Teacher background information
Year 5 Science Content Description
Science Inquiry Skills
Questioning and predictingWith guidance, pose clarifying questions and make predictions about scientific investigations (ACSIS231 - Scootle )
acknowledging and using information from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to guide the formulation of investigable questions about adaptations
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 structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment (ACSSU043)
Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community decisions (ACSHE083) & (ACSHE100)
A potential way to approach this content description is:
Students use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ knowledges of structural features and adaptations of organisms to guide the formulation of scientific questions for an investigation.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have long recorded scientific knowledges in paintings, oral records and song. Through online research students can investigate these knowledges to pose clarifying questions for scientific investigation. An example of the advantage of acknowledging and using information from Aboriginal Peoples can be found in the early European investigation of the platypus. As an egg laying monotreme, the platypus has many adaptations that facilitate its survival in the environment. European naturalists who described the platypus in Western journals were met with skepticism, and the scientific details reported by European scientists were initially considered a hoax. Scientific knowledge, such as a deep understanding of the structural features and adaptations of the platypus, has been accumulated by Aboriginal Peoples over millennia and is documented in cultural records. Acknowledgement of this scientific knowledge could have assisted early European colonials in Australia to clarify the question “Is a platypus a mammal?”
Similarly, acknowledgement and use of the detailed scientific knowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have of the structural adaptations of organisms within their environment can assist students in the formulation and refinement of scientific questions. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have long-held scientific knowledge about the distribution of plants and animals, both past and present, in Australia. Some biologists investigate the distributions of organisms to understand the adaptations that facilitate an organism's survival in a specific environment. For example, until recently sawfish were considered to be a predominantly a salt-water coastal species. However, the Gurindji Peoples, whose traditional lands are 800km south of Darwin in the Northern Territory, have long been aware that sawfish can live far from the ocean. This fact was recently brought to the attention of Western scientists when the Gurindji Peoples shared their records of sawfish in paintings located at a site near Kalkarindji, far distant from the ocean.
Online research can assist students to understand the scientific knowledge held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples and to inform the clarifying questions they pose about adaptations. Students can research sawfish records in Aboriginal paintings to broaden their understanding about sawfish distribution in order to pose clarifying questions for investigation of adaptations. Students can also research Aboriginal Peoples’ scientific knowledge about the structural adaptations of the thorny devil, that can gather water into its mouth by capillary action, or the water-holding frog, that can successfully inhabit desert environments. Online research to understand and use Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ records can provide students with information to assist the formulation of scientific questions about the structural features and adaptations of organisms that help them survive in specific environments.