The Indigenous STEM Education Project was a partnership between CSIRO, Australia’s national research science agency, and the BHP Foundation, an independent charity established by BHP to support large, long-term community projects by not-for-profit organisations.
The Project operated from 2014-2021. During this time it has reached just under 24,000 Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students, 2,768 teachers and assistant teachers, and 603 schools. Evaluation evidence indicates that it has left a lasting impact on participating educators, students, and schools, and that the integration of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander knowledges and contexts through hands-on, inquiry-based lessons is beneficial for all students, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.
The Project comprised six programs:
- Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS)
- Bachelor of Science (Extended) at the University of Melbourne
- Indigenous STEM Awards
- Inquiry for Indigenous Science Students (I2S2)
- PRIME Futures
- Science Pathways for Indigenous Communities.
About the programs
While the six programs that comprised the Indigenous STEM Education Project were established as independent programs, there were a common set of underlying principles, informed by best practice and co-design and feedback from cultural knowledge holders.
These principles guided program activities and informed how change was affected and included:
Strengths-based – focusing on the capacity, skills, and knowledge of the program, people, and communities, while acknowledging barriers.
Built on high expectations – setting high expectations for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students.
Promoting inquiry-based STEM pedagogies – teaching based on learning strategies involving student-centred research and investigation.
Privileging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and place – ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges, voices, and experiences are at the forefront of program design and delivery.
Ensuring flexible, culturally responsive program development and delivery.
Evaluation evidence indicates that it has left a lasting impact on participating educators, students, and schools, and that the integration of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander knowledges and contexts through hands-on, inquiry-based lessons is beneficial for all students, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.