CSIRO’s Indigenous STEM Education Project has been awarded the prestigious Australian Museum Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion. The Eureka Prizes – the ‘Oscars’ of Australian Science – honour science excellence across the areas of research and innovation, leadership, science engagement, and school science.
The Indigenous STEM Education Project (ISEP) is funded by BHP Foundation and delivered by CSIRO Education and Outreach. The Project aims to increase participation of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The project is made up of four complementary programs that seek to build a pipeline of STEM capability and aspiration from primary school through to high school to prepare students for further studies and STEM careers—Science Pathways for Indigenous Communities, Inquiry for Indigenous Science Students (I²S²), the Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS) and the Indigenous STEM Awards.
The project extends to every state and territory in Australia, servicing the unique needs and learning environments of metropolitan, regional and remote schools. Since the project commenced in 2015, more than 13,500 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students have been engaged.
Acting Director of CSIRO Education and Outreach, Susan Burchill explains, “The project fosters a deep respect for the Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander ways and knowledge which underpin its values and practice. Learning resources developed within each program are linked to the Australian Curriculum and the cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures.”
Max Lenoy, Executive Manager of the Indigenous STEM Education Project continues, “Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples are Australia’s first scientists, with more than 65,000 years of ecological knowledge and experience.”
“It is our honour to continue this practice through the Indigenous STEM Education Project, forging new education and career pathways for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students.”
Integrating Indigenous scientific knowledge into the Australian Curriculum, a Two-way Science approach, reaches beyond the walls of the classroom with students undertaking curriculum linked activities before and after learning on Country.
“Two-way Science promotes Indigenous leadership in education, and fosters partnerships between schools, communities, Indigenous ranger programs and scientists. Two-way Science is a hallmark of the CSIRO’s Indigenous STEM Education Project bringing together this collective wisdom,” said Max.
Dr Cathy Foley, Chief Scientist at CSIRO, offered her congratulations.
“It is wonderful to see projects like this recognised and honoured for the fantastic work they do,” Dr Foley said.
“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have always been STEM leaders and it is important that we recognise this knowledge in order to impact the industries, jobs and science leaders of the future.”
CSIRO’s Indigenous Northern Australia Environmental Research Portal was also a finalist in the same category.
CSIRO also congratulates Professor Robert F. Park, University of Sydney, winner of the CSIRO Eureka Prize for Leadership.
For nearly two decades, Professor Robert F. Park has led world-class efforts to develop cereal varieties with inbuilt genetic disease resistance. He is one of the few plant pathologists who has successfully translated their biological discoveries to the real world, his research having a sustained global impact on the economic viability of cereal production and food security.