Teaching ideas and resources
|The word game||Seasons||Making fire|
|Fire management||Bush tucker||Activities with boomerangs|
|Indigenous geologists||Playing a didgeridu||Indigenous astronomers|
The word game
Ask your students if they know any Aboriginal words. There may be a degree of difficulty, depending on where you live. It may be best to focus on animals in particular but there are many place names that have an Aboriginal origin. Once they have a list, they can be encouraged to use good dictionaries to see what the origin of the name is – some will have Aboriginal origins, e.g. kangaroo is an Aboriginal word but echidna comes from the Greek word for ‘spiny’. You may have to borrow some better dictionaries which indicate the origin of the words and there are dictionaries of Aboriginal words.
Give the students a copy of BLM1 and 3 copies of BLM2 each. Talk about the ways we describe time, comparing time going past fast, time dragging, events that repeat themselves, differing cycles of time (e.g. a year on Jupiter is about 12 Earth years). Students may be able to list some events which occur on a regular cycle, e.g. the seasons, their birthdays, the Olympics.
Discuss the representation of the seasons as cycles, as in BLM1. The top drawing is from an Aboriginal perspective while the bottom one is from a western perspective but influenced by the Aboriginal way of seeing the seasons. What do the two drawings have in common? What are the differences (beside the illustrations)?
Students then use BLM2 to complete these activities.
Download blackline masters from here.
can undertake a series of activities on heat production by friction. You will
need a piece of scrap from a wooden crate or pine (softwood) and a length of 10
mm dowel (hardwood). Use a drill to make a small depression in the softwood
Activity 1. Students try to produce heat by friction, by spinning the dowel between their hands with its end in the depression in the softwood (5 minutes). (You could demonstrate how the point of a drill gets hot when drilling into wood, and how wood can get burnt when you use a blunt drill.)
Activity 2. Use the same piece of softwood, rub the edge of a piece of hardwood across it (5 minutes).
An issue regarding fire management which is being discussed as a result of the series of bad bushfires in the past ten years is whether national parks should be burnt on a regular basis to reduce the fuel load. Some people have even suggested that some national parks should be closed because of the danger of fire, because there is no effective management. Research this topic and have a discussion.
On a local level, many houses burn down because burning embers get caught in the gutters and can ignite leaf litter that accumulates there. Have a discussion about removing gutters from houses in fire-prone areas.
Activities on bush tucker can vary with the type of location and the interest of the students. Some of the following activities are medium to long term.
Some schools have set up bush tucker walks. This can be done with help from local Indigenous people who know the local plants and botanists or ecologists who know the scientific names of the plants. It is useful for students to see that there are two ways of understanding the same plants. Students can be involved in maintaining the bush tucker walk or preparing interpretive materials.
Setting up a bush tucker
walk is a long term commitment, and includes developing students’ skills
in horticulture. Greening
Prepare a bush tucker meal. Kangaroo meat can be bought from many supermarkets and either barbecued or braised. Damper can be made from wheat flour. Sweet potato can be used as a yam. Depending on your location, you could include fish, yabbies, eels, emu, shellfish, crocodile or quail for meat. Other bush tucker foods could be purchased and included in the meal.
Take a bush tucker excursion. Visit the botanic gardens or a national park and find out the kinds of plants which are native to the area. Many museums have displays of bush tucker plants as well as other Aboriginal displays.
Macadamias have a very hard shell that’s difficult to crack. After reading about macadamias in the Australian Geographic, Warren Massey wrote that, “All macadamia nuts come with their own strike point clearly marked. If struck on the yellow dot, the shell will split in half neatly and the kernel can then be extracted in one piece.” Design an experiment to check Mr Massey’s statement.
Get some macadamia nuts in
their shells, as well as other nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, pecans,
Students could undertake library research about bush tucker
You can try playing a real didgeridu or through a long cardboard tube or plastic
pipe. To play it, blow air into the mouthpiece through vibrating lips. You have
to blow continuously, and you can change the pitch of the sound by stretching or
loosening your lips. You hold some air is in your cheeks. As you become
experienced, you can top up the air in your cheeks by breathing through your
nose. Some expert players can make a range of noises using the didgeridu, and
some keep the rhythm by hitting the tube using a clap stick. Can you suggest
what part of the orchestra a didgeridu would belong to?
You can try playing a real didgeridu or through a long cardboard tube or plastic pipe. To play it, blow air into the mouthpiece through vibrating lips. You have to blow continuously, and you can change the pitch of the sound by stretching or loosening your lips. You hold some air is in your cheeks. As you become experienced, you can top up the air in your cheeks by breathing through your nose. Some expert players can make a range of noises using the didgeridu, and some keep the rhythm by hitting the tube using a clap stick. Can you suggest what part of the orchestra a didgeridu would belong to?
Investigate ways of changing the pitch of a didgeridu by changing
the tension on the player’s lips (see above)
the length of the pipe
the width of the pipe
the thickness of the pipe
the type of material – wood, cardboard, soft plastics, hard plastics, metal, glass
astronomers: Tchingal – the emu in the
Read a legend that relates
to the night sky. The legend of the seven sisters is a story relating
to the Pleiades, a star cluster which is easiest seen in the evenings at the
end of the year. Tchingal – the emu in the sky is a story
originating from south-eastern
Discuss differences between the ways Indigenous peoples and western astronomers view the skies. It would be useful to include that many of the constellation names are based on Greek legends.
Students could use the Internet to look for photographs of some of the western constellations which have been mentioned. (There are some spectacular photographs at the Anglo-Australian Observatory site, www.aao.gov.au.)
The presence of Tchingal in the night
sky is a constant reminder of the forces of good and evil and the ultimate
triumph of ordinary people, with some help from the protector ancestors. This
story is identified with the Boorong people of western
ABC Video (2001) Bush Mechanics: the series. (now available on DVD)
Australian Bureau of Meteorology. (2002). Indigenous weather knowledge. http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/.
Stephen. (1989). Man of all seasons.
Fleer, Marilyn. (1999). Children’s alternative views: Alternative to what? International Journal of Science Education, 21(2), 119-135.
Helen. (Ed.) (1999). From ochres to eel traps: Aboriginal science and
technology resource guide for teachers.
David. (Ed.). (1994). The encyclopaedia of Aboriginal
ICSU Study Group. (2002). Science and traditional knowledge. Report from the ICSU Study Group on Science and Traditional Knowledge. Accessed at http://www.icsu.org/Gestion/img/ICSU_DOC_DOWNLOAD/220_DD_FILE_Traitional_Knowledge_report.pdf.
Indigenous Science Network, www.ozemail.com.au/~mmichie/network.html
Philip. (1995). Boomerang: Behind an Australian icon.
Linkson, Mark. (1999). Some issues in providing culturally appropriate science curriculum support for Indigenous students. Australian Science Teachers’ Journal, 45(1), 41-48.
Michie, Michael. (2002). Why Indigenous science should be included in the school science curriculum. Australian Science Teachers’ Journal, 48(2), 36-40.
Michie, Michael, Anlezark, Jane, & Uibo, Didamain. (1998). Beyond bush tucker: Implementing Indigenous perspectives through the science curriculum. www.ozemail.com.au/~mmichie/bushtucker.html
Questacon (2003). Burarra gathering. http://burarra.questacon.edu.au/home.html.
Read, Theo, & Rose, Daryl. (2001). The Kormilda science project – the earth sciences with an Australian Indigenous perspective. Australian Science Teachers’ Journal, 47(2), 44-45.
Sharwood, Jennifer, & Kuhn, Monica. (Eds.) (2005). Science Edge, Book 3. Melbourne: Thomson Nelson.
New South Wales Board of Studies
Aboriginal Education research and curriculum resources can be downloaded from http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/aboriginal_research/index.html.
Integrated unit on Aboriginal technologies
South Australian Department of
http://www.aboriginaleducation.sa.edu.au/pages/Educators (look under Aboriginal perspectives, then Science)
UniServe Science http://science.uniserve.edu.au/
UniServe Science is a service of the University of Sydney College of Sciences and Technology, to help support the science curriculum in New South Wales schools. The following are links to indigenous science found in the Stage 4 and 5 areas of the curriculum.
Native plants/bush tucker
|Back to Engaging in Australian Indigenous Science||Back to Areas of interest in Australian Indigenous Science||Last updated: 25 June 2005|