Ashfield Public School logo

Ashfield Public School

Ashfield Public School

Every child, every opportunity

Telephone02 9798 4400

Learning about, and through, First Nations science

As one of the world’s oldest living cultures, the Australian First Nations are renowned for their historic and contemporary high-level scientific knowledge, understanding and inquiry skills. First Nations science is consistent with the understanding that all groups of humans around the world and throughout history have hypothesised, experimented, made empirical observations, gathered evidence, recognised patterns, verified through repetition, made inferences and predictions, and developed branches of knowledge that helped them to make sense of the world around them and their place within it.

The following aspects of First Nations science have been identified as relevant to science education in the Australian Curriculum:

Knowledges including chemistry, physics, geology, botany, zoology, physiology, genetics, meteorology, astronomy, nutrition, hydrology, ecology.

Technologies including the development of machines, specialised tools, weaponry, architecture, clothing, nets, traps and domestic utensils (baskets, knives, chisels, sieves).

Processes, both physical and chemical, including the production of medicines, cooking methods, fire lighting methods, and fibre, string and rope production.

Contributions to Science including medicine, ecology, archaeology, botany, agriculture, nutrition, fire and water management and sustainability.

Ethical considerations including the treatment of cultural heritage sites and the respect of intellectual property rights as they relate to 21st century scientists.

First Nations science gives a world view of sustainable reciprocal relationships between culture and nature, and a holistic approach to knowledge. It emphasises the relationships that people have with places and their interconnectedness with the environments in which they live. It is the practical application of theories of knowledge about the nature of the world through oral traditions such as stories, dance, and ceremonies.

When designing science programs, teachers should create opportunities for students to learn about, and learn through First Nations science to achieve the outcomes of the Science Syllabus. There are many resources to inform quality teaching of First Nations science such as The Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) website which includes examples of best practice and great ways to include First Nations knowledges and perspectives in the science curriculum.

Science is a mandatory key learning area of the NSW curriculum and teaches students to discover and explain phenomena that occur in natural and physical worlds and how to apply scientific skills, knowledge and understanding across a broad range of contexts. By including an Australian First Nations perspective, science education draws on our diverse histories and cultures to embed a uniquely Australian perspective into the Science curriculum. online.pdf

Weaving Indigenous and sustainability sciences to diversify our methods. (2015) Jay T. Johnson, Richard Howitt, Gregory Cajete, Fikret Berkes, Renee Pualani Louis & Andrew Kliskey