Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures Illustrations of practice

Fire: a burning question


Gordonvale State High School is a government school located south of Cairns in Queensland on the traditional lands of the Malanbarra Yidinji people. It has an enrolment of 862 students, of whom 29% are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander.

The school is part of CSIRO’s I2S2 Indigenous STEM Education Project which targets middle-school students in mainstream metropolitan and regional schools using hands-on, inquiry-based learning to increase student engagement and achievement in Science.

In this illustration, teachers help Year 8 students to develop inquiry skills by focusing on the science and skills that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have developed and still use today in fire making. The science includes energy transformation and energy forms.

OI5: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ways of life are uniquely expressed through ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing.

OI9: The significant contributions of Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the present and past are acknowledged locally, nationally and globally.

Numeracy (Level 5)

  • Recognising and using patterns and relationships | Recognise and use patterns and relationships | identify trends using number rules and relationships

Critical and creative thinking (Level 5)

  • Inquiring - identifying exploring and organising information and ideas | Pose questions | pose questions to probe assumptions and investigate complex issues
  • Generating ideas, possibilities and actions | Seek solutions and put ideas into actions | predict possibilities, and identify and test consequences when seeking solutions and putting ideas into action
  • Analysing, synthesising and evaluating reasoning and procedures | Evaluate procedures and outcomes | explain intentions and justify ideas, methods and courses of action, and account for expected and unexpected outcomes against criteria they have identified

Personal and social capability (Level 5)

  • Social management | Work collaboratively | assess the extent to which individual roles and responsibilities enhance group cohesion and the achievement of personal and group objectives

Intercultural Understanding (Level 5)

  • Recognising culture and developing respect | Explore and compare cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices | analyse the dynamic nature of cultural knowledge, beliefs and practices in a range of personal, social and historical contexts

Science (Year 8)

Science Understanding | Physical sciences

  • Energy appears in different forms, including movement (kinetic energy), heat and potential energy, and energy transformations and transfers cause change within systems (ACSSU155)

Science as a Human Endeavour | Nature and development of science

  • Scientific knowledge has changed peoples’ understanding of the world and is refined as new evidence becomes available (ACSHE134)

Science Inquiry Skills | Questioning and Predicting

  • Identify questions and problems that can be investigated scientifically and make predictions based on scientific knowledge (ACSIS139)

Science Inquiry Skills | Planning and Conducting

  • Collaboratively and individually plan and conduct a range of investigation types, including fieldwork and experiments, ensuring safety and ethical guidelines are followed (ACSIS140)
  • Measure and control variables, select equipment appropriate to the task and collect data with accuracy (ACSIS141)

Science Inquiry Skills | Processing and analysing data and information

  • Construct and use a range of representations, including graphs, keys and models to represent and analyse patterns or relationships in data using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS144)
  • Summarise data, from students’ own investigations and secondary sources, and use scientific understanding to identify relationships and draw conclusions based on evidence (ACSIS145)

Science Inquiry Skills | Communicating

Communicate ideas, findings and evidence based solutions to problems using scientific language, and representations, using digital technologies as appropriate (ACSIS148)

This illustration has highlighted how Aboriginal scientific knowledge can be a focus within the Science curriculum. What are the implications of this for student learning?

How can Aboriginal peoples interaction with the environment such as through ecological practices provide real world, hands-on experiences for students?

How are teachers developing in Aboriginal students both a love of culture and of science at the same time? How are teachers developing in Aboriginal students a love of science and of culture?

For information about resources that support this illustration of practice, go to the CSIRO website: https://www.csiro.au/en/Education/Programs/Indigenous-STEM/Programs/I2S2/About-I2S2

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