Living Knowledge Project

Kempsey High School - How did we do it?

Initiating a Science in Context program

Where to start? Ask the students!!

Arrange a meeting with Aboriginal students and ask them about their interests and what they want to learn about at school.

At Kempsey High, the AEA invited a cross-range of students in ability and area location (mountains, coast and town) to a meeting with some teachers.

(1) They were given a basic outline of the idea that new programs needed to be written to interest the students, especially Aboriginal students.

(2) Two sheets of butcher's paper were pinned to the wall and the students were asked to start suggesting things that they were interested in and what they would like to learn about!! Eventually the students were picking up the pens and writing their own ideas.




  • fishing/ hunting
  • weapons
  • spearing
  • sacred sites
  • turtle hunting
  • art
  • Aboriginal way of life
  • boating
  • communications (languages etc)
  • bush food and medicines
  • sport
  • golf
  • swimming
  • running
  • athletics
  • bikes
  • netball
  • jockeying
  • horse riding
  • weight lifting
  • rugby
  • touch football
  • soccer
  • boxing
  • animals

This gives the students ownership of the units. The coordination role of the trusted AEA meant that the students were willing to talk more freely.

*The original terms traditional and modern were replaced by better terms based on the need for correct protocol in language... a huge learning curve as the project went on.

Ask the Aboriginal Community!!

Further work was carried out with the Elders Council to create a forum of community members and the parents of the Aboriginal students were encouraged to attend.

(1) The aims of the program were outlined.
(2) Elders and parents were asked for input as to the main directions that the Aboriginal community sees as important.

The main issues identified by the Dunghutti community were:

  • Respect for the community
  • Empowerment
  • Hands on outdoor activities
  • Excursions
  • Scientific Literacy
  • Increasing Expectations
  • Retention rates
  • Gender based access to information
  • Legal and financial remuneration

A successful approach by Warren High was to invite the community to as BBQ by a written invitation and then back that up by the AEA ringing and confirming the attendance of parents