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Year 5/6 Students 3D-print Flooding Systems As $150,000 STEM Funding Round Opens

Attention budding South Auckland scientists! Over $150,000 in funding is now up for grabs for schools, universities, community and iwi groups as applications for the Curious Minds Participatory Science Platform: South Auckland are open.

Curious Minds South Auckland funding offers unique opportunities for groups to access the resources and support they need to tackle a big question or solve a problem using science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).

Each group can apply for up to $20,000, excluding GST, under this scheme that is into its ninth year.

Applications are open now for three funding rounds that close on 27 November 2023, 26 February 2024 and 25 March 2024. Projects must have community relevance, tackle a substantive scientific question in active partnership with a STEM partner; and offer educational value for everyone involved. As the fund is competitive, applicants are encouraged to apply early.

The 2024 funding cycle will be the last for Curious Minds South Auckland, and the COMET team are strongly committed to working with schools, community and science partners to develop impactful projects and support them through to project completion. We encourage prospective applicants to apply early so you don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity.

A great example of a recent project funded by Curious Minds took place at Christ the King Catholic School in Mt Roskill across three terms. Following the Auckland Anniversary floods in Tāmaki Makaurau, year 5 and 6 students (10-11 years old) investigated whether future flooding events in the area could be minimised by adopting a water-sensitive design approach to urban development. Working alongside stormwater engineers and scientists, six identical model neighbourhoods were built, and then six project groups designed and 3D printed components for their neighbourhood’s stormwater system, creating guttering, drains, stormwater ponds, rain gardens, and green roofs.

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Curious Minds introduced the school to their STEM partners - a stormwater engineer at Auckland Council Healthy Waters who taught the teacher and students about water-sensitive design, and a science educator at MPHS Community Trust who helped with water quality sampling. Funding enabled the purchase of 3D printers, water testing kits, a trip to MOTAT for a 3D printing workshop and several trips guided by the stormwater engineer for students to tour urban developments around Auckland containing water-sensitive design elements.

Curious Minds South Auckland is an initiative of Te Hononga Akoranga COMET and MBIE’s A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara. Project Manager Ying Yang says young people have incredible potential to be the next generation of scientists and innovators to help tackle global problems. But systemic inequalities in education mean some students risk being left behind.

“We know that having access to quality resources, meaningful learning opportunities and role models are key to engaging students in STEM. Curious Minds funding supports all those things. We want to make STEM more accessible to more people. Connecting young people to locally relevant issues and empowering them to be changemakers is crucial. A purpose-driven objective helps to build strong relationships with STEM and community partners, who offer invaluable knowledge and mentoring.

“I’ve also seen students gain a huge sense of achievement when they contribute new knowledge or solutions that improve the wellbeing of their community and environment. This propels them to pursue their interests further and stay engaged in STEM education”.

Projects previously funded by Curious Minds include:
• Tangaroa College’s investigation into how fructose absorption varies among students and adults.
• Waiuku College’s design challenge to build a carbon-neutral, modular hydroponic garden
• Royal Oak Primary School’s investigation into native bird populations using birdsong monitoring

To find out more and/or get started on an application, please contact Ying Yang on 021 195 4934; email STEM@cometauckland.org.nz or visit the Curious Minds South Auckland website.

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