Summer school for Indigenous STEM students expands

Monday, 06 July, 2015

This summer, CSIRO will give Indigenous students across three states the chance to participate in the Aboriginal Summer School for Excellence in Technology and Science (ASSETS) — a residential summer school for Year 10 students who are interested in their cultural background as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

During the summer school, scientists share their research and discuss study and career possibilities while Indigenous mentors and leaders help students strengthen their cultural connections. Students will also complete a group research project and present their findings at the closing ceremony.

ASSETS student Tain getting hands-on experience in the lab.

Improving engagement and participation of Indigenous students in STEM is integral for creating a diverse and valuable workforce for the benefit of Australia. But unlike other STEM programs, ASSETS has a fundamental and intrinsic focus on Indigenous culture and history.

“Indigenous Australians have a long history of caring for and contributing to our country scientifically, and we need to leverage that for the benefit of the environment, community, industry and economy,” said Marian Heard, director of the Indigenous education program at CSIRO.

After the success of last year’s ASSETS program in Adelaide, this year’s summer schools will be expanded to also be held in Newcastle and Townsville. There is no cost for students to attend the nine-day program; return airfares, accommodation and meals are all provided.

“We’re very excited to be able to bring this program to more students across the country so they can learn more about their cultural background and work with the nation’s top scientists,” said Heard.

ASSETS is just one part of the Indigenous STEM Education program managed by CSIRO and funded by the BHP Billiton Foundation. Applications open today in line with NAIDOC Week — a time to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

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