Unlocking Curious Minds
Unlocking Curious Minds is a science initiative funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE). It supports innovative projects that will excite and engage New Zealanders, particularly young people (aged 18 years and under), who have fewer opportunities to be involved with science and technology.
The objective of the fund is to support projects that use innovative and/or best-practice approaches to provide New Zealanders with more opportunities to learn about and engage with science and technology, by:
- funding education and community outreach initiatives that focus on science and technology
- broadening participants’ ability to engage with science and technology
- promoting the relevance of science and technology in their lives, and
- supporting them to engage in societal debate about science and technology issues facing the country.
Current and upcoming projects at Landcare Research
Dust Busters: Dust-mite allergy triggers
Our project aims to introduce students to the microscopic world of house dust and in particular, house dust mites (HDM). Some people are allergic to house dust, and it can cause sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, nasal stuffiness, runny nose, respiratory problems, eczema and asthma. “Dust Busters” aims to teach students about house dust, what is in it, how to quantify what is in their homes using vacuum cleaners and a standardised sampling protocol. Students will be involved in laboratory microscope techniques used to identify mites and other allergens, e.g. fungal mould spores.
Moths are underappreciated but essential and highly responsive parts of our ecosystem. MothNet: Identifying, Strengthening and Restoring Connections will engage the public and raise the appreciation of moths as ecological indicators of the health and connectedness of our natural world. This project provides teachers, students and whanau with the skills, tools and connections to run a nationally significant scientific experiment. Employing internationally recognised moth-monitoring techniques to evaluate the effectiveness of vegetation restoration in restoring ecosystem function. Providing first-hand engagement with scientific thinking, processes and methods will enable participants to identify, strengthen and restore connections between their culture and science.
Reconnect Māori students in te reo to indigenous scientific knowledge and uses of fungi
We will reconnect Māori students to indigenous knowledge about fungi, including traditional uses for rongoa and food. Much knowledge has already been lost. Partnering with Ngapuhi, Tuhoe and Ngai Tahu, we will collate traditional knowledge about fungi with material in English. This synthesis of knowledge will be translated into te reo to add to curricula for Kura Kaupapa and Kura Tuarua, delivering enduring benefit to Māori students. Additional to reconnecting students to traditional knowledge, we will motivate students to take science in secondary and tertiary education, and inspire a new generation of entrepreneurs to develop natural products using indigenous knowledge.
The UCM Tūhonohono team is involved with two environmental projects, the pātaka kai Te Huahua o Kinohaku, and the restoration of the Maniapoto cave.
Weeds in New Zealand are increasing and now outnumber our native flora. Discovering what weeds are where is essential for their effective management, and community observations are increasingly important to uncover new infestations and species. This new project will work with Enviro-schools and whanau to discover which weeds occur in four under-collected areas: Auckland, the ‘Weed capital of the world’, Gisborne, Wellington’s Kapiti Coast and South Island’s West Coast. School children will learn how to find and identify weeds and biocontrol agents using guidebooks and an online weeds key, and how to upload their observations through NatureWatch NZ.