December 2009
(Volume 12, Number 6)
ISSN  1449-2091

Michael Michie

Tiwi designs by Jennifer Coombs
Munupi Arts & Crafts Association,
Pirlangimpi, Melville Island, NT

Indigenous Science Links






Introduction to the Special Issue on Indigenous Science "Education From Place: Best Practices on Turtle Island"

Long ago, our grandfathers used to talk about a great winter that would envelop our people. They said there would be a time when our cultural life ways would be put to sleep and covered with a blanket  of snow. They said underneath the blanket of snow and deep within the earth would be the seeds that would one day come into being. They predicted there would be a springtime when everything would be reawakened on Turtle Island. They said we are like the red willow that grows on the northern tundra. Our cultural roots as Indigenous people cling tightly against the barest of rock and earth. Yet we are strong and proud. The branches of the red willow remind us of our resilience and our ability to withstand the many social forces that threaten our existence.

Our Elders said there would come a springtime when the sun would bring forth warmth. They said the mist and rains would wash away all of our hurts, all of the turmoil, and all of our confusion. They said the pieces of the puzzle would finally come together and from this understanding we would know what happened to us was something much bigger. They said the buds on the willow branches would begin to open up. They said our Indigenous ways of knowing would once again sprout from the earth. They said our young people would rise up as a new generation of thinkers, storytellers, dreamers, writers, dancers, singers, drummers, artists, and poets. They said our young people would one day take their rightful place in the world. They said all the music would return just as nature sings life into being where the red willow grows. In this special issue, we bear witness to a new song.

This issue of the Canadian Journal for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education was intended to create an interdisciplinary dialogue on Indigenous science education in the North American (Turtle Island) context. The articles contribute to the growing literature base under the rubric of cross-cultural studies in science education. They serve to remind readers the complexity of thought in this field of study while providing current developments and examples of what teachers and researchers are actually doing in this area.

Incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing in school science is a fact of life and amatter of policy in Canada, the United States, and other Indigenous countries around the world. However, not much is known about what strategies teachers actually use to bring Western science and Indigenous ways of knowing together in specific cultural contexts.Many teachers look for prepackaged curriculum, ready-made lessons, and teaching strategies. However, few place-based resources, textbooks, and materials exist that teachers can use as a starting point. In the article entitled “Two-Eyed Seeing in the Classroom Environment: Concepts, Approaches, and Challenges,” the authors outline concepts, approaches, and challenges involved in integratingWestern science with Mi’kmaq ways of knowing at Cape Breton University. By applying the principles of Two-Eyed Seeing approach, knowledge domination and assimilation are avoided while recognizing the best from both worlds.

Indigenous people are a people of place, and their ontologies, epistemologies, methodologies, and pedagogies are rooted deep within their traditional territories. Access to Indigenous ways of knowing involves Elders and community involvement. There are protocols that need to be followed. A good example of a community–university research project is provided in the article entitled “Pilimmaksarniq: Working Together for the Common Good in Science Curriculum Development and Delivery in Nunuvut.” The authors showcase a multi-year research project in which they describe ways they engaged several Inuit communities in the development of science curriculum that was reflective of their contextual realities.

The articulation of community-based frameworks, processes, and guiding principles are essential in the development of school science curriculum that embrace both Western science and Indigenous ways of knowing. In the article entitled “Ininiwi-Kiskanitamowin: A Framework Model for Long-Term Science Education.” The authors share their work in the context of northern Manitoba within the traditional territories of the Swampy Cree. Guided by a series of critical questions, the authors embark on a colearning journey with a group of service teachers, consultants, and administrators in a focused conference setting. Out of the dialogue emerges what the authors describe as a “model and a philosophical overview for lifelong learning in science education.”

Last but not least, decolonizing science curriculum to accommodate Indigenous ways of knowing begins within the inner world of teachers. Thinking “out of the box” and becoming open to other ways of knowing requires ongoing self-reflective talk. Teachers need to interrogate the ideologies and practices they use, which may not be suitable for all Indigenous learners. In the article entitled “Decolonizing Science Education and the Science Teacher: A White Teacher’s Perspective,” the author shares her personal experiences with her own learning journey as a science teacher in an Indigenous setting. She encourages teachers to become immersed within the culture, worldview, language, and values of Indigenous people in order to teach science that is balanced and life enhancing for all students regardless of heritage.

I ask readers to take what they need from the articles and leave the rest. Many thanks to the authors for their words and wisdom as we move into another exciting era of cross-cultural knowledge exchange in science education. And in the words of my Cree ancestors, Ekosi!

Dr. Herman Michell
Associate Professor
Vice President Academics
First Nations University of Canada

Reprinted with permission of the author. The following are the articles presented, with annotations by Glen Aikenhead.

Michell, Herman. (2009). Introduction to the Special Issue on Indigenous Science Education From Place: Best Practices on Turtle Island/Introduction au Numéro spécial sur l'enseignement des sciences en milieu autochtone et sens du lieu: Pratiques d'excellence à Turtle Island. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 9(3), 137-140.

Hatcher, A., Bartlett, C., Marshall, A., & Marshall, M. (2009). Two-Eyed Seeing in the classroom environment: Concepts, approaches, and challenges. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 9(3), 141-153.

The article describes the integration of Mi’kmaq science and Western science at Cape Breton University (Nova Scotia) in a unique program Integrative Science. Student reactions make the description come alive. The influence of Elder guidance was central.

Lewthwaite, B., & Renaud, R. (2009). Pilimmaksarniq: Working together for the common good in science curriculum development and delivery in Nunavut. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 9(3), 154-172.

The authors address the development and use of a quantitative instrument that can inform school community discussions about science education and monitor the degree of success in the curriculum development process that is founded on principles of the Inuit in the Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Sutherland, D.L., & Henning, D. (2009). Ininiwi-Kiskanitamowin: A framework for long-term science education. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 9, 173-190.

The researchers asked, “What are the necessary components for authentic and successful science education programming for Indigenous students?” Their article provides an answer on the basis of two sequential studies: a literature analysis study, and then an interactive action-research project with 50 cross-cultural science educators from schools in Manitoba, Canada. The results are synthesized as a “life long learning model” for Indigenous students.

Belczewski, A. (2009). Decolonizing science education and the science teacher: A White teacher’s perspective. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 9, 191-202.

Of particular interest to non-Indigenous science educators, the author shares insights into her fascinating journey towards a decolonized way of thinking and teaching university Indigenous students to make their experience with her relevant, meaningful, and respectful.

    Didgeridoo joins sounds of science

    A James Cook University PhD candidate has found a new purpose for the iconic Aboriginal instrument the didgeridoo: educational tool.

    “A didgeridoo plus a barometer makes a science experiment, and the lessons learned include kinetic energy and sound transfer,” Philemon Chigeza said.

    The didgeridoo experiment is one lesson taught by Mr Chigeza at Djarragun College in Gordonvale where he is a science teacher. Mr Chigeza’s extraordinary classes form part of his thesis research which focuses on how the use of cultural resources can assist in the understanding of Queensland’s science curriculum.

    Djarragun College has a predominantly Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander student base and is well known for its high student retention and impressive academic results. Mr Chigeza believes this is due to the school’s unique teaching practices.

    “Many classes at Djarragun are delivered in a way that better suits the Indigenous culture,” Mr Chigeza said.

    Mr Chigeza uses his students’ local language, experiences and knowledge in applying science, and said the students more willingly engage in learning as a result.

    “This experience facilitates these students to create and celebrate their ways of knowing and take ownership of that knowledge. It is more likely to make them knowledge creators and not recipients of other people’s knowledge,” Mr Chigeza said.

    Mr Chigeza uses both old and new Indigenous cultural resources in his lessons. For example, students used the Kup Mauri (or Kopa Maurii) which is a traditional sand oven used to cook food for feasting. This cultural practice was explored and used to explain how heat transfers. This was also compared to modern substitutes for the sand oven.

    Taking it to the playground, Mr Chigeza used a football game to teach about changing the angle of kicking a football and exploring the forces acting on that football including the gravitational pull and frictional drag.

    “Indigenous students are disadvantaged by language and cultural barriers in mainstream Australian schools and I’m aiming to manipulate teaching techniques in a way that they can respond to,” Mr Chigeza said.

    Mr Chigeza is hoping that his research will influence policy makers.

    “I hope this framework will allow other teachers and policy makers to provide a more equitable and positive education experience for Indigenous students,” Mr Chigeza said.“I want to raise the status of Indigenous students in the education system to bring them on par with their non-Indigenous counterparts.”

    For more information contact Jo Meehan, James Cook University Media on (07) 4781 4586. Philemon Chigeza can be contacted at .

    Activities of Dr Ragbir Bhathal

    Dr Ragbir Bhathal from the University of Western Sydney was invited by IAU-UNESCO to give a talk on Astronomy for Aboriginal students at the IAU-UNESCO Symposium held in Paris in January 2009.  After the Paris talk he gave a couple of public lectures in Holland on Aboriginal Astronomy.

    He and his group at UWS are carrying out a project to improve the scientific and mathematical literacy of Aboriginal students in the western suburbs of Sydney by using Aboriginal and modern astronomy. The students use the University's engineering physics laboratories to carry out physics-astronomy experiments. At night they use the UWS Observatory's telescopes to study the heavens.

    He and his group are also carrying out a national project on Aboriginal astronomy using both archival sources and oral history interviews with Aboriginal people. Dr Bhathal is also investigating various sites which may have astronomical significance in Aboriginal society and culture.

    Dr Bhathal gave a series of public lectures on Aboriginal astronomy to various groups for Aboriginal Week in 2009. He also took part in the recent AIATSIS symposium on
    Australian Indigenous astronomy .

    Dr Bhathal can be contacted at .

    'Things belonging to the sky': a symposium on Indigenous Astronomy

    2009 is the International Year of Astronomy and with CSIRO and the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), AIATSIS hosted the first forum for debate and discussion focused on Australian Indigenous Astronomy. In conjunction with the launch of art exhibition Ilgarijliri - Things belonging to the sky , a one day symposium on Indigenous Astronomy was held at the Institute on the 27 November 2009. The symposium brought together leading expertise in the field to share knowledge and perspectives about Australian Indigenous perceptions of the night sky.

    Participants included:

    • Bill Yidumduma Harney, Wardaman elder - The Wardaman sky
    • Ray Norris, CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility - Aboriginal Australians - the world's first astronomers?
    • Charmaine Green, Yamaji Arts - Ilgarijliri - Things belonging to the sky: arts perspective
    • Joe Gumbula - Yolngu astronomy
    • Munya Andrews - Dreamtime stars: an exploration of Aboriginal astronomy
    • Dianne Johnson - Interpretations of the Pleiades in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait astronomies
    • Duane Hamacher - The falling star at Puka: using Aboriginal Dreaming stories to locate meteorite falls and impact craters
    • John Goldsmith - Cosmos, culture and landscape, recent examples of art, science and culture working together, inspired by the celestial
    • Ragbir Bhathal - Perspectives on Aboriginal astronomy
    • John Whop - The philosophy of Tagai in the Torres Strait
    • Hugh Cairns - Pathways to mapping the night sky
    • John Morieson - The night sky legacy of the Boorong clan - an interpretation (poster)
    • Kaye McPherson - Veta: how the moon got her scars (poster)



    International Journal of Environmental & Science Education

    A new issue of the International Journal of Environmental & Science Education has now been released and you may access all journal content freely from the web site:
    IHPST group

    The October newsletter of the IHPST group is now available on the web at

    1.    President’s Column

    2.    IHPST Elections

    3.    Science & Education Latest Number (Vol.18 No.10)

    4.    Science & Education Journal Report

    5.    Book Review Editors Appointed, and Reviewers Required

    6.    Journal Special Issue: Pseudoscience in Society and School

    7.    Mario Bunge’s 90th Birthday Salutations - Michael Matthews, Roberto Torretti, Antoni Domènech, Maria Julia Bertomeu Fernando Broncano

    8.    Conference: Objectivity in Science, June 17-20, 2010,  University of British Columbia

    9.    History of Science Society, Phoenix Conference, 19-22 November

    10.   HPS&ST and NOS Course Outlines and Materials

    11.   National Centre for Science Education (USA)

    12.   First Latin American IHPST Regional Conference, 19-21 August, 2010

    13.   Joint Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association (PSA) and History of Science Society (HSS), November 4-6, 2010, Montreal, Quebec

    14.   European Pupil’s Magazine (EPM)

    15.   XIV Symposium of the International Organization for Science and Technology Education (IOSTE)

    16.   Book Note - W.C. Myrvold & J. Christian (eds.) Quantum Reality, Relativistic Causality, and Closing the Epistemic Circle: Essays in Honour of Abner Shimony

    17.   Current Research

    18.   Publications for Sale

    19.   Coming Conferences

    20.   Journal Numbers for 2009

    21.   IHPST Executive

    22.   IHPST Graduate Students

    23.   IHPST Email List

    24.   Newsletter Items

    Experimental online site for the Journal of Geoscience Education

    We are pleased to announce an experimental online site for the Journal of Geoscience Education! The September issue of JGE, a Special Issue on Thinking and Learning published under JGE's new guidelines, is now available at

    Articles are available in both html and PDF format, and are listed in the Table of Contents. To view html format, simply click on the title of the article. To download PDFs, simply select the "Download PDF" link beneath each article.

    This site offers several unique options that will enhance the community's ability to comment on articles in real time, facilitating an active discussion between scholars in the U.S. and around the world. Beneath each article you will see a box labeled "Post a Comment". Use this option to engage in a discussion about the article, ask the author questions, or suggest additional reading. You may also email article links by clicking on the SHARE link at the top of each page.

    Before Galileo

    ABC TV produced an episode of Message Stick on 1 November featuring Aboriginal Astronomy. It shows how traditional Aboriginal communities used the night sky for time-keeping and navigation, They recognised how the moon moved, how it's linked to tides, and had a deep understanding of how objects move in the sky. Modern-day astronomers are now examining myth and legend as a record of what Indigenous people might have seen in the night sky tens of thousands of years ago, and developing bridges that link modern science to traditional Indigenous knowledge. The program is available on

    Alberto Cupane's PhD thesis

    Alberto Cupane completed his PhD thesis at the Science and Mathematics Education Centre at Curtin University in 2007. Entitled "Towards a cuture-sensitive pedagogy of physics teacher education in Mozambique", it is now accessible at

    ABSTRACT: The problem that I have found while looking for better ways of teaching physics science is that the curriculum we Mozambicans are using 30 years after independence can be hardly distinguished from the colonial curriculum. I generated my research questions based on this problem.
    I have adopted critical auto/ethnography and related trustworthiness criteria to respond to my research questions. I generated my data by looking from different perspectives at myself as learner, teacher and Mozambican citizen.
    This research suggests that the actual situation of largely reproducing a colonial science curriculum can be overcome by the inclusion of a view of the world that I call local-indigenous knowledge. I have achieved three main outcomes from this research:

    The transformation that occurred to me – One of the main
    transformations was to my perception of my cultural identity. Using contemporary theories of culture and rationality I have explored and more fully realised my Mozambican cultural identity.
    -The meaning of indigeneity and local indigenous knowledge. This research has allowed me to reconceptualise the meaning of indigeneity by exposing how it has been applied in a discriminatory sense and how it could be applied to promote the human dimension that exists in all human beings.
    -A cultural model of teaching – I propose the use of both local-indigenous knowledge and World Modern Science to connect students to their history, their culture and their future. My cultural model of teaching encompasses four dimensions: (a) Use of local-indigenous language, (b) Learning by doing using locally available materials, (c) Use of stories to develop students’ cultural awareness (identity) and (d) Inclusion of spirituality in science education.

    These outcomes, which can be deepened and/or transformed by future studies, can be seen as distant from my initial research goal of learning techniques to ‘deliver well’ the curriculum content of my physics classroom; but, for me, these outcomes illustrate the emergent characteristic of this qualitative inquiry into the self-culture dialectic.


    XIV Symposium of the International Organization for Science and Technology Education (IOSTE)
    13-18 June, 2010
    Bled, Slovenia

    We kindly invite you to participate in the
    XIV Symposium of the International
    Organization for Science and Technology Education (IOSTE), to be held 13-18 June, 2010 at the Golf Hotel in Bled, Slovenia (

    The overall theme of the 2010 symposium is "Socio-cultural and Human Values in Science and Technology Education". The organisers invite research-based abstracts and papers addressing the following five subthemes in the contexts of pre-school, primary school, high school or tertiary education:

    1. Diversity in Science and Technology Education: The theme embraces aspects of diversity in STE, including social, cultural and gender diversity. Papers concerning strategies to encourage greater equity of participation in S&T are particularly encouraged;

    2. S&T Curriculum Issues: The theme encompasses research on a broad range of S&T curriculum issues, including curriculum development and reform, teaching and learning strategies, the use of ICTs in science learning, quality issues, curriculum content, structure, assessment and texts;

    3. STE for Sustainable Development: Topics include research on ecological and environmental dimensions of STE, teaching and learning strategies concerning sustainable development, sustainable development curricula, economic and social implications of sustainable development education;

    4. S&T Teacher Education: This theme invites research papers on pre-service teacher education, teacher professional development, and policy initiatives to attract, retain and support S&T teachers;

    5. Methodological and Interdisciplinary Issues in STE: Topics include multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research in science education, values education, issues of ethics, democracy and peace in STE, and philosophical, psychological and sociological aspects of STE.


    Cambridge University, United Kingdom

    2-5 August 2010

    The International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences examines the nature of disciplinary practices, and the interdisciplinary practices that arise in the context of 'real world' applications. It also interrogates what constitutes 'science' in a social context, and the connections between the social and other sciences.

    As well as an impressive line-up of international main speakers, the conference will also include numerous paper, workshop and colloquium presentations by social science researchers, practitioners and teachers. We would particularly like to invite you to respond to the conference Call-for-Papers. Presenters may choose to submit written papers for publication in the fully refereed International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences. If you are unable to attend the conference in person, virtual registrations are also available which allow you to submit a paper for refereeing and possible publication in this fully refereed academic journal, as well as the option to submit a presentation to the conference YouTube channel.

    The deadline for the next round in the call for papers (a title and short abstract) is 10 December 2009. Future deadlines will be announced on the conference website after this date. Proposals are reviewed within two weeks of submission. Full details of the conference, including an online proposal submission form, may be found at the conference website -

    GeoSciEd VI: Geoscience Education - Developing the World

    Johannnesburg, South Africa
    August 29 - September 3, 2010

    The International Geosciences Education Organisation (IGEO), an affiliate to the IUGS (International Union of Geological Sciences), is dedicated to developing the field of geoscience education and to promoting strong earth and environmental science education throughout the world. The society holds a conference every four years to encourage collaboration and sharing of information among the world’s geoscience educators. The IGEO conference is a forum for geoscience educators at all levels (preK-adult) and disciplines (earth, atmosphere, ocean, space) in both informal and formal contexts to collaborate and discuss best practices in teaching and learning, geoscience education research, and curriculum and technology development.

    The local organizing committee of GeoSciEd VI warmly invites your participation in the sixth IGEO conference, “Geoscience Education – Developing the World” to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 29 to September 3, 2010. Both oral and poster presentations on topics in geoscience education are welcome, and presentations from the broader science education research community with relevance to geoscience education are also encouraged. The conference will feature an array of outstanding field trips that showcase South Africa’s world-famous geoscience sites, including Tswaing Meteorite Crater, the Cradle of Humankind, the Witwatersrand Goldfield, the South African Large Telescope, Simangaliso Wetland Park, and Kruger National Park.

    Registration and abstract submission will open by January 2010. For more information and a description of conference themes and field trips, please see the conference website at


    This is mostly a summary of upcoming conferences. More details may have been given in this or previous bulletins as shown. A web-based contact is usually included. Inclusion of conferences in this list is not to be read as an endorsement of the conference.


    January 2010

    5-7 January: Sixth International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, University of Cuenca, Ecuador (Jun09)

    7-10 January: 8th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Education,Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa / Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio Hotel Honolulu  (Jun09)

    9-11 January: Third World Universities Forum, Davos, Switzerland (April09)

    March 2010

    20-24 March: National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) annual conference, Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA  (Aug09)

    June 2010

    13-18 June: XIV Symposium of the International Organization for Science and Technology Education (IOSTE), Golf Hotel in Bled, Slovenia (

    21-23 June: Global Studies Conference, Pusan National University, Busan, South Korea (Aug09)

    28 June - 2 July: ICASE World Conference 2010, Tartu, Estonia (Oct08)

    29 June - 2 July: Eighth International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA. (Aug10)

    30 June - 3 July: Australasian Science Education Research Association (ASERA), sponsored by University of Newcastle (NSW). Venue: Shoal Bay Resort, Port Stephens (north of Newcastle)

    July 2010

    6-9 July: Seventeenth International Conference on Learning, Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong  (Oct09) 

    19-21 July: Tenth International Conference on Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland (Oct09)

    August 2010

    2-5 August: Fifth International Conference on Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Cambridge University, United Kingdom (Dec09)

    29 August-3 September: GeoSciEd VI: Geoscience Education - Developing the World.
    Johannnesburg, South Africa, (Dec 09)


    April 2011

    2-6 April: National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) annual conference, Orlando FA, USA


    March 2012

    24-28 March: National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) annual conference, Indianapolis IN, USA

    Last updated: 02 December 2009