The Curious Minds Participatory Science Platform (PSP) is an initiative to increase New Zealander’s engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths and mātauranga Māori).
The programme is part of MBIE’s A Nation of Curious Minds – He Whenua Hihiri i te Mahara initiative, and has been running in 3 regions – Otago, Taranaki, and south Auckland – since 2015.
It works by bringing together STEM professionals, students and community to work together on year-long science research or design projects. Each project receives up to $20,000 in funding and project support, to enable participants to have access to the resources they need to solve their problem.
“Whether it’s dealing with a changing environment, confronting health challenges, improving our communities or producing high-value products and services, New Zealand needs people who can ask questions” – A Nation of Curious Minds
Participatory Science projects build a partnership between the scientists or technologists and the broader community. This leads to deeper engagement and longer-lasting impacts, both for the learners who gain new knowledge and real-world STEM experiences and for the STEM businesses and professionals who support this programme.
Participatory science enhances the way students learn, supports teacher development and provides a rewarding pathway for STEM organisations to give back to their community.
In 2021, an analysis of Curious Minds south Auckland PSP was completed using a range of qualitative and quantitative (participant survey) data.
The analysis suggests that the PSP is achieving positive outcomes across all key objectives.
Students and teachers reported greater awareness of science and technology after completing their Curious Minds project, especially in seeing the relevance of science in their lives and communities. There has also been strong buy-in from STEM partners and the local community, with significant co-funding and in-kind support donated to the projects.
But there is more to do! Long-term partnerships are hard work. They need to be built on a foundation of trust, purposeful objectives and two-way communication. Curious Minds will continue to support groups in our communities to develop these partnerships and inspire long-term changes in STEM education.
Read the full Outcomes Snapshot here:
To find out more about Curious Minds South Auckland (SouthSci), visit the Te Hononga Akoranga COMET website.