The Future belongs to the curious

2022 Challenges

 

 

Challenges

Why Science Challenges

The Science Challenges are a means to raise awareness of common-day science-related issues. Over time, scientific understanding continues to change and grow.

We need people with different backgrounds and areas of expertise to investigate various aspects of these issues, and so bring different thinking together. Students with varying interests will have different approaches to tackling problems.

Students, this is your opportunity to think big, ask questions, find science in daily life and work on targeted inquiry-based projects.

How to participate?

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Step 1 - Pick a topic of interest

Pick a topic, from the set of topics below, which tickles your curiosity.

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Step 2 - Pick a team or go solo

Find a suitable team to work with on this project. It will be beneficial to have students with varying interests and experiences in the team. For example, include students with artistic flair to assist with presenting your finding. However, solo projects are also welcome.
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Step 3 - Submit your project

Submit your project for the Regional Science Fair competition, in the same way as for other projects. If you need assistance, contact your teacher/mentor or send us an email.

1

Improving water quality

Get Thinking

  • Are nitrate & lead levels in most parts of NZ water higher than the level recommended by WHO. If so, what are the causes?
  • Explore the effects of nitrate on human health.
  • What is the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL)? How is it measured?
  • How could we reduce the level of contamination in the rivers?

Think big

  • Design a cost-effective and easy to use home water testing kit, which can collate data for analysis.
  • What is the impact of wetland conservation on water quality?

Teacher Support Material

These questions get students thinking about how to test scientifically, e.g. monitoring contamination level in a set period. They also encourage field experiments and may participate in Citizen Science activities.

Resources:

2

Increase renewable energy usage

Get Thinking

  • Understand the issues related to renewable energy production, distribution, usage & storage
  • Why is fossil fuel still a preferred source of energy? How can we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels?

Think big

In the last 3 decades, the percentage of renewable energy used in NZ has only increased from 32% to 39%Source: Energy in NZ 2021 by MBIE ! We are surrounded by sea, how could we harness it?

Teacher Support Material

Students consider the replenishable nature of renewable energy sources such as water, solar, wind, geothermal and bioenergy. Renewable energy reduces the amount of greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere.

Resources:

3

Rongoā Māori
Māori medicine

Get Thinking

  • Understand the traditional Māori healing system and use of herbs.
  • What are the medicinal uses of some NZ plants?
  • Explore its significance in mental health & well being.

Think big

  • Explore the vast knowledge of Rongoā Māori with scientific temperament.
  • Is this an additional tool for enabling health equity in NZ?

Teacher Support Material

Students could explore this topic by analysing health statistics, do field research and also record this mostly orally transmitted knowledge.

Resources:

4

Shaping Science Policy

Get Thinking

  • Debate science policymaking
  • Explore privacy-preserving techniques for
    Deep Learning or Deep Neural Networks (DNNs)
  • How can students help shape national science policymaking?

Think big

Explore the impact of False News/narratives on rational policy making.

Teacher Support Material

These questions get students to explore ways to communicate science and understand the impact of various policies on the community.

Resources:

 

5

Waste management (minimisation)

Get Thinking

  • How much food waste do we generate in NZ?
  • Why do birds and animals ingest plastic waste?
  • Why should working electronic devices go to landfill? How can we repair and reuse them?

Think big

Designing circular economies for home and school

Teacher Support Material

Projects in this category could be focused on the design of waste management processes at home, school or the wider community. Students may choose to complete a technology design process showing creative reuse of waste. Or build simple eco-blocks with daily plastic waste, to contain them in one place and also to understand the quantity we generate.

Resources:

 

6

Whale protection

Get Thinking

  • Do whales have any role in balancing marine biodiversity?
  • Explain the impact on climate change?

Think big

Analyse marine data, build awareness, communicate with the public through art, app, advertisement/infographics etc.

Teacher Support Material

These questions get students thinking about the marine ecosystem and its impact on our existence.

Resources:

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Student Resources