Empowering Indigenous Students with STEM and their Cultural Heritage

In a collaborative effort between the Woolyungah Indigenous Centre and the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, Wednesday, 12 September was the pilot for K-STEM @ UOW facilitated by lecturer Jade Kennedy.

Inviting previous participants to the UOW Koori STEM Camp as Koori STEM Ambassadors and stage 3 Indigenous students from schools in the Wollongong area, the day had 60 Koori students on campus engaging with STEM. With a focus on mentoring, problem solving and empowerment, activities were held at the sports hub, and students rotated between activities on programming, materials and environmental engineering and physics while understanding how they link to indigenous knowledge.

The Koori STEM Ambassadors were given responsibility and ownership of STEM activities to teach their assigned group of primary school students. This experience seeks to give them confidence in their own abilities and knowledge while providing opportunities to develop closer bonds with each other and a support network for future studies. The outstanding feature of this program is the mixing of cohorts of variously aged students to learn from each other and expand their knowledge. The end result gives students a greater understanding of STEM, pride within their culture and a stronger bond with the university.

Engagements such as these focus on building an ongoing relationship with STEM at UOW from primary school through to high school, build students’ confidence with STEM skills and to encourage them to pursue and explore the career options within this area.