Remote schools win STEM awards
TWO of WA’S most remote public schools have won honours at the 2017 National Indigenous STEM Awards.
Run by CSIRO and the BHP Billiton Foundation, the awards recognise the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM students, as well as the role schools and teachers play in supporting Indigenous students to pursue STEM education and careers.
Wiluna Remote Community School, on the edge of the Western Desert region of WA, won an award for working with local Martu Rangers and the community to use traditional knowledge for teaching science.
Teachers apply an inquiry-based learning approach to meet the learning, cultural and engagement strengths of their mostly Martu students and each term, there are weekly two-way science focused walks, bush trips and camps.
The school has partnered with a range of key stakeholders in the area and also offers Certificate I and II in Conservation and Land Management and Automotive for upper secondary students and Martu Rangers.
The school will receive $10,000 to contribute towards progressing inquiry-based learning within the school and incorporating local Indigenous knowledge that can be linked to the curriculum.
Leonora District High School in the Goldfields-esperance region took out two awards; teacher Fifi Harris won the STEM Champion
Award and student Boyden George took out
Student Science Award.
Ms Harris, an Aboriginal and Islander education officer, received the award for her work in encouraging Indigenous students to get involved in STEM.
She also runs the school’s Department for Biodiversity, Conservations and Attractions Bushranger program, which provides environmental activities that connect students to the land.
Ms Harris provides leadership at the school to integrate student’s local language and culture alongside Western science into school plans, teaching practice and regular community events.
Student Boyden George won his award after he went to great lengths to photograph and submit a spider for verification by the Questagame biodiversity program, where it was confirmed as an undescribed species.
CSIRO Indigenous STEM Education Project Director Therese Postma said it was important to celebrate the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in STEM as well as teachers and schools working in this space.
“All of our award winners inspire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students,” Ms Postma said.
“Educators like Fifi Harris demonstrate on a daily basis how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students can be effectively engaged in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.”
“Wiluna Remote Community School is an outstanding example of an entire community coming together to teach students two-way science in Indigenous contexts.”
Wiluna remote community school.
Student Science Award winner Boyden George.
Aboriginal and Islander education officer Fifi Harris.