Indigenous Science Network Bulletin

August 2000

Editor: Michael Michie

31st Annual Conference of the Australasian Science Education Research Association

Fremantle WA, 29 June -1 July 2000

 Not even the threat of the new GST could prevent 110 science educators meeting in Fremantle to discuss a wide range of science education research issues in a very convivial atmosphere. The following is an outline of some of the presentations which might be of interest to members of the network.

Ways that university science teachers can help improve science teaching in schools: A case study of Papua New Guinea,  Andrew Baimba and Kofi Agyeman, University of Goroka/University of Papua New Guinea

From 'border crossings' to 'science as a way of being': A response to the issues raised by incorporating traditional Aboriginal perspectives in school science education, Beverley Jane and David Blades, Deakin University/University of Alberta

Teaching for social justice in science classes, Leslie Jones, University of Northern Iowa

Providing teacher support materials for curriculum developments incorporating intercultural understandings in teaching science, Michael Michie and Mark Linkson, Consultant, Darwin/Queensland Department of Education

Encountering new worlds: Cultural border crossing as a referent for understanding the experiences of beginning primary science students, Judith Mulholland and John Wallace, Australian Catholic University/Curtin University of Technology

Traditional science beliefs among secondary school students in Papua New Guinea, Soikava Pauka, David Treagust and Bruce Waldrip, Curtin University/Curtin University/La Trobe University Bendigo

New roles for learning science in urban high schools, Ken Tobin, University of Pennsylvania

49th Conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association (CONASTA 49)

Perth, July 2000.

The Kormilda Science Project - an Indigenous perspective on the earth sciences, Theo Read and Daryl Rose, Parkdale Secondary College/Gunditjmara Community

Minimising the evolution/creationism controversy in the biology classroom, Leslie Jones, University of Northern Iowa

Recent papers

 Mulholland, J., & Wallace, J. (2000). Beginning primary science teaching: Entryways to different worlds. Research in Science Education, 30(2), 155-171. (See also paper above, presented at ASERA Conference)

 Peter Ninnes (University of New England) sent a copy of his recently published paper:

Ninnes, P. (2000). Representation of indigenous knowledges in secondary school science textbooks in Australia and Canada. International Journal of Science Education, 22(6), 603-617.

Indigenous Australian WWW Resource Directory

 This is a working document which attempts to maintain a register of all current WWW sites by, for or about Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people. To be eligible for inclusion a site must contain some meaningful cultural, social or political material, or act as an information or research resource. On this basis commercial sites simply engaged in the display of items for sale have not been included, but art galleries which incorporate changing displays of artists' works or include artists' biographies have.

 Sites are listed alphabetically as links in the format:

  • page/ site name (acronym),
  • organisation/ host name (acronym) without classification or comment.

 For a selective listing of sites with classification and comment the reader is referred to the excellent Aboriginal Studies WWW Virtual Library.

 To conserve space the abbreviation 'ATSI' has been used for 'Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander' as appropriate, but sites are ordered as though written in full. For most sites only the home page has been listed. However, for some major sites which host a number of significant resources, each has been listed separately. Personal home pages have been listed by the person's first name.

 Comments, suggestions, revisions, corrections and additions for the Directory are keenly sought, and should be submitted by email.

 The Indigenous Australian WWW Resource Directory is provided under the auspices of the KooriNet Project by the Koori Centre at the University of Sydney.

Aboriginal Studies WWW Virtual Library: The Internet Guide to Aboriginal Studies

 Edited by Dr T. Matthew Ciolek

 This online research tool is regularly updated. The page is optimised for transmission speed, not fancy looks. Currently this page provides WWW links to 135 specialist information facilities. All links are inspected and evaluated before being added to this Virtual Library.

 Please email with corrections, additions and updates to this site.

 This site is maintained in conjunction with the Center For World Indigenous Studies' (CWIS) Indigenous Studies WWW Virtual Library -- which contains links to General Indigenous Studies Resources, as well as resources Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Central & South America, Europe, and the Pacific. See also the excellent Circumpolar Peoples WWW Virtual Library maintained by Dr Eberhard Wenzel, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia.


Soul man: an interview with Satish Kumar

This item was brought to my attention by Mark Linkson.

In the interview with Kumar in the New Scientist (17 June 2000), he makes some comments about the nature of science, particularly about what we would call scientism, about holistic science and the links between science and business. He also protrays science as being only one way of knowing.

It was this last point that Giovanni Carsaniga took exception to, and in a following letter he makes his feelings known.

This has caused a cascade effect and there have been further letters which would be of interest to readers of this Bulletin.

Upcoming conferences

 The 1st Changchun Conference on the Trend of Environmental Education and the Development of Environmental Science towards the 21st Century. 5-10 August 2000.

 Information Technologies in Educational Innovation for Development: Interfacing Global and Indigenous Knowledge. 6th UNESCO-ACEID International Conference on Education, 12-15 December 2000, Bangkok, Thailand.

 The Future Is Here - a conference for Environmental Education. Australian Association for Environmental Education, the Marine Education Society of Australasia and the Victorian Association for Environmental Education. 15-19 January 2001, Melbourne Australia.

 50th Conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association (CONASTA 50). 8-13 July 2001, Sydney, Australia.

 32nd Annual Conference of the Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA). 13-15 July 2001. Sydney, Australia.

The Glen Lean Ethnomathematics Centre, University of Goroko, Papua New Guinea

 This item from Kay Owens, University of Western Sydney Macarthur, was forwarded to the network early in June.

 The Glen Lean Ethnomathematics Centre

 This Centre has been established by the University of Goroka to preserve and research the ethnomathematics, primarily of Papua New Guinea and Oceania. It will also carry out research into the use of ethnomathematics in mathematics education.

 The Centre was initially established by the receipt and cataloguing of all the data in articles collected and analysed by Dr. Glendon Tolele Angove Lean who was a lecturer at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology, Lae for 22 years. During this time, and for 10 years after leaving PNG, he collected data on the counting systems of the Papua New Guinea and Oceania people. After leaving PNG, Glen lectured at Deakin University in Geelong. He was awarded his doctorate by the PNG University of Technology, and passed away in early 1995. For those of you who knew Glen personally, I feel this Centre is a real tribute to him and to those who have shared their counting systems with researchers and others over the past 150 years. Glen collected first contact data in Dutch, British, German and Australian records and journals.

 Using extensive language data from other researchers, the Summer Institute of Linguistics, early contact records, his own field notes, and thousands of questionnaires completed by students from the University of Technology, teachers and students in national high schools, he was able to develop a comprehensive survey and analysis of the counting systems. He critiqued theories on the spread of number systems from the Middle East and proposed his own thesis on the development and spread of counting systems in the world, especially in Oceania.

 Glendon analysed nearly 900 of the 1200 counting systems in Papua New Guinea and Oceania. The volumes of data on each system for PNG have been available in hard copy since the early 1990s and can be found in libraries of the universities, teachers colleges, and national high schools. He later added the Oceania data as a further appendix to his thesis. A hard copy of his thesis (printed from his disks) is available in the Centre as well as the PNG University of Technology, and I assume Deakin and Monash libraries. In addition, the Centre holds all the photocopies of the early records and later papers on the counting system that he had meticulously collected and used. These are all catalogued as the Collected Papers of Glen Lean.

 The Centre is currently building up its collection of papers on ethnomathematics. It has several books on traditional practices. It also has general papers on ethnomathematics and specific papers related to other cultures. More importantly, it has a number of lecturers currently working in the area of ethnomathematics and is attracting international visitors and email communications.

 This is a working centre continuing to collect information from elders, researchers, and students and all contributions are welcome. New data will continue to be stored and accessed. This data will be used to enrich the school curriculum and teaching.

 There is no doubt that this is a unique centre of value not only to Papua New Guinea but the rest of the world. People preparing materials for Papua New Guinea elementary schools have used the mathematics information specific to their language. Primary and secondary school teachers can use the database and collected materials to assist with their teaching.

 However, much more can be done to collect data on traditional mathematics practices and current practices. The development of the links to teaching is only just beginning. Research and theory will gradually be established, and play a voice in the presentation of ethnomathematics at an international level.

 Where possible, information is being stored electronically with the intention of making data available on the web to schools, education officers, and the rest of the world.

 Your Involvement

 You may wish to send articles that you have written on ethnomathematics to the Centre (they already have quite a few from some of you).

 You may wish to visit and carry out some research with the students or staff. You can send your ideas by fax or by email to Dr Wilfred Kaleva, I am happy to discuss your proposals first. I can assure you that Goroka has a lovely climate as it is situated in the highlands away from the tropical coastal steam. There are several kinds of accommodation available. We could play sport, swim, and drink cappuccinos. There are gyms and running tracks. We felt safe and enjoyed our friendly neighbours and those we met on the street or on the bus.

 The staff is keen for me to set up an email list of interested people so that they can keep in touch and be ready with contacts when their email comes on line.

 If you would like to be a Friend of the Ethnomathematics Centre, then please let me know.

 If you can find a way of financially supporting them, I am sure they would appreciate that too. This is a new university in a developing country. Nevertheless, they put aside funds for computer, scanner, printer, and a parttimer to complete the data entry for the database of counting systems which was started recently. To date, they have entered 80 out of the 900 counting systems. Previously copies of Glen's PNG appendices were available from the PNG University of Technology. However, a fire burnt down its mathematics and computer science department destroying all copies (not to mention all the computers and staff programs and books - a huge intellectual loss for them too).

 PNG with its 800 languages and cultures is very rich. My dream is to think that the school students feel as proud of their traditional maths as they are of their traditional dances and designs and kinship relationships.

 The Head of Mathematics and Computing Department is Dr Wilfred Kaleva who has a doctorate in ethnomathematics. The director of the centre is Rex Matang who also lectures in mathematics. They can be contacted by

 The Glen Lean Ethnomathematics Centre,

University of Goroka,

PO Box 1078,

Goroka, EHP 441

Papua New Guinea

 The fax number is (675) 732 2620. Phone is (675) 731-1200

Emails will be printed out and carried from the library to them at until they get their own direct line soon.

Since then, I had this message from Rex Matang.

 Dear Michael,

Thank you for showing your interest in this newly established research centre, The Glen Lean Ethnomathematics Centre (GLEC), and it is encouraging to hear from you. We have just started the Centre thus our immediate activity of engagement is the data entry (of all the counting systems in PNG and Oceania which adds up to about 800!) including the cataloguing of all other collections of ethnomathematics related material into the GLEC database. It's a small beginning but, our aim is to make it into a centre which has collections of, not only the counting systems of PNG and Oceania, but also of other mathematical practices in socio-cultural context, i.e. measurement, design, locating, etc, and collections of a host of other research materials, papers, reports and articles relating to all aspects of ethnomathematics both from Papua New Guinea (PNG) and abroad.

One of the things that we anticipate to do between now and next year is to draw up a research agenda (i.e. possible research topics) for possible collaborative research projects between overseas and PNG-based researchers. This University is predominantly a teacher education institute so one of our obvious concerns is to utilise the centre resources to determine how best to include mathematics from socio-cultural context in the school curriculum and its implications in terms of teaching approaches, student learning, etc. We are also hoping that the collected materials will be made available to the practising teachers for both teaching and research purposes. We are in the negotiation process for an e-mail line for the GLEC and an online website soon after that in our anticipation to enable the external GLEC clients to access the available data. In the mean time, we will keep you informed of any new development via the above e-mail address. If you are to send any correspondences by post please send them to me using this address:

Glen Lean Ethnomathematics Centre,

University of Goroka,

PO Box1078,

GOROKA, EHP, Papua New Guinea or through the Fax No. (675) 732 2620.

Thank you


A more recent update has come from Kay Owens (3 August)

This centre now has direct email contact at

The university is employing a research assistant to continue to enter data into the database of counting systems.

Rex and Wilfred are looking into appropriate research studies for masters level students as well as undergraduate projects in order to extend the knowledge-base of ethnomathematics in PNG.

Several friends have supplied data from their research studies undertaken in past years and we would like to thank Gillian Boulton-Lewis in particular for her contribution.

If anyone is in touch with Prof. Zepp, please let him know of the centre and the continued interest at UOG, his time there is still inspiring the staff.

The Maths Advisory Committee for secondary schools has shown an increased interest in ethnomathematics.

Last updated: 3 August 2000

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