In this inquiry students investigate how Aboriginal peoples' and Torres Strait Islander peoples' knowledge of chemical sciences informed food preparation and cooking techniques.

Fish that has been roasted on coals

Chemical sciences: Solids, liquids and gases have different observable properties and behave in different ways. (ACSSU077 )

Indigenous Australians have long recognised the link between heat and its influence on liquids and gases (states of matter). Through repeated observations, a clear science understanding of how water (a liquid) could be induced to change state into a gas (steam) has been understood for possibly thousands of years.

Replicating underground cooking in a lab

This understanding of gases was applied to the problem of cooking food. Making food edible continues to be a common and shared science-based human endeavour. The development of food wrapping and ground ovens reduced food spoilage and increased essential mineral and vitamin intake. How we cook food illustrates how scientific knowledge is used to inform our practices and is used to solve problems.

Students compare carrots in the wrapped or unwrapped inquiry

This inquiry provides students the chance to experience how an abstract key science concept (solids, liquids and gases) has relevance to everyone's daily life. Through the student-led design and conducting of these inquiries, students develop and exhibit a range of science inquiry skills such as questioning and predicting, planning and conducting, processing and analysing and evaluating and communicating. Students discover that Indigenous Australians used some of the same scientific inquiry skills thousands of years ago when they tested and trialled underground ovens that utilised steam to cook food.

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