Govt launches more opportunities to engage ‘curious minds’

The Government has introduced a new nationwide action plan to encourage engagement with science and technology.

A Nation of Curious Minds: He Whenua Hirihi I te Mahara was launched this week by Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Education Minister Hekia Parata.

“If we are serious about ensuring a prosperous future for every New Zealander, we must ensure all our young people have the best possible opportunity to achieve educational success,” Hekia Parata says.

“Lifting engagement and achievement in science education is absolutely vital and the education profession must prepare all New Zealanders to be participants, and leaders, in the 21st century.”

A Nation of Curious Minds outlines four areas for action.

Firstly, there is the creation of opportunities to engage with scientists and industry both inside and outside the classroom.

Attracting students into study science and technology is also a focus, with the aim of leading students into careers involving the STEM-related occupations, an area of high growth within New Zealand.

A further goal is assist New Zealanders to be more aware of scientific research, new technology and innovations by promoting a closer engagement between the science sector and the wider community.

There will also be the opportunity for closer collaboration between students, teachers, communities and scientists via a new platform to set up participatory research projects.

The initiative has been developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Ministry of Education, with further assistance from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor’s office.

The plan is the ‘blueprint’ for the Science in Society Project, and has been developed in response to the leadership challenge identified by the National Science Challenges Panel in 2013.

$3.9 million is allocated to the plan by the Ministry of Education, including $400, 000 to fund the Science Skills in Education Initiative over the initial two years, and plus the previously announced $3.5 million for support and resources for the science curriculum.

In 2014/2015 the MBIE is contributing $2.7 million in support of new Science in Society Initiatives.

“Science, and the knowledge and innovation that flow from it, plays a critical role in creating and defining our future,” Steven Joyce says.

“As many New Zealanders as possible should be able to respond to the challenges and opportunities science presents, and have the confidence to take part in debates involving science and technology.”

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