Te Kura o Papatuanuku Wairarapa Earth School project is supported by the Curious Minds contestable fund. 


Curious Minds seeks to encourage and enable better engagement with science and technology across all sectors of New Zealand, to bring about a nation of Curious Minds, where science is inspiring, recognisable, highly valued and personally relevant to all New Zealanders. Curious Minds seeks to achieve three main outcomes:

  1. more science and technology-competent learners, and more choosing STEM-related career pathways

  2. a more scientifically and technologically engaged public and a more publicly engaged science sector

  3. a more skilled workforce and more responsive science and technology.


The Wairarapa Montessori Charitable Trust has formed a partnership with the local community group, Project Wairarapa and three Wairarapa schools: Kuranui College, Makoura College and South End School.

The core focus of this project is education for sustainability. Our project seeks to empower students to take action for a sustainable future. The project will combine the research, planning and design of an organic farming enterprise with an eco-school building and science lab for food and produce processing and outdoor learning.  The students will have to present their ideas, research outputs and final plans to local experts, mentors and the finally to the public as part of a Sustainability Week display to be hosted at the Carterton Events Centre in December 2017.

Many rural schools have fields that are costly to maintain. These fields are  an untapped outdoor learning resource with immense potential to increase student engagement and create revenue for struggling rural schools.

Our project asks the question:

Can students turn an empty school paddock into a space where science and technology can be investigated?

Students from three Wairarapa schools (South End, Kuranui and Makoura) will rise to the challenge to research new technologies, plan and design a science learning hub and sustainable farming enterprise on South End School’s empty field.

Students will develop a blueprint for turning the field into a sustainable and financially viable science and agricultural learning hub. The project promotes hands-on activities to fuel student curiosity and allow independent cross-curricular learning to take place inside and outside the classroom.


The two challenges students will investigate are:

  1. How to use the school field in a profit making sustainable farming enterprise

  1. How to design an eco-farm school/science lab building run on renewable energy

The project will be entirely student-led. Working in mixed aged groups  (5-16yrs), interested students from the three schools will decide what they want to grow and build by asking advice from local expert mentors.

This approach to learning is known as Project-Based Learning - a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges. This type of complex open ended real world challenge ignites the students imagination and fuels a passion for scientific research and investigative learning.

Curious Minds is jointly managed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry of Education and the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Advisor.

We have created a page to help teachers get going with project based learning: