Science across cultures
REDFERN: National Science Week concluded at Redfern Community Centre with the annual Indigenous Science Experience. The event celebrates Indigenous cultural knowledge and shows young people the exciting possibilities of a career in the sciences. It’s the sixth year that the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) has run the “family fun day” and it attracted people of all ages.
The day offered a mix of Indigenous and Western sciences, with activities as diverse as 3D printing, bush food, “neural knitting” and a liquid nitrogen demonstration. It began with a performance by junior members of Redfern Dance Company. There were then speeches from David Hurley, Governor of NSW, and Federal MP Tanya Plibersek. Ms Plibersek has regularly attended. She says she looks forward to it more each time: “My kids really enjoy it, and it gives us a taste of the rich culture our country has.”
As well as showcasing Indigenous scientific knowledge, the event allowed student volunteers to demonstrate the skills they’ve gained as part of the NISEP, which was founded in 2004 by Associate Professor Joanne Jamie and is run in partnership with Macquarie University. It aims to offer young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the opportunity to become leaders within their school communities and encourages them to consider higher education. Several current and ex-participants were present on the day.
One of them, William, has just begun a Bachelor of Science with a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie. “I started with this program when I was in high school and I’m still here,” he grinned. “It’s so important to get kids interested in science from a young age.”
Ms Jamie was very pleased with the event: “Today allows us to show the wider public the wonderful knowledge of the Aboriginal elders and our students … There’s a lot of effort involved but there’s so much reward when you work with the community.”
NISEP ran the event with the assistance of Macquarie University, the City of Sydney and Inspiring Australia. You can see more about the program at http://nisep.com.au/.