Indigenous science in Redfern

An exciting celebration of achievements in Western and Indigenous Science, the Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern event provides a unique experience of science that highlights Aboriginal culture and traditions. This year Sydneysiders will again be welcomed to Redfern Community Centre during National Science Week in August to connect with Indigenous elders and scientists over a range of hands on activities.

Run by the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) team, and hosted by the Redfern Community Centre, this National Science Week initiative builds on the momentum drawn from three previous highly successful events. The 2015 program for the Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern will be run over four days and will bring back favourite activities from previous years as well as new additions.

Kicking off on 19 August, local primary school students will get hands-on for three days with a range of interactive workshops and presentations that have cultural and practical relevance. One of the highlights is the Chemistry for Kids show presented by Aboriginal high school students from rural and regional NSW who will lead the experiments and share the knowledge they have gained from their roles as demonstrators.

Students will move throughout the Community Centre to also experience an exhibition space that showcases Indigenous knowledge and other science activities such biology, physics and mathematics.

To mark the International Year of Light, UNSW’s Nura Gili Indigenous Astronomy Team will enrapture young and old with stargazing and storytelling on the evening of 19 August. There will be opportunities to look through telescopes to see stars up close and learn about the cultural significance of the night sky. An element of the storytelling will focus on the conservation of the knowledge Indigenous people have about the star systems and the consequences of light pollution on the ability to see the night sky in all its detail.

This year’s Family Science Festival presented on 22 August will be even bigger than the enormously successful 2014 science extravaganza. Running from 10am-4pm, visitors can enjoy local market stalls, a great selection of food vendors and more science than you can poke a stick insect at. Among workshops, presentations and attractions on offer will be creepy-crawly critters, cute and cuddly native animals and a chance to try your hand at boomerang throwing. Providing a fun and festive atmosphere, we welcome community members from all walks of life to participate in this unique celebration of Indigenous and Western Science.

During last year’s event, students learned about the value of traditional bush medicines from the Ngukurr people of southern Arnhem Land, practised centuries old methods of weaving used by the D’harawal people, saw a full range of traditional and modern items made by the Wake Up Time Weaving Group from Bundjalung country, were shown how to make weapons used by Noongar people on the west coast of Australia and spoke with Elders from Yaegl and Wiradjuri countries. There was also a chance to get hands-on with a 3D printer, mix up some magic chemicals, test your brain with some maths and physics conundrums, marvel at the behaviour of Australian birds and handle live native animals and insects.

We are excited about the opportunities 2015 will provide in bringing such knowledgeable people together again and hope many will join us for this fun, educational and collaborative experience once more!

Watch a video of last year’s Indigenous Science experience @ Redfern

About the authors
Joanne Jamie, Erin Rozgonyi and Asha Voorendt lead the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) team. Find out more on Facebook.