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Otago Museum cements science communication leadership

Media release – 16 December 2021

Otago Museum cements science communication leadership

 

Otago Museum’s Science Engagement Team has been given a boost with new support for two new outreach projects through the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation’s (MBIE) Unlocking Curious Minds (UCM) fund.

“We are thrilled”, said Jessa Barder. Otago Museum’s Science Engagement Manager. “Not many people realise that Otago Museum not only has Tūhura, the country’s largest science centre in New Zealand, but also the largest science engagement team. Our team’s tag line is effectively ‘Taking science to the country’ Not everyone can come and enjoy our fabulous Tūhura, so we do our best to take science to communities across Aotearoa New Zealand.“

“Otago Museum has always been active throughout Otago with its science outreach, but over recent years we’ve extended our capacity and reach, to become the powerhouse that it is today. This external funding not only enables us to deliver more regionally, but also to share such experiences throughout the rest of the country, and in particular to our most remote communities, as well as to marae and kura” she continued.

The Museum was the only recipient of two projects, out of a total of 13, and gained $202,000 in funding from a pool of $1.592 million. The 2022 investment round of the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund grants start on 1 February 2022.

The first of the two projects is called Āwhinatia te Wero. It aims to unpack the science of traditional and contemporary technologies to help inspire and empower rakatahi Māori, to address today’s challenges and visualise a future for themselves that includes both Te Ao Māori and science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).  The project will be delivered to kura and marae across Te Waipounamu, in conjunction with partners from Otago and Canterbury Universities, as well as the New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research.”

 “Through the Unlocking Curious Minds 2021 contestable fund, the Government is supporting a wide range of really fun, hands-on projects, investigating subjects like nature, climate change, and Mātauranga Māori to empower rangatahi to connect with science and technology in a way that is meaningful to them”, said Minister Hon Dr Megan Woods.

The second Otago Museum project to win funding is Islands to Arks: Sharing Stories and STEM Solutions. With afocus on climate change, the project aims to help Pacific youth and families build scientific literacy and make more informed decisions based on science. “Aotearoa's Pacific population is fast out-growing that of all other population groups. It is also a youthful population. In 15 to 20 years, one in five New Zealand children will be Pacific, and one in eight workers under 39 will be Pacific. This makes it critical that Pacific youth are exposed to STEM in a fashion that is engaging and relevant to them” said Ms Barder.

“We are delighted to receive this funding from UCM. It will allow Otago Museum to work alongside a range of communities we would not otherwise be able to reach, and engage them with hands-on mātauranga Māori and STEM experiences that will be important understanding their past but also might help shape their future career path”, said Ms Barder.

For more information contact:

Jessa Barder, Science Engagement Manager

jessa.barder@otagomuseum.nz | 03 479 3245