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Nine new community projects launch in Auckland


Nine Participatory Science Platform projects in Auckland have been given the green light for 2020, including creating a sensory garden for neurodiverse students and 3D printing redesigned moth traps.

This year, more than 300 young people in Auckland will take part in unique projects that focus on finding science-based solutions to local problems.

Funds of over $135,000 have just been approved by SouthSci for nine projects in the region for 2020. SouthSci refers to the south Auckland Participatory Science Platform (PSP), which is managed by COMET Auckland.

This year’s local projects range from using mathematical modeling to assess the problem of affordable housing in south Auckland to designing an efficient, easy-to-use waste management and recycling system for under 5-year-olds.

The projects will be carried out by communities and schools in collaboration with STEM (science, technology, engineering & maths) experts such as scientists from Plant & Food Research, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, and Auckland University of Technology.

"The groups this year are especially impressive as they managed to build relationships between STEM experts and community groups, design projects and successfully navigate the application process in the majority during lockdown," says SouthSci Manager Dr Sarah Morgan.

"We’re seeing the result of a really robust process for setting up collaborative community-driven research projects, in partnership with a really great team."

At Reremoana School, over a hundred Year 4 – 6 students are partnering with Watercare and Autism New Zealand for their new project. The team plans to design and build a system where non-mains water is collected, treated and used to water a sensory garden that will cater to neurodiverse students.

The students are already drawing up ideas and making prototypes of the different sensory equipment they plan on making for the garden, as well as learning about the water supply system for Auckland – which is especially important during a drinking-water drought.

Reremoana School Teacher Chynna Swan says that without funding, students would not be able to take on a project of this size.

She says the funding allows students to apply their learning to real life experiences, which they would be missing out on if they did not have this support: “It allows our students to be able to see how science is used every day.”

Auckland is one of three regions where the Participatory Science Platform has been operating since 2015, with the other two regions being Taranaki and Otago. The Participatory Science Platform is part of the Curious Minds suite of programmes and invests in innovative projects that encourage everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand to engage with science and technology. 


Project details:

  • Watering a difficult to reach community garden by way of a cost-effective and environmentally sustainable method with low carbon footprint design (The Gardens School, Manurewa, and the Botanic Gardens).

  • Testing household ingredients like vegemite and marmite to attract guava moth and re-designing efficient traps to work with them, by way of CAD-based 3-D printing (East Tamaki School, and Plant & Food Research).

  • Making food healthier and reducing food packaging waste, turning it as environmentally sustainable as possible (Manurewa Central School and AUT).

  • Designing and installing a rainwater collection system and using it to water a sensory garden catering to neurodiverse students (Reremoana School and Water Care).

  • Designing an efficient, easy-to-use waste management and recycling system for under 5-year-olds (Le Malelega a Le To'elau, Manukau Beautification Trust and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare).

  • Investigation into the storm and wastewater overflow situation in the Otara-Papatoetoe region to determine their environmental impact (Accelerating Aotearoa).

  • Using mathematical modeling to assess the current and future projected problem of affordable housing in South Auckland (AUT and Manurewa High School).

  • Investigating electricity production via sustainable means or otherwise in real time and examining the role every individual can play to optimise its use and help in its conservation, protecting the environment and saving money (Puna Ole Atamai, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare).

  • Monitoring and analysing data on the pollutants caught in LittaTraps and developing appropriate intervention methods to help reduce the pollutants entering the local storm water system and then major Auckland waterways (Tread Lightly Charitable Trust)

More information is on the SouthSci website


Scientists and locals collaborating around a table

Participatory Science Platform

Supports collaborative projects that bring together communities and scientists or technologists on research investigating a locally-important question or problem.

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