New resources teach Indigenous contexts in Science - Education Matters
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New resources to teach Indigenous contexts in Science

Aboriginal-and-Torres-Straight-Islander-Cultures-Science-Acara

A new suite of resources from Foundation to Year 10 has been launched to support Science teachers in integrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures into their lessons.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has also published teacher background information for the resources for Foundation to Year 6.

Building on work completed in 2018 (when ACARA published 95 ‘elaborations’ – practical examples across all three strands of the Science curriculum and all year levels), the final compilation of teacher background information adds additional detail to these elaborations and is now available for use.

The information includes detailed explanations into the cultural and historical significance of each topic and the connection to the core Science curriculum content. It also includes a list of consulted works, provided as evidence of the research undertaken.

ACARA CEO, David de Carvalho, said it was important for students to have the opportunity to engage with our world’s oldest living cultures, and that combining this knowledge and understanding with core scientific concepts would only enhance student learning in a positive way.

“We have a complete research-based, scientifically rigorous teaching resource that supports Foundation to Year 10 teachers of Science,” he said. “The elaborations have already proved a useful starting point in enhancing teacher knowledge and enthusiasm about incorporating our Indigenous culture into science.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP, welcomed ACARA’s announcement saying it was important that Indigenous Australians have the opportunity to study STEM subjects.

“This initiative will provide practical support and help remove barriers to study, meaning Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can work towards employment opportunities in the growing STEM industry,” Minister Wyatt said.

“Having access to quality education is vital to securing long term job security and economic prosperity.”

In South Australia, work is underway to roll out the elaborations into schools around the state. Local Science teachers are working with Aboriginal communities, the South Australian education department, the South Australian Museum and ACARA to develop teaching resources and improve teacher cultural awareness.

Sam Tuffnell, Science and STEM Coordinator at Woodville High School, is among those teachers. “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the oldest, continuous living culture in the world and it would be negligent of us as a scientific community to not embed their knowledge in mainstream classroom learning. This is the educational right of all students,” Mr Tuffnell said.

“This project is about working with community and we have the privilege of working with Kaurna/Ngarrindjeri/Narungga Elders who guides us in contextualising these elaborations.

“This inclusive consultation process is most important as we need to be respectful of the local cultural knowledge we incorporate in these contextualisations. It would be remiss to make generalisations about Aboriginal knowledge.”

The F–10 elaborations and teacher background information can be accessed on the Australian Curriculum website, or downloaded as PDFs: click here for Foundation to Year 6 and click here for Years 7-10.