- The National Indigenous Science Education Program is a finalist for the national Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion
- Program began in 2004 and is a partnership between Charles Sturt and Macquarie University
- Indigenous high school students from Wagga Wagga region
A science program for Indigenous high school students, which is a partnership involving Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt), Macquarie University, high schools and community groups, has been nominated for the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion.
The National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP), which is nominated for the prestigious STEM Inclusion award, aims to assist low socioeconomic students build aspiration towards education, especially science.
NISEP began in 2004 after Yaegl Elders approached Macquarie University scientists about how to engage students.
Charles Sturt in Wagga Wagga partnered with Macquarie University in 2012 to offer the program at Mount Austin High School, and later at Kooringal and Narrandera High Schools.
Associate Professor in Chemistry in the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural and Wine Sciences, Paul Prenzler, said “The program is a great way for students to develop leadership skills because they must rise to the challenge of being put in charge”.
“It also reflects the University’s commitment to our values around inclusion and inspiring and leading for the future.”
NISEP trains Year 9 students to create and present science demonstrations, and then lead the demonstrations in front of Year 7 and primary school students.
As part of the program, participants are invited annually to the Charles Sturt campus in Wagga Wagga in June for training and science demonstrations.
Charles Sturt staff also visit participating schools in November for the full program of events.
Mount Austin High School’s relieving head science teacher, Mrs Aleasha Lyons, said there are multiple benefits for students in NISEP.
“What I see in the students is their leadership skills developing and the confidence to speak in front of others,” Mrs Lyons said.
“It’s also breaking down the barrier of Indigenous students going to university.
“A lot comes from the fear or the unknown, no one in their family might have been to university before.”
Mrs Lyons said that for students, participating in the program and talking to Elders as part of the experience, has encouraged past NISEP students to attend university after graduating high school.
“It opens their eyes that there are possibilities,” Mrs Lyons said.
“The whole process is worthwhile and we are lucky to be involved with NISEP.”
The Eureka Prizes are Australia’s most comprehensive national science awards and the Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion is awarded to programs that are effective in increasing participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
The winner will be announced on Wednesday 28 August.