South Auckland youth get financial boost for STEM projects

Over 400 young people from South Auckland will benefit from SouthSci funding to find science-based solutions to community problems.

Funding of over $ 170,000 has been approved for 11 projects to be carried out in collaboration with experts in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), such as Auckland University of Technology, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, l ‘University of Auckland, Manukau Institute of Technology and STEM companies.

SouthSci, an initiative of Te Hononga Akoranga – COMET, is part of Curious Minds, the government’s strategic plan to encourage everyone in New Zealand to engage in science and technology.

Ying Yang, head of SouthSci, explains that this year’s projects include a great mix of ages and subjects, but that a common theme for many is exploring issues that concern their communities – whether it’s investigate energy poverty, biodiversity loss, pollution in local waterways, or design tools for people with physical disabilities. Yang says she can’t wait to see the creative solutions the project teams come up with.

“I am also delighted to see how our project teams are exploring science in a way that is truly relevant to their community, for example, by incorporating aspects of indigenous Samoan knowledge and culture into some projects. “

Last year, Pasifika Early Learning – Le Malelega a le To’elau Pasifika and Pasifika Early Learning – Puna o le Atamai Aoga Amata, based in Mangere, received $ 15,000 each for their projects with over 60 children aged 0 at 5.

Students at Pasifika Early Learning – Le Malelega a le To’elau Pasifika explored how much they could reduce waste in the daycare over a six month period, while Pasifika Early Learning – Puna o le Atamai Aoga Amata examined where comes the energy they use. of.

Pasifika Early Learning, communications specialist, Ina Fautua, says the projects have enabled children to engage in science and extend their learning through experience.

“We looked at how ancestors used science, such as how they used resources to make fires, cultivate kumara for body energy, and make coconut oil. Next, we looked at how we are now using science to source or recycle energy. “

Fautua says funding is important because it provides more opportunities for students to learn and expand their knowledge in a fun and interactive way.

On Thursday, June 17, the annual SouthSci Symposium at the University of Auckland in Manukau celebrated projects nearing completion. SouthSci teams presented their STEM projects to other participating community groups and schools.

Yang says that with young people across New Zealand lagging behind in math and science, initiatives like SouthSci give them the opportunity to participate in hands-on, locally relevant and project-based learning.

“This leads to more authentic and meaningful experiences which will hopefully propel them to become more interested in STEM topics and to better appreciate the importance of STEM in our daily lives.”

For more information on SouthSci, visit cometauckland.org.nz/our-initiatives/southsci


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