In 2010 the Todd Foundation, with the help of the Royal Society of New Zealand, developed a science initiative to generate “wow” hands-on science experiences in primary schools. The aim was to inspire curiosity and foster understanding, investigation and participation in science at primary level. Curious Classrooms started with students, teachers and principals from 17 South Auckland and Mt. Roskill schools. The project initially sought to match the science needs of schools with science providers such as Stardome, the Science Roadshow and the Auckland Botanic Gardens. These providers worked with teachers to provide relevant and engaging science tailored to each school’s needs.
In the next phase, with targeted professional learning development and a small grant from the Todd Foundation, schools were supported to deliver wow science experiences themselves. An external evaluation showed that Curious Classrooms has been a win-win for both schools and science providers. The schools have new learning pathways they can continue, either by themselves or with science providers. Science providers have developed new programmes, and can see different ways of working with schools.
The Todd Foundation supported Curious Classrooms with total funding of $423,000 over 5 years. Ian Kennedy and the team at National Science-Technology Roadshow managed the project, with the support of Jessie McKenzie and the Royal Society along the way. We acknowledge their great work, and also thank Jenny Robertson for completing the independent evaluation. And finally, a big thanks to all the students, teachers, principals and schools who participated in the Curious Classrooms project over the last 5 years.