Students from the Pia Wadjarri Remote Community School visited us in Perth, Western Australia, for a day of astronomy fun.
We welcomed the students as part of our joint science camp with Curtin University[Link will open in a new window] (Curtin). Pia Wadjarri’s STEM Professionals in Schools representative and geology researcher from Curtin, Dr Luc Doucet, organised the camp.
Rock stars on land and sky
The Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory[Link will open in a new window] (MRO) is on Wajarri Yamaji Country in Western Australia. It's home to incredible radio telescopes that are exploring the Universe.[Link will open in a new window] Next door – in remote Australian terms (about 50 kilometres away) – is the Pia Wadjarri community.
As well as telescopes, Wajarri country is also home to some of the oldest rocks on the planet. These rocks have long been studied by geologists, including researchers from Curtin.
This local science all came together when students from the Pia Wadjarri community travelled eight hours to Perth for a week of exploration.
During their trip, students joined in activities at Curtin and CSIRO sites to discover the wonderful science around them. They also visited the WA Museum Boola Bardip[Link will open in a new window] and the Perth science museum Scitech[Link will open in a new window]. They even designed, built and launched some water rockets!
Inspiring science, no matter where you are
We’ve had a long positive relationship with the Wajarri people, who are the Traditional Owners and native title holders of the MRO site.
Our researchers visit the Pia Wadjarri school every year, and the Pia Wadjarri students take a special annual excursion to the MRO. There they visit the telescopes and explore firsthand the technology on their Country.
Our astronomer Dr Laura Driessen visited the students a few weeks before the Perth trip.
“I loved visiting the kids at school and showing them the telescopes we use to explore the Universe,” Laura said.
"However, this is the first time the students have visited us in Perth.
“Equally important, in Perth I showed the students where I work and gave them a glimpse of what my day-to-day work is like,” she said.
High speed connection from Wajarri Country to Perth
One of the week's highlights was a visit to the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre[Link will open in a new window]. The Pawsey Centre is where the data from the MRO telescopes ends up in powerful computers.
Eight year old student Ellazay said she enjoyed her tour of the supercomputers.
“I’ve learnt that stars blow up,” Ellazay said.
Meanwhile, discussions are already underway to make the trip an annual event.
What a week! We’re already looking forward to the next one.
We run the STEM Professionals in Schools program. It connects teachers all over Australia with professionals in science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM).