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Cultural Sky Stories

This project uses astronomy as the context for engaging low socioeconomic (SES) primary and secondary school students (Years 5-9) in STEM. Astronomy is part of the Earth and Space Sciences sub-strand of the Australian Curriculum, and an Australian flagship Super Science area. In addition, WA is the location for multiple radio-telescope systems in the Murchison Shire where the core of the Square Kilometre Array is currently being built.

WA school students and teachers learn how to control online telescopes in the USA to acquire data for in-class study, including how to process celestial images while learning about how objects move within the Solar System. In addition, local Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and other cultural cosmogonies are shared amongst students and their peers with cultural support from Aboriginal Education Officers and ECU’s Cultural Ambassador, Dr Noel Nannup.

Through investigation, primary and secondary students develop an understanding of connections between the sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics. Developing these literacies supports ongoing participation in STEM subjects throughout secondary school, improve students’ achievement in science and mathematics, and encourages students to aspire to study these courses in higher education. Additionally, linking science learning to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander cosmogonies develops cultural awareness and agency in low SES schools, including those with high ATSI populations.

Funding agency

Federal Higher Education Participation Partnership Program (HEPPP)
Edith Cowan Institute for Education Research
SkyTitan and the Binocular and Telescope Shop

Project duration

January 2015 - December 2016


Researchers

Professor David McKinnon
Dr Eileen Slater
Ms Nadia Chubko

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