Unlocking Curious Minds supports projects that excite and engage New Zealanders who have fewer opportunities to experience and connect with science and technology.
Two projects run by Otago Museum have taken home prizes at the 2019 New Zealand Museum Awards.
Kia Rapua Science Playground and Space Central, both supported by the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund, have been deemed 2019's Most Innovative Education Programme and Most Innovative Public Programme respectively at the Museum Awards this year.
Kia Rapua Science Playground was created for very young children to experience scientifically exploring the world around them using a portable playground that toured schools around the Otago region.
Space Central revolves around the Interplanetary Cycle Trail in Central Otago, a 100-million-to-one model replica of the Solar System running along the Otago Central Rail Trail in which cyclists can experience travelling through space and time.
Nathalie Wierdak, project lead for Kia Rapua, says, "I'm truly thrilled to see this project win the inaugural Most Innovative Education Programme award. I hope this can be a first step towards more science engagement opportunities for very young Kiwis. We learned so much from working in collaboration with early childhood education centres and their dedicated staff. They really played a key role in the success of our project."
The annual ServiceIQ New Zealand Museum Awards recognise the best and most innovative exhibitions, programmes and museum projects in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Craig Grant, Director of Science Engagement at Otago Museum, attended the ceremony on Wednesday 22 May and accepted the awards on behalf of the project teams.
“These really are the icing on the cake for both projects," he says. "The main reward was the amazing feedback we got when delivering the projects, but it’s always nice to be recognised by your peers, and given the quality of the other projects we were up against, it gives us confidence we’re doing something right!"
"It’s also great to be able to share this with all our project partners, including the early childhood centres, Central Otago schools, the Otago Central Rail Trail Trust, Ian Begg, Naseby Vision, Catalyst Trust, the Dodd-Walls Centre and NASA. They gave an enormous amount of time and resources, so having their efforts recognised as being of national quality is fab."