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Experience the science of Aboriginal culture

by Kristina Karasulas

A

free Family Science Fun Day at Redfern Community Centre this Sunday 11 August will reveal how science has been used by the world’s oldest living culture. Visitors will see how Aboriginal practices are helping regenerate the land and improving wildlife habitats in northern NSW, while children can create slime, make a stone axe and enjoy loads of other hands-on activities. Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the free community day was being held as part of Macquarie University’s four- day Indigenous Science Experience. “This is a rare chance to learn from Aboriginal elders and scientists from as far away as Arnhem Land,” the Lord Mayor said. “It’s also a chance to promote their contribution to scientific research, land management and science education.” Fun activities include basket weaving, insect and microbeast handling, microscopes and chemistry, as well as mini water courses controlled by pumps and pulleys. Macquarie University Research

Officer, Dave Harrington, from the National Indigenous Science Education Program, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander practices contributed to a better understanding of science. “Science often gets dressed up as a something that is purely intellectual, but it’s actually really hands-on,” Mr Harrington said. “By looking at how Aboriginal peoples use navigation, fire and earth as tools, we gain a better appreciation of how important science is to our day-to-day lives.” Contributing to the displays and activities will be Birds Australia with their popular ‘eagle cam’, Firesticks, National Parks and Wildlife, Yugul Mangi rangers from southeast Arnhem Land, the Australian Tropical Herbarium from Cairns, students from the Silkwood Independent School on the Gold Coast, and Sydney Olympic Park. Oliver Costello is a Bundjalung man and the coordinator of Firesticks, a partnered project that works with Aboriginal landowners in northern NSW to improve landscapes using cultural practices and knowledge. “Traditionally, Aboriginal people relied on fire for many reasons, including maintaining resources

Attendees at last year’s Family Science Fun Day. Image supplied

and creating pathways, so it plays a very important role in our culture,” Mr Costello said. “All plants and animals have some kind of relationship with fire – they either like it or they don’t. For example, fire will often kill rainforest areas, but some bushland, such as coastal heath, need fire to regenerate, because as some plant species age, they die-off and other species come in and take over. “Appropriate fire regimes protect ecosystems, so a part of our project is acknowledging and re-establishing culturally appropriate regimes. Unfortunately, in many areas those practices have declined or ceased because of land use change, access to land and displacement. “We want to reinvigorate Indigenous cultural practices and knowledge so that Aboriginal landowners are acknowledged and supported to manage their country with their own cultural values and practices.” Family Science Fun Day - The Indigenous Science Experience will be held this Sunday 11 August from 10.30am-2.30pm at the Redfern Community Centre, 53 Hugo Street, Redfern. Free admission. Page 1


Indigenous science day at redfern