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Indigenous, Science

Culture and the cosmos; learning on Country; elemental energies; and a health lab on wheels

National Science Week 5 mins read
Indigenous science

Great National Science Week INDIGENOUS SCIENCE stories up for grabs now around Australia

  • The culture of the cosmos: Country and Sky with a space archaeologist and an Indigenous astrophysicist.
  • Indigenous science, song-lines and stars at the planetarium in Wollongong.
  • The night sky, bush food, and technology at Redfern’s Indigenous Science Experience.
  • Payirri-Apinthirlu Naalityangka: the First Nations Science Festival – Adelaide.
  • A health lab on wheels and AI ‘time machine’ shows impact of disease.
  • Limurr dharr djiwarr: learning on Country.
  • Earth, air, water and fire: Noongar knowledge and elemental energies.

More on these below and visit ScienceWeek.net.au/events to find more stories in your area.

Scientists, experts, performers and event organisers are available for interview throughout National Science Week.

Direct contact details for each event are below or contact Tanya Ha on tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0404 083 863.

Media centre here. Images for media here.

Individual event details and media contacts

Country and Sky with a space archaeologist and an Indigenous astrophysicist – Ultimo, NSW

Australian space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman and Gamilaraay astrophysicist Karlie Noon discuss new frontiers of science. From space junk and preservation to the connection between astronomy and cultural heritage and the future of Australians in space. Together they unravel the festival theme trace through the galactic lens.

Karlie Noon is a Gamilaraay astrophysicist and mathematician with over a decade of experience in science communication and Indigenous heritage. She is also co-author of the award-winning book First Knowledges – Sky Country.

Dr Alice Gorman is a leader in the field of space archaeology and author of the award-winning book Dr Space Junk vs the Universe: Archaeology and the Future. She is an Associate Professor at Flinders University in Adelaide and a heritage consultant with over 25 years’ experience.

Monday 14 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/country-and-sky/ultimo

Media enquiries: Siân Davies, sian@articulatepr.com.au, 0402 728 462; or Sasha Haughan, sasha@articulatepr.com.au, 0405 006 035.

Indigenous science, song-lines and stars – Wollongong, NSW

Step into the planetarium at the University of Wollongong and discover how Indigenous knowledge and science can help future-proof Australia’s biodiversity and ancient heritage.

Learn about the Whale Songlines that connect First Nations along the East Coast of Australia – with Dr Jodi Edwards, a proud Dharawal Custodian.

Hear how the Seven Sisters star cluster influences Indigenous Songlines, oral traditions and resources calendar – with Dr Robert Fuller, Adjunct Fellow at the School of Science, Western Sydney University and member of Australian Indigenous Astronomy.

Wednesday 16 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/science-showcase-uow-live-abc-illawarra-radio-broadcast-from-uow-wollongong-campus/wollongong

Media enquiries: Theresa Larkin, tlarkin@uow.edu.au, 0406 572 148; Stuart Creal Director of the UOW Science Space, screal@uow.edu.au, 02 4286 5000.

The Indigenous night sky, bush food, and technology – Redfern, NSW

What can Aboriginal astronomy tell us about the night sky? How are native flora used in bush medicine and soap making? How do Indigenous Australians make axes from stone and other artefacts? What can deadly science tell us about seaweed, birdlife, engineering, textiles, and more? What can 60 000+ years of Indigenous culture tell us about sustainable living?

The Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern is a celebration of Indigenous and Western science, and the achivements of Indigenous youth and Elders. This annual event demonstrates the value of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge in science and technology. Indigenous students assist in demonstrating activities.

Saturday 19 August. www.scienceweek.net.au/event/indigenous-science-experience-at-redfern-3/redfern

Media enquiries: Joanne Jamie, joanne.jamie@mq.edu.au, 0439 170 683 or 02 9850 8283.            

Indigenous student leaders and event organiser Joanne Jamie (non-Indigenous) are available for media interviews. View video from 2022 event.

Payirri-Apinthirlu Naalityangka: the First Nations Science Festival – Adelaide, SA

Explore Indigenous science through a series of events held in the heart of Adelaide.

Night Lab: In Our Element: Explore the four natural elements - Earth, Air, Fire and Water – in a night at the museum delving into the science and cultural significance these have for Aboriginal and other First Nations groups. Friday 18 August.

Native Plants on Earth and Beyond: Find out what the Australia’s First Scientists and Astronomers can teach us about growing plants on Earth and in space, at the Australian Space Discovery Centre. Saturday 19 August.

Ngarrindjeri Weaving Workshop: Learn about traditional textiles and technology through weaving with Aunty Ellen Trevorrow with support from Dr Janina Haines. Sunday 20 August.

Media enquiries: Alison Kershaw, Alison.Kershaw@samuseum.sa.gov.au or 0417 046 600.

A health lab on wheels and AI ‘time machine’ shows impact of disease – Darwin, Daly River, and Tiwi Islands, NT

Chronic diseases – such as diabetes and heart disease – cause suffering for thousands of Australians.

The Menzies HealthLAB – a clinic on wheels – lets people see heart and kidney ultrasounds, hear their heart beating, and try on ‘alcohol goggles’ that mimic raised blood alcohol levels.

An award-winning interactive Time Machine app completes the picture – literally – by showing how those choices affect appearance.

HealthLAB will travel to locations around Darwin and to the remote communities of Naiuyu and Wurrumiyanga, giving locals the opportunity to talk to a range of scientists and health professionals about the science behind the inner workings of the human body, the technology behind the equipment we use, and future careers in science.

Multiple dates and locations.

Media enquiries: HealthLAB, healthlab@menzies.edu.au or 08 8946 8541.

Limurr dharr djiwarr: learning on Country– Galiwin'ku, NT

Learn from Traditional Owners about specific innovations that allowed Yolŋu people to thrive for millenia, and new technologies that will take us into the future.

First Nations people are Australia’s first scientists and engineers. Limurr dharr djiwarr will give students the opportunity to hear stories from Traditional Owners and knowledge holders about the innovations of Yolŋu people in North East Arnhem Land from pre-colonisation to settlement. And local Rangers will teach students about how emerging technologies support their work.

Students will recreate fire torches to transport embers and construct hunting spears and fish traps. These activities will then be contrasted by visits to the local solar and diesel power stations, supported by Power & Water staff, with students engaging in the construction of solar powered devices.

The local Rangers will host tours of their facilities to teach students about how emerging technologies support the work they are doing to conserve and manage their Country, including drones, GPS, side-by-side vehicles and biosecurity apps.

Monday 14 August - Friday 18 August. Event details: https://www.scienceweek.net.au/event/limurr-dharr-djiwarr/galiwin-ku

Media enquiries: Isaac Jansens, Shepherdson College, isaac.jansens@education.nt.gov.au or 0474 860 765.

Earth, air, water and fire: Noongar knowledge and elemental energies– Hopetoun

Noongar Bush Educator – Belinda Swift, an on-country excursion will go to the Fitzgerald Biosphere and share how and why Aboriginal people used the energy of the earth, bush and fire to survive, find foods and make camp.

She will talk about how humans harness the four elements of nature – Earth, Air, Water and Fire – to produce useful energy. As well as the importance and cultural significance of the area.

People can also make a mini wind turbine or hydroelectric waterwheel in workshops at Hopetoun Community Resource Centre.

Earth: Friday 11 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/elemental-energies-air-element/hopetoun

Air: Monday 14 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/elemental-energies-fire-element/hopetoun

Water: Tuesday 15 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/elemental-energies-water-element-2/hopetoun

Fire: Wednesday 16 August: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/elemental-energies-water-element/hopetoun

Media enquiries: crc@hopetounwa.com or 08 9838 3062.

About National Science Week

National Science Week is Australia’s annual opportunity to meet scientists, discuss hot topics, do science and celebrate its cultural and economic impact on society – from art to astrophysics, chemistry to climate change, and forensics to future food.

First held in 1997, National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year about 1.9 million people participated in more than 1,650 events and activities. 

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government, CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association, and the ABC.

In 2023 it runs from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 August. Event details can be found at www.scienceweek.net.au.

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