Building on the success of last year's Immersion Days, the Deadly in Generation STEM Camp will take place over four exciting days in October.
With a select group of 20 Year 9 Aboriginal students from high schools in the Illawarra region, this program aims to foster their interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) while exploring the connections between Indigenous knowledges and local STEM pathways.
Led by Cultural Knowledge Holders, local STEM professionals, and mentors, participants will delve into a range of hands-on activities grounded in the theme of ’Caring for Country.’
Last year's experience involved astronomy, technology, bush medicine and environmental conservation. It took a community-driven approach to deliver and support activities, drawing connections between Indigenous STEM knowledges and local STEM industries.
"I was surprised that there were so many other students," said a Deadly in Generation STEM participant. "We're all from Indigenous backgrounds, so it felt like we all knew each other."
Another student added, "I thought it would be like science at school. But it was completely different. I've also made a lot of new friends."
This year's experience will follow a similar journey, fostering connections, facilitating the exchange of knowledge, and inspiring the next generation of adventurers, creatives, and explorers.
Discovering identity and connection
The camp will begin with students embarking on a Cultural Ecological Walk to learn about traditional medicines and tools used by Dharawal people. Led by knowledgeable guides, students will explore the region’s biodiversity while gaining insights into sustainable practices.
On the second day, students will engage in an exciting activity combining traditional knowledge with technology. From boomerangs to drones, they will discover how navigation techniques have evolved over time and explore the world of coding. Students will be able to witness the connection between Indigenous wisdom and contemporary STEM applications, fostering their curiosity and problem-solving abilities.
That night students will delve into Aboriginal astronomy led by CSIRO Indigenous Astronomer Stacy Mader. Students will have a chance to take control of Parkes telescope as they learn about celestial navigation, traditional constellations, and the significance of the night sky in Indigenous culture.
The third day of the camp will focus on sustainable practices. Students will take part in bush regeneration activities, restoring and conserving local ecosystems. They will also explore sustainable materials and design principles, gaining insights into how Indigenous knowledge can contribute to environmentally friendly solutions.
The final day of camp will focus on roles and responsibilities as students move forward on their learning journey and unpack opportunities for them to continue to explore STEM pathways and connect with their local Community.
Creating pride and empowerment
This year's camp aims to build on the excellent feedback from the 2022 experience; one student said, "I'm walking away with so much knowledge about my culture that I'll be able to pass on to my family, especially my younger brother. It'll be nice to teach him how to connect to Country. I'd like to be a nurse and combine my cultural knowledge."
Meanwhile, for another student, who enjoys STEM–based subjects at school, the program has widened his outlook on STEM and where it could lead. "Most careers have some sort of influence by STEM, because maths and science are the world, they're in everything. So even if you're not actively pursuing a career in STEM, you're always going to find aspects of it there. Science, technology, engineering, maths. You see that every day, everywhere."
Another student added, "…The biggest thing we learnt about was definitely local culture and what our people have used their whole lives. How that impacts modern day society."
Zachary Noel-Strang, a Deadly in Generation STEM mentor and engineer, said he hopes the students feel inspired and realise that STEM can lead to various careers involving history and culture.
"The students created strong friendships through this program. They can help each other through school and in the future," he noted.
Event details: The activities will take place at various cultural sites and local STEM industry hubs throughout the Illawarra region. Transportation will be organised to and from the venues. The camp schedule spans from October 15 until Wednesday, October 18, concluding in the afternoon. Register for the Deadly in Generation STEM Camp.