a complete package of water-based experiences focusing on water quality, cultural issues around water and seafood, and water in our local environment. The partnership between Partners Porirua, a range of businesses and agencies involved with water in the region will allow the project to lift students’ aspirations and expectations and increase their wonder and knowledge about science and technology research, its applications, and how it relates to everyday life.

Undersea Soundscape of Wellington Harbour
Organisation: National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Awarded: $43,000
This project will allow people to immerse themselves in the undersea sound environment of the Wellington harbour while keeping their feet dry. Two underwater microphones in Evan’s Bay will be processed in real time and accessed via the internet, with accompanying information available on topics such as sound propagation physics, marine mammal behaviour, and meteorology. A second stage will take the project to the streets, creating an interactive display for public places.

Tuatara: a taonga for the people of New Zealand
Organisation: Victoria University of Wellington
Awarded: $85,000
This project will bring science and technology to New Zealand school children via exciting presentations on the conservation of tuatara, using the latest research findings, multi-media techniques, and live tuatara. Presentations will show both a scientific and Mâori perspective on the history and place of tuatara within New Zealand culture.


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