Up to 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will be able to immerse themselves in science when Griffith University hosts the inaugural Indigenous STEM Experience Day.
To celebrate Dr Chris Matthews recent achievement as national winner of the CSIRO’s Indigenous STEM Professional Award, Griffith Sciences will host the event, themed Future Earth – Water, to encourage more First Australian students to study STEM (science, engineering, maths, technology) at a tertiary level.
Held during National Science Week on August 10, students from years 9 to 12 will attend a variety of workshops in science, environment, IT, and engineering. They will also participate in activities highlighting STEM careers and be introduced to the expansive diversity of pathways for students to gain entry into university.
Dr Matthews is a Noonuccal man and lecturer at Griffith University. As Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance he is passionate about connecting culture and mathematics, having developed a method of teaching maths to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through dance and story.
New teaching methods
He teaches students to bring maths to life by crafting stories in which characters take actions that add, subtract or divide. Dr Matthews, who was Griffith’s first Aboriginal graduate from science in 1991, said the support of the university helped him pave his career.
“When it comes to education though, one of the things my work is focused on is connecting culture with maths and science because that’s paramount to what we need to do to get more Indigenous students in STEM,” he said.
“They have to connect themselves culturally, and connect who they are as an Aboriginal child with what science is.”
Taking a whole-of-community approach, teachers and other student influencers such as family and community elders are extended an invitation to the Griffith Indigenous STEM Experience Day, enabling them to connect with Griffith University and become aware of the multitude of support services available to students upon enrollment.
Pro Vice Chancellor (Sciences) Professor Andrew Smith said Griffith had the largest Indigenous student population of any Queensland university.
“That’s a significant achievement and we’d like to see that go from strength to strength,” he said.
Schools across Brisbane and Logan are invited to participate. Students can be registered here.