Venture Taranaki has announced funding for a further eight local science and technology projects under the Curious Minds Programme, meaning more than 30 community science projects have now been supported.

“Taranaki is one of only three regions where the Curious Minds programme is operating, and this is the fourth round of funding since it launched in 2015. The total investment in community science projects is now over $500,000,” says the project’s coordinator Josh Richardson of Venture Taranaki.

“This has enabled a significant contribution to science, and helps more and more people from across our community to understand their local habitat, collect data in areas where there is no existing information, and tackle issues that are important to them.”

“This year’s projects focus on improving our understanding of soil, marine ecology, wetland ecology, wireless connectivity, local amphibian populations, cat behaviour, penguin monitoring, and marine litter in Taranaki,” Josh says.

“These projects team local community groups with specialist science and technology professionals, showing the power of collaboration, and all of this year’s projects also partner with local schools.”

There is still a limited amount of funding available, and Venture Taranaki is calling for anyone with an idea for a science or technology research project to get in touch with them. For inspiration here is a list of the projects funded so far in 2018:
  • Midhirst School are taking the first step in developing a school orchard. Students will be undertaking soil testing, before trialling a range of different soil treatments to see what produces the best soil for growing the kind of fruit trees suited to the Midhirst climate.
     
  • Te Atiawa Iwi Charitable Trust is bringing together a range of hapū, marae, kura, schools, and community groups to investigate the connectivity of taonga species inside and outside Tapuae Marine Reserve and Ngā Motu/Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area (SLIMPA), and benthic structures further offshore.
     
  • East Taranaki Environment Trust are extending the reach of their successful Bug ALERT! project to include Egmont Village, and Ratapiko schools. The students will be working with scientists to investigate whether or not the increase in wetland vegetation at Purangi has led to an increase in invertebrate biodiversity and abundance.
     
  • Massey University in collaboration with PrimoWireless will educate and train students on the methods used to analyse the quality of wireless connectivity (signal strength and interference) at a given location.  Students will then analyse wireless connectivity around the given location and develop a plan to improve the quality of the network, then be guided to apply what they have learnt to the bigger question of solving region-wide connectivity issues in Taranaki.
     
  • Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Mutunga are leading an investigation into the whereabouts, the type and the number of frogs that can be found in North Taranaki. Schools and community members will gather information on existing frog habitats, then undertake frog call surveys and install acoustic devices to digitally record the frogs. The team will also be looking for rare native frogs in the Parininihi Forest.
     
  • MAIN Trust NZ are working with Welbourn School and numerous communities to question how domestic cats are interacting with sensitive natural areas and will investigate ways of altering cat behaviour to allow positive outcomes for pet cat welfare and endangered species conservation.
     
  • Ngā Motu Marine Reserve Society are seeking to improve our knowledge on little blue penguin nesting behaviour in Taranaki. The ‘Finding Little Blue’ project team will be working with Puketapu and Devon Intermediate Schools to map existing burrow locations and design methods for monitoring the penguins throughout the year.
     
  • Highlands Intermediate School want to gather more information on the types and origins of litter found along the Taranaki coastline. The students will work with the TRC and MetOcean Solutions to undertake a series of litter surveys at the Tapuae Marine Reserve, and then use oceanographic modelling to understand where these items may have originated.
 
Additional info:
The PSP is offered in three areas nationwide: Taranaki, South Auckland and Otago. It is an initiative under A Nation of Curious Minds, a government programme to encourage New Zealanders to get involved in science and technology. A Nation of Curious Minds is coordinated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Education and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. See www.curiousminds.nz

Further information:
Josh Richardson, programme coordinator: 06 759 5158 or josh@venture.org.nz