Liggins Institute

SouthSci - Participatory Science Platform

If you had the money and expert help, what question would you try to answer? SouthSci is a South Auckland based programme that offers funding and scientific help to all sorts of research projects, and Liggins researchers have been lending a hand.

Rongomai School students participated in a SouthSci project in 2016

What is SouthSci?

SouthSci is a new programme that connects young people in South Auckland with science, by providing money and experts to help with community research projects. The aim is to show students the value of science, highlight career paths in the science sector, and build relationships between science organisations, researchers and students.


Who's it for?

SouthSci is for community groups, schools, and science education professionals who work with children and young people. You can apply for up to $20,000 for a single project if you and your project are based in south Auckland. Every project must be a collaboration between your community, educators, science or STEM professionals, and young people.


How is the Liggins Institute involved?

Liggins Institute researchers have been working with students at Rongomai School in Otara on a project to redesign their fitness routine, and with students at Manurewa High School on a project that’s investigating physical exercise for diabetes prevention.

Manurewa 1
Manurewa High School students took part in a SouthSci funded project to investigate diabetes prevention.

Year 11 Manurewa High School students got involved with SouthSci for a project to investigate whether exercise can prevent diabetes. They received an $18,500 grant for the project and got to work with experts from the Liggins Institute and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

They learnt how to design physical activity interventions, and how to collect heartrate data using Fitbit HRs to analyse its effectiveness. The students also tried out some clever techniques to measure emotional response to exercises.

They showcased their progress at the Manurewa High School Health Expo, with the Diabetes NZ Auckland Branch van on site for testing, as well as student-designed leaflets and posters, a blind tasting of normal and healthily-cooked traditional foods, and a demonstration of their physical activity interventions.


Rongomai exercise fitbit group photo
Rongomai students took part in a SouthSci funded project to make their morning fitness routine more effective.

Students at Rongomai School in Otara got SouthSci funding for a project to make their school’s morning fitness routine more fun and effective. The goal was to improve STEM literacy and health stats, by measuring and learning about heartrate, exercise intensity, and how a research project has to control the different variables.

STEM Director at Rongomai School, Nicolas Pattison, collaborated with scientists from the Liggins Institute and engineers from Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, to introduce sensors into his class. “The students are more engaged in morning fitness with the idea of having ownership over its design, and seeing effort and improvement via the sensor data”, he said. “Sensor technology is an exciting fast-moving field I’m keen to get the kids interested in, for future potential career paths.”

The project included evening whanau workshops where the students and their family could design and build their own sensors, which the students validated using the experiment’s heartrate sensors. They plan to share the idea as a challenge to other local schools: “Can your students improve their interest and effort in morning fitness using science as much as we have?”



Find out more

If you’ve got a project in mind, or you want to ask about how the programme works, get in touch with the people who run South Sci.

You can also download the information booklet to find out how your project could benefit from expert scientific help and how to apply for funding.

SouthSci is a Participatory Science Platform - an initiative under A Nation of Curious Minds, which is a Government programme to encourage all New Zealanders to get involved with science and technology. A Nation of Curious Minds is coordinated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Education, and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor. For more information, visit