Young scientists light up the night sky

Year 10 students from Hedland Senior High School got to see just how exciting science can be when they recently attended the Pilbara School Camp in Dampier.

The camp is part of the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s Follow the Dream/Partnerships for Success program which has been supporting aspirant Aboriginal students in Port Hedland for the past 10 years.

Supported by BHP Billiton, the Port Hedland-based programs is one of the biggest in Australia, with 80 students participating at Hedland Senior High School from Year 8 to Year 12, and primary students in years four to seven doing the special maths and science program at South Hedland Primary School.

The original program, known as Kurtakulka Maya which means ‘Learning Home for Kids’, supports 40 students in year 10, 11 and 12.

Kurtakulka Maya project co-ordinator Elke Rhodes said being in Dampier, the students were able to focus on a wide range of science projects while experiencing a part of country central to Indigenous culture.

“The kids built high pressure rockets, complete with luminescent strips, and launched them into the night skies,” Elke said.

“We also took every opportunity possible to show students the connections to the local environment and the rich natural resources in the area,” she said. “Specific mention was made about rock formations and the process around resource extraction, processing and sale of raw materials.”

“One activity aimed at understanding the principles of mechanical construction and Newton’s laws relating to gravity, particularly that relating to action and reaction, saw the students build gravity machines and examine the impacts of ‘cause and effect’ on objects.

“In the evenings, the students were shown how to use the night skies to navigate as well as identifying known constellations and nearby galaxies.”

In addition to undertaking many other science projects, the students visited Hearson’s Cove and explored the Aboriginal rock paintings on the Burrup Peninsula while they were in Dampier.

The camp was made possible through the ongoing support of BHP Billiton Iron Ore and the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation.


Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation Kurtakulka Maya co-ordinator Elke Rhodes 0438 916 684