Nine community science projects given a financial boost

Connecting your devices to wireless in the future may be easier thanks to New Plymouth students and Massey University.

Connecting your devices to wireless in the future may be easier thanks to New Plymouth students and Massey University.

Two Taranaki high schools may be the reason you have no Wi-Fi connection problems in the future.

A group of 30 year 12 and 13 students from New Plymouth Boys' and Girls' High Schools, in a science partnership with Massey University, hope to solve wireless connectivity issues faced by communities in Taranaki.

It is one of nine projects that received a share of $100,000 after being selected in the Curious Minds Participatory Science Platform (PSP), which aims to encourage New Zealanders to get involved in science and technology.

Project co-ordinator Eve Kawana-Brown said students all expected Wi-Fi to be there but "they don't think about how it gets there".

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The idea of investigating connectivity issues was initially thought up by Dr Faraz Hasan, a senior lecturer at Massey University who has a passion for engaging youth in this area.

Taranaki PSP co-ordinator Josh Richardson said the benefit of scientists working in tandem with community groups was the opportunity for two-way learning.

"Science professionals offer the expertise necessary to conduct robust investigations, while community members provide local insight and cultural understanding that further elevate the research outcomes."

All the projects that received funding have a link to the Taranaki region and will help the groups learn how science can be utilised to solve problems in their neighbourhoods. 

Hawera High School will investigate the way in which Mt Taranaki last erupted and how it will erupt again and ways to combat this natural disaster in terms of emergency management.

The Otaraua and Manukorihi Hapu will work with BTW Company to investigate the correlation between the ecological diversity indicators of a waterway and watercress abundance.

Makahu School is setting up a trapping project to investigate the distribution of pest species relative to known areas of kiwi and long tail bat presence, while Toko School will investigate the process of distilling materials for their essential oils and hydrosols. 

Woodleigh School want to find a way to effectively repel sandflies and mosquitos in their outdoor learning area.  

The Taranaki Conservationists and MAIN Trust will investigate threats to the New Zealand Dotterel and what can be done to better protect this at-risk species.

Otaraua Hapu and Waitara Alive will investigate the health of whitebait spawning sites along the Waitara River and Wild for Taranaki will work with Central and Makahu Schools to investigate what our feline friends get up to when we're not looking. 

Taranaki is one of three regions to pilot the programme which supports community groups to work collaboratively with science professionals on locally relevant research projects.

These latest announcements are the third round of funding since 2015. 

 - Stuff

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