Waitaki Whitestone Geopark has won government funding to aid in its aim to inspire a new generation of people who will care for our planet and its people.
Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods recently announced funding for 34 projects across New Zealand through the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund.
Megan Woods says the funding will go towards engaging more children and their teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects.
“Curious Minds is all about inspiring our kids, teens, rangatahi and communities from all backgrounds to get excited about science, which will ultimately help us improve diversity and increase the overall number of people studying and working in STEM fields. This is one of the ways that we will move towards a highly skilled, innovative workforce fit for the 21st century.”
Waitaki Whitestone Geopark Manager Gerard Quinn said the funding win, coming hard on the heels of the team’s application dossier for Global Geopark status being sent to UNESCO in Paris, felt like an endorsement, “We’re dedicated to fulfilling the tenets of a successful geopark – one of the most important being education about our land and its impact on people’s lives, and vice-versa.”
Waitaki Whitestone Geopark will receive $30,000 for our programme ‘School of Rocks’ which will engage primary schools in the Waitaki District.
Project lead and resident geologist Sophie Briggs says the aim of the programme is to use the local geology as a medium through which to get primary school students engaged in science and technology:
“Students will explore earth science and spatial technology through a series of hands-on exercises and experiences run throughout the school year. Each exercise will be based on scientific inquiry into questions unique to key geosites within the Geopark, and will involve making observations, testing hypotheses, gathering and interpreting information, and communicating results. "
School of Rocks will use students’ existing connection to the land to guide learning topics and demonstrate that scientific inquiry is relevant to their own lives.
“The Geopark, is more than just geology it’s about telling the story of our culture and human endeavour from the first people, through the Victorians who left their stamp on Oamaru, to present day”
The principle learning outcome is for students to develop an understanding of key earth science concepts while applying the scientific process, and gain the skills they need to become responsible kaitiaki of the geologic heritage within the Waitaki Whitestone Geopark.