Indigenous stories in National Science Week: astronomy, hacking, and a health lab on wheels

Media bulletins, National Science Week

With more than 2000 planned events around Australia, National Science Week, 10 to 18 August, offers multiple story opportunities. Here are a few ideas for Indigenous rounds.

NSW: INDIGI HACK 2019 — Redfern

Can young people’s love of gadgets and technology help save Indigenous language?

Australia is home to some of the oldest languages in the world, and we are at risk of losing them all if we don’t act fast. As many as half of the world’s 7000 languages are expected to be extinct by the end of this century; it is estimated that one language dies out every 14 days.

This initiative helps Indigenous young people bridge science, technology and culture to develop an app that helps capture, revitalise and retain Indigenous language.

INDIGI HACK is a two-day hackathon involving more than 100 Indigenous youth from remote Australia and New Zealand, 20 teachers and community members, and more than 14 industry mentors. The winning hacker gains entry to an incubator to further develop and refine a product and their skills.

Thursday 8 to Friday 9 August Event details

Media contact: Luke Briscoe, info@indigilab.com.au or 0407 773 259

Talent available for interviews:

  • Luke Briscoe, INDIGI HACK Director and INDIGI LAB CEO.
  • Rae Johnston and Matt Webb, INDIGI HACK Hosts.
  • INDIGI HACK Judges, Prof Peter Radoll (Canberra University), Renee Cawthorne (Australia Museum), Brett Leavy (Bilby Labs) and Maddy de Young (M.A.T.C.H New Zealand).
  • INDIGI HACK award prize winners.

NSW: Indigenous Science Experience – Redfern

What can Aboriginal astronomy tell us about the night sky? How is native flora used in bush medicine and soap-making? How do Indigenous Australians make axes and other artefacts from stone? What can we learn about sustainable living from more than 60 000 years of Indigenous culture?

The Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern is a celebration of Indigenous and Western science, and Indigenous youth and Elder achievements. A four-day event at the Redfern Community Centre, it will demonstrate the value of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge in science and technology, and the relevance of science to everyday lives. Indigenous students from National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) partner schools will assist in demonstrating activities.

Redfern schools sessions Wednesday 14 to Friday 16 August Event details

Family Science Fun Day: Sunday 18 August Event details

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

NSW: Indigenous Navigation by the Stars Harbour Cruise — Sydney

Enjoy a three-hour stargazing experience on Sydney Harbour aboard Tribal Warrior’s Mari Nawi (Big Canoe), while the ship’s Aboriginal crew shares stories and skills based on traditional knowledge of navigation by the stars.

Passed down through generations, navigation by the stars is one aspect of an intrinsic connection to land, seas and skies, based on deep knowledge of stars, ocean, winds and tides. Participants will learn how stars are used to mark their position and safely navigate.

Saturday 17 August Event details

Event contact: Peter Tattersall, info@sea.museum or 02 9298 3777

NT: HealthLAB: Science on Wheels – Darwin & North East Arnhem Land

A health education clinic on wheels will travel to locations around Darwin, and to the remote Milingimbi community in North East Arnhem Land to work with trainee Aboriginal health practitioners on country.

What does the world look like through ‘beer goggles’ when you’re stone cold sober? How good is your health? And how do your lifestyle choices affect the health of your body?

HealthLAB is a health education clinic on wheels where visitors can see ultrasounds of their heart and kidneys, hear their heart beating, see how the heart changes after exercise, and try on special headsets that mimic raised blood alcohol levels.

Interactive displays and demonstrations will cover topics of preconception health, nutrition, the amount of sugar in soft drinks, poisons in cigarettes and other health topics.

Participants assess their own health in a pop-up laboratory, learn about healthy lifestyle choices, and find out about careers in health science-related fields.

Milingimbi: Tuesday 13 August Event details

Parliament House (Darwin): Thursday 15 August Event details

Charles Darwin University (Casuarina): Sunday 18 August Event details

Media contact: Paul Dale, paul.dale@menzies.edu.au, Communications@menzies.edu.au, 08 8946 8658 or 0439 108 754

VIC: Aboriginal Astronomy — Ballarat

Astrophysics student and Kamilaroi woman Krystal De Napoli shares how Indigenous Australians encode scientific information in their traditions and how this knowledge is passed to successive generations.

The event will feature videos of dances, songs and interviews with Elders.

Friday 16 August Event details

Event enquiries: Lesley Morgan, lesleymorgan@ballarat.vic.gov.au or 03 5338 6810

WA: Moonboorli (Beyond): Integrating Noongar culture in science – State Library, Northbridge

Indigenous culture goes hand in hand with science, technology, engineering, art and maths. In this workshop, Kobi Morrison will share knowledge on how people can incorporate elements of Noongar culture into their own methods of work. This includes learning about languages and ways of appropriately acknowledging and collaborating in ways that are relevant, engaging and inclusive for all cultures in Australia.

Saturday 10 August Event details

Media and event enquiries: Jamie McGleave, jamie@propel.org.au or 08 9328 5855

VIC: What Indigenous storytelling can teach us about memory, our highways and ourselves – Melbourne

For more than 65,000 years, the night sky has served as a map for Indigenous peoples all around the world. Aboriginal Australians plotted the absence and presence of stars to develop celestial maps for navigation to survive the harsh Australian landscape. In doing so, Aboriginal Australians built complex knowledge systems using signals from the sky and the landscape to recall and pass on significant knowledge, cultural values and wisdom.

Cultures around the world have long grouped stars into familiar patterns. Curiously, many of these constellations are perceived in strikingly similar ways, despite the cultures being geographically and temporally separated. Could this have something to do with psychological pattern recognition? And can we use the same method to encode our own memories in the modern world?

Wednesday 14 August Event details

Psychology and perception expert Simon Cropper is available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Holly Bennett, holly.bennett@unimelb.edu.au or 0466 514 367

About National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals, first held in 1997. Last year about 1.2 million people participated in more than 2100 events.

This year will feature parties, music and comedy shows, panel discussions, citizen science opportunities, interactive displays, film nights, open days and online activities.

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government; partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC; and media sponsors including Cosmos, New Scientist and Science Illustrated. More information: www.scienceweek.net.au.

Search for events in your area: scienceweek.net.au/events/. More highlights here. Images for media here.

If you’d like to follow up on any of these stories or hear about others that are relevant to your round, get in touch. To receive story alerts in the lead up to and during National Science Week, register here or email tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au.  

General media enquiries:

Tanya Ha – tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or call 0404 083 863

Niall Byrne – niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or call 0417 131 977 or 03 9398 1416.