Indigenous Perspectives in Science

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					Indigenous Perspectives in the Science Learning Area A Work in Progress
Karma Agostinetto and Sarah Mead
At Mount Carmel College we are investigating ways to incorporate Indigenous perspectives in our Science curricula. Our aim is to use Indigenous Science to illustrate key concepts. We realise these examples are not common place in a Science classroom. However, they are valuable Science and help teachers to include Indigenous perspectives as required by the SACSA framework. We hope that teachers will identify topic(s) that fit into their current Science course. Possible Science topics where an Indigenous perspective can be included are listed below. We have included the topics at the Year levels we teach and the name of the chapter from the text books we use (Quest 1-4) Year 8 (Quest 1)  Classification  Light and sound Year 9 (Quest 2)  The night sky  Materials and their use  The place where I live (Ecology)  Forces at work  Electricity (alternative forms of energy and possible consequences) Year 10 (Quest 3 and 4)  Life goes on (classification and evolution)  Dynamic Earth (land management)  On the move (forces)

Indigenous Perspectives in the Science Learning Area
Mapping where Indigenous perspectives could fit into the SACSA framework

Life Systems
Primary Years
2.5 Explores relationships between living things by posing investigable questions about features and functions

 Students conduct an activity exploring the concept of balance in an ecosystem eg Eco-balance (Activity 10) “Our Land our Future”  Classification : Living / Non living Ask students how are things classified? Groupings could include: similar features, habitat etc. Then ask students reasoning behind grouping. How would they group living things if living directly form the land?
Middle Years
3.5 Explains the interrelationships between systems within living things, and between living things in ecological systems. They relate these ideas to the health of individuals and to threats to the sustainability of ecological systems

Discuss the Indigenous use of flora and fauna:

 Classification (eg incorporate into Yr 10 Science unit on classification and evolution “Life goes on”, Quest 4) From initial research (Pitjantjatjara) edible/inedible (list attached) vs Binomial System of Nomenclature - Possible excursion to the Botanic Gardens to look at Indigenous trail of plants and for their uses (see below) eg Yakka – stem is used for fire. Sedges - weaving  Foods Discuss Indigenous foods used “Bush Tucker” Tim Lowe “Tiwi Plants and Animals” Indigenous knowledge of symbiotic relationships (eg lichens) and link to bush tucker industry (futures) Quandong industry (needs a host plant). Also eucalypts seeds rely on fire to germinate  The development of smoke water. Pose question to students: what could you do to these seeds if you wanted to commercially grow them? Obvious cross-link here to fire  Food chains (eg yr 9 Science Ecology) - Discuss relationship between vegetation and the climate and landforms (p2-5, “Punu – Yankunytjatjara plant use”)



Literacy/Science Task. There is an excellent children‟s book “Yellow Eye”, David Spillman and Mark Wilson. A possible task could be to look at the food chains involved and effect of human practices on the species in the food chain. A quote to give some perspective to the students: “A long, long time ago, after thousands of years in this land, the Aborigines of the numerous associated tribes were gradually learning to live in harmony, not only with each other, but with the animals, birds, and the entire environment.” Irene Watson

 Totems, motif – who can eat what? Does this effect species numbers, ie protect or threaten them.  Medicinal Investigate different plants used by Indigenous people for medicinal purposes. There could also be a cross-link to the chemical nature of the plant and synthetic medicines available. “Punu – Yankunytjatjara plant use” website: (use of insects) (Aboriginal bush food and bush medicine)
3.6 Identifies, analyses and communicates confidently the similarities and differences in the ways that living things reproduce, and considers the ethics of related issues


Indigenous knowledge of plant life cycles eg Bogon moths   Environmental management eg Coorong Research the introduced diseases that have effected Indigenous people (Light and Sound) and Aboriginal Health issues Eg Diabetes - ophthalmology – Ian Thorpe Foundation / Fred Hollows (international perspective

4.5 Investigates and explains the functioning of living systems from the microscopic to the macroscopic

4.6 Explores how living things have changed over geological time and debates the value of species diversity and the ethics of human intervention

Senior Years
5.5 Interprets and uses information about the structure and function of living systems and their relationship to survival of ecosystems

 Role of fire – natural regeneration, hunting Relate to 3.5 fire needed for certain seeds now required commercially for bush tucker industry “Mingkiri -A natural history of Uluru by the Mutitjulu community” see Chapter 5, burning off Barrumbi Kids Chapter on burning off / literacy interconnection.

Earth and Space
Primary Years
2.1 2.2 Explores the apparent motion of the sun in relation to the earth and develops models of their understanding

see the following web site pg 7. Activity about using a model to learn about seasonal changes in the path of the sun
Middle Years
3.1 Describes the characteristics that sustain life on earth and changes to these characteristics and their impact over time

 Year 9 Science Ecology “The place where you live” Quest 2 Students could look at various management techniques. In particular the following areas on local landforms could be addressed: 1. Water - management - water holes, river courses  resource management Excursion to Wetlands / Camp Coorong Eg channelling of South East Video: Management of Environment in the lands Websites: (take the challenge tour of the wetland!) 2. Mining – Year 10 Science “Dynamic Earth “ Quest 4 the MINING BOX “Our Land out Future” with various linking activities - maintenance of environment (Activity 12 “Land care”) - custodial relationship (Activity 13 “Traditional way”) - working relationship between land owners and mining companies (Activity 6 “Working Together”) - tension of land use
3.2 Describe various components of the solar system and the effects of these on our everyday lives

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Constellations see: from Questacon's book The Emu in the Sky a collection of Aboriginal astronomy stories from all around Australia. Navigation. Finding direction during the day and night: see pg 9, with student activities

4.1 identifies and investigates changes, both natural and human induced, on the earth and suggests ideas which encourage the preservation of the natural environment for all living things


See 3.1 for resources  Year 9 Science “The Night Sky” Quest 2 - Ask students how the night sky is examined by different people. A great starting point is a student survey which has an Indigenous perspective. It is found on page 6 of the following web site: - Students can research the link between traditional Indigenous people‟s knowledge, seasons and the changing night sky. Eg the seasons

 eg Ghan – impact – community land use put Ghan Land Management 4.2 Investigates and analyses astronomical features and changes as seen from the earth and debates the way that scientists examine and explain these

5.1 Researches and analyses contemporary theories about geological features, such as plate tectonics, and investigate their effects on sustaining life on earth


Students could analyse the implications of mining on Indigenous communities and on natural environments See previously listed MINING BOX and websites

Energy Systems

3.4 Uses the idea of force to describe and explain different ways of transferring energy and 4.4 Plans and evaluates investigations that focus on the transfer and transformations of energy

 Topic Year 9 “Forces at Work” Quest 2 or Year 10 Motion “On the Move” Quest 4 Flight: Students to investigate relationship between force and acceleration. Resource: Text “Boomerang” Phillip Jones and CD-Rom. This is a graphic flight simulator demonstrating Bernoli‟s principle Excellent information and possible excursion to SA museum. Also, on their website is information of the physics behind the boomerang: Also, on how they work, with interactive buttons: (10 Excellent getting stated quiz questions)

5.3 Analyses aspects of energy sustainability, including energy resources, energy production and distribution and challenges for future „worldwide‟ uses of energy The following ideas presented would relate to Electricity units (Yr 9/10) when discussing alternative energy sources and limitations with each. Nuclear waste – Maralinga, Roxby Downs - The following website outlines the expansion proposal for Roxby Downs including Aboriginal Heritage and Environmental Impact: - Maralinga: “Maralinga waste: Safe disposal method dumped” Nuclear waste Indigenous perspective: - Possible Task: Students present formal debate : Environmental activists vs Mining Companies (this would include a strong Indigenous component)

2.7 Designs an investigation to explore properties of common materials, explaining why they have particular uses

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Possible excursion to the SA museum to investigate different materials eg barks, fibres used by Indigenous people and the properties of each material that made it suitable for it‟s function Students could test a variable which changes a particular material used by Indigenous people eg Malaleca glomerataI (teatree, paperbark) this has many uses (see “Bushfires and Bushtucker” Peter Latz p226) such as used for fishing nets but breaks easily if in deep water with obstacles of rocks or trees.

2.8 Predict. Investigates and describes changes in common materials when acted upon in various ways

3.8 Describes the structure of some common materials, explains how materials are used for different purposes, and understand their impact on the environment

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Students could look at the physical properties used to identify minerals “Our Land our Future” Activity 2 “Properties of minerals”. Yakka sap is a thermo-plastic material (used when looking at plastic properties) Fibre production – sedge process, properties, strength testing - possible experiment : sinew from kangaroo tail (available from central market butcher) Canoe Construction    How to prepare foods to remove toxicity Pick and leave steeping

4.8 recognises and describes conditions that influence reactions or change in materials


Food preservation : Murray cod fish oil Ant Crushing segment of “Bush Medicine” video  Quandong farms – symbiotic relationships needs a host tree excellent information on the following website: Native Food industries – Bush Tucker

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