• The Indigenous science camp on location at The Dish. (NSW Department of Education)
Around 130 Indigenous students from across rural and remote NSW will be inspired to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) when they gather in Dubbo for a three-day camp this week.
By
Luke Briscoe

19 Oct 2015 - 1:05 PM  UPDATED 21 Oct 2015 - 10:04 AM

The STEM Youth Development Camp, which runs from Monday 19 to Wednesday 21 October, focuses on motivating students to take a closer look at the burgeoning opportunities that the STEM areas offer students and the nation.

The camp, drawing students from 11 remotes schools, is a joint initiative between the Connected Communities Directorate and schools, the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group (NSW AECG) and the newly-formed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance (ATSIMA).

"Introducing young people to the potential for science as an area of study and future work opportunities is important first step for many young regionally based community members." said Matt Poll, Curator Indigenous Heritage and Repatriation Project from the Macleay Museum at Sydney University, who was involved in organising the project.

Marcus Hughes, a program producer at the Museum of Applied Arts and Science, also said it is important to ensure a holistic approach on Indigenous perspectives in science and technology. 

"Introducing young people to the potential for science as an area of study and future work opportunities is important first step for many young regionally based community members."

"The more investigation, documentation and exploration of Indigenous applications within the STEM areas that can be undertaken – especially with programs like the one that is happening in Dubbo – the greater respect and validation for Indigenous knowledge will be – both inside and outside of our communities," said Mr Hughes.

Dr Chris Matthews, a lecturer at Griffith University School of Environment and Chair of the ATSIMA, has been instrumental in developing the STEM activities over the three days. 

“The camp also complements the AECG’s vision to develop leadership skills and the newly-formed ATSIMA can act as a ‘change agent’ by encouraging students to believe they can be successful mathematicians,” Dr Matthews said.


 

Camp activities will focus on exploring STEM fields including:

  • the mathematics of fire
  • astronomy
  • maths and community research
  • robotics

A highlight of the camp will be a visit to the famous “The Dish” CSIRO radio telescope observatory at Parkes.

 


 

Dr Matthews will address students along with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mathematicians and an Aboriginal Civil Engineering professional, senior Connected Communities staff, representatives of AECG and local Aboriginal Elders at the camp.

Connected Communities executive director, Michele Hall, said the camp demonstrates the diverse ways schools are seeking to foster generational change through better outcomes for students and giving students access to pathways for careers and further learning.

“Through hands-on activities, engaging with industry and meeting and mixing with role models we want to inspire these students and give them the confidence to seek a STEM future,” Ms Hall said.

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The NSW AECG was also involved in organising the logistics of the camp.

“We believe in giving kids every opportunity and our commitment is to advocate for and foster better educational outcomes and life opportunities for Aboriginal students,” AECG State President Ms Cindy Berwick said.

“Supporting students to participate in workshops like this, which is based around a culturally inclusive framework, gives them a strong sense of identity while engaging in the broader curriculum area."