Teacher background information


Year 1 Science Content Description

Science Inquiry Skills


Represent and communicate observations and ideas in a variety of ways (ACSIS029 - Scootle )

  • acknowledging and learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of representing and sharing observations

This elaboration provides students with an opportunity to develop this core Science Inquiry Skill whilst addressing intercultural science inquiry skills relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures within the context of the following content description(s) from the Science Understanding and/or Science as a Human Endeavour strand(s).

Living things have a variety of external features (ACSSU017)

Living things live in different places where their needs are met (ACSSU211)

A potential way to approach this content description is: 

In developing this science inquiry skill, students can acknowledge and learn about the ways that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have long represented and shared scientific observations. The external features of animals can leave trace evidence in the environment such as tracks on the ground and scratch marks on trees. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have long observed and recorded the prints, tracks and traces left by animals and they use a variety of methods to represent and communicate such scientific information, such as petroglyphs and paintings. A pedagogical practice of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples is to replicate animal tracks and traces on the ground to teach children how to identify animals that move through the environment. Sand drawing of identifiable traces of native animals has long been an effective means of representing and communicating knowledges that have been observed of living things in the environment.

The Arrernte Peoples of Central Australia have long, and with great attention to detail, accurately represented animal tracks or prints in the sand; the replicated marks are used as a method of communication and for teaching children. Children are encouraged to repeat the drawings as a way to reinforce and remember this scientific knowledge. An emu print, for example, is represented by holding the index finger and thumb at an angle of approximately 45 degrees and pressing it into the sand. Then, without lifting the index finger the thumb is moved to the opposite side and again pressed into the sand. This represents the three toes of the emu foot. The Noongar Peoples of south west Western Australia use the three middle digits of the hand to represent the emu print in sand. A lizard track may be represented by a line through the sand to indicate the furrow left by the tail, and dots at regular intervals on either side represent the mark left by the claws as the reptile moves across the ground. Sometimes sticks are used to draw the representation of the animal track or print in the sand. The game waaiyn (a term that refers to land animals and reptiles in the Datiwuy language of northern Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory) is an Aboriginal children’s game where students draw an animal track or print in the sand and others try to guess the representation.

In developing the science inquiry skill of representing and communicating observations and ideas, teachers can acknowledge the ways that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples represent and communicate scientific knowledges, such as the replication of knowledges in sand drawings. Teachers could facilitate the game waaiyn to provide an opportunity for students to replicate their own observations of animal prints or tracks in sand or earth. Online resources, such as still images and videos, can be used to demonstrate and acknowledge examples of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of representing and communicating scientific observations.