In this inquiry students investigate Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ knowledge of reversible and irreversible change.

Various resins from different plants in Australia

Chemical sciences: Changes to materials can be reversible or irreversible. (ACSSU095 )

Some plant-based resins used in Australia are highly flammable. This knowledge was used by the Yidinji people from the Cairns region, for lighting purposes. They understood that after the resin was burnt it was no longer reusable as an irreversible change had occurred.

Resin from the Kauri Pine and replicate resin

The development of adhesives and torches is a common human endeavour. For Indigenous Australians this required extensive testing, predicting and collecting of data.

The development of this technology required knowledge of resin type, amount, burn duration, critical thermal limits and collection techniques. The need for a particular technology (adhesives) can drive the development of science understanding and research topics.

Students conducting the Sticking Together Scaffolded Inquiry

This inquiry allows students to experience how an abstract key science concept (reversible and irreversible change) has relevance in daily life (both traditionally and in current time).

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 science inquiry skills thousands of years ago when they tested and trialled different adhesives for a range of purposes including using resins as torch fuels.

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