Text Science principles in traditional Aboriginal Australia

TLF ID M013030

This is an illustrated article about how Aboriginal people's traditional knowledge demonstrates an understanding of physics, biology and chemistry and how Aboriginal people gather knowledge through observation, testing, trial and error, adapting and retesting. Written by Kudjala/Kalkadoon Elder from Queensland Letitia Murgha and intended mainly for teachers, the article focuses on the knowledge of the Aboriginal people of the rainforest about: the properties of materials; the use of forces, heat and water to remove toxins from seeds; how a spearthrower works as a lever; and that a firestick works because friction creates heat.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The article provides information useful for teachers in planning their implementation of the science curriculum. It is particularly relevant to a number of content descriptions in the Science Understanding strand in years 2 and 4, including those about: heat being produced in many ways (firesticks); natural materials having a range of physical properties that can influence their use (lawyer cane); and forces being able to be exerted by one object on another through direct contact (spearthrowers; morah, oourooks and nut stones).
  • It is equally relevant to the content descriptions in the Science as a Human Endeavour strand, also in year 4, about science involving making predictions and describing patterns and relationships. This is a theme of the article, with Letitia Murgha pointing out that the rainforest people used observation and 'all the senses to predict' and hypothesise and that they understood that 'the entire environment around them was intertwined'.
  • The resource is especially valuable for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures cross-curriculum priority. It is particularly supportive of the priority's organising idea that Aboriginal peoples' ways of life are uniquely expressed through ways of being, knowing, thinking and doing. Traditional knowledge of biology, chemistry and physics enabled the people of the rainforest to survive for thousands of years.
Year level

2; 3; 4

Learning area
  • Science

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
  • Organization: The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
  • Publisher
  • Name: The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
  • Organization: The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
  • Description: Publisher
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Unknown
Learning Resource Type
  • Text
  • © The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum). This material may be used and reproduced free of charge for non-commercial educational purposes, provided all acknowledgements are retained.