THE ‘old ways’ of Aboriginal science met the ‘new ways’ of contemporary scientific knowledge at Merriwa Primary School.
The team from ECU’s community outreach program Old Ways New Ways visited the school on June 15 to deliver workshops to students from kindergarten to Year 6.
The activities were linked to this year’s Naidoc Week theme of ‘Our Languages Matter’ and aimed to encourage and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to study science at secondary and tertiary levels.
These included traditional hunting methods, Aboriginal dance, bush tucker preparation, charcoal drawings, language lessons, Nyungar games, storytelling and body painting.
Principal Sue Waterhouse said the students learnt an appreciation of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and it allowed the school’s senior Nyungar students to be leaders for the day.
“It was an opportunity for our Aboriginal students to shine in a leadership role, in science and in sharing their culture with their peers,” she said.
The Old Ways New Ways team has been working with Merriwa Primary School for about four years.
Ms Waterhouse said the partnership with ECU was “invaluable”, with students able to access modern and traditional Aboriginal forensic science, astronomy and visit the university’s science facilities.
“The aim is not only to strengthen the scientific skills of our students, but to present them with another pathway they may choose to pursue at the completion of high school,” she said.
“The feedback from feeder high schools is that as our students move on to high school, it is clear they are both skilled in and enthusiastic about science.
“Several students are already indicating they wish to study science at university when they leave school.”
Since the school’s involvement with the Old Ways New Ways program, it has a dedicated science teacher and program.
The school has 479 students, of which about 13 per cent are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
Naidoc Week runs until July 9.