The emu in the sky rising in Macquarie Woods Recreational Area, Vittoria March 2020

Video Conference: Australian Indigenous astronomy

Duration: 50 minutes
From 1 February 2021 Video Conference

Delve into the Australian Curriculum’s Cross Curricula Priority on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and science in this engaging, thought provoking video conference. Experience the oldest astronomical knowledge on the planet. Enhancing the understanding of the depth of astronomical knowledge systems held by Australia’s first people we will explore the celestial knowledge of the Wergaia Nation revealing the intricate relationships deeply embedded in science and culture. Then head to the turquoise waters of the Torres Strait Islands and learn about the Warrior Spirit Tagai and his embodiment in Uncle Eddie Mabo and the historic decision by the High Court in 1992.

This video conference has been developed in close consultation with First Nations practitioners, artists and peoples.

Aunty Joanne is an Aboriginal woman born in Sydney on the land of the Gadigal people. Aunty Joanne grew up with stories of the Milky Way, shared by her mother, Elders and Community Knowledge Holders. She is a founding member of Warringa Baiya (NSW Aboriginal Women’s Legal Service), and has worked on the Youth Koori Court community panel as an Elder.

If you are new to video conferences we have an informative how to connect guide for support.

Please ensure that learners have watched the online video Baranyi and made the star wheel by following the links in the Learning Resources below.

This on-demand digital program is part of our 2021 schools offer. Available Monday to Friday at 10am, 11am, midday, 1pm and 2pm.  Please note that bookings will be facilitated by Aunty Joanne Selfe where possible, and at other times by Powerhouse Museum educators.

We also host special one-off webinars scheduled at specific times throughout the year. These explore timely themes and ideas and featurspecial guests. 

Discover More

Syllabus links

Stage 1 
Science and Technology K-6 

STAGE 1 Living World 


A student: 

  • identifies how plants and animals are used for food and fibre products ST1-5LW-T 


Content Focus 

Stage 1 of the Living World strand focuses on the features of living things, their environment and how they change and reproduce. Students investigate how plants and animals are used to satisfy our needs for food and fibre. Stage 1 of this strand develops students’ understanding of how living things and their environment play a central role in the support for and survival of humans. 



Plants and animals used for food and fibre  

Focus question: How do humans use plants and animals? 


  • explore the plants and animals used in customary practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples      




Stage 2 
Science and Technology K-6 

STAGE 2 Earth and Space 


A student: 

  1. questions, plans and conducts scientific investigations, collects and summarises data and communicates using scientific representations ST2-1WS-S 
  1. investigates regular changes caused by interactions between the Earth and the Sun, and changes to the Earth’s surface ST2-10ES-S 

Content Focus 

Stage 2 of the Earth and Space strand focuses on the Earth’s surface and how it changes over time. Students investigate natural processes and human activity in order to develop a view in relation to sustainable practices. Students explore the effect of the interactions between the Earth and the Sun. 



Earth’s relationship with the Sun 

Inquiry question: What occurs as a result of the interactions between the Earth and the Sun? 


  • investigate how changes in the environment are used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to develop seasonal calendars 



Stage 3 
Science and Technology K-6 

STAGE 3 Earth and Space 


A student: 

  1. plans and conducts scientific investigations to answer testable questions, and collects and summarises data to communicate conclusions ST3-1WS-S 
  1. explains regular events in the solar system and geological events on the Earth’s surface 

Content Focus 

Stage 3 of the Earth and Space strand focuses on Earth’s place in the solar system, changes on its surface caused by natural disasters and the exploration of how these may be mitigated. Stage 3 of this strand further develops students’ understanding of the Earth, its position in the Solar System and as a dynamic part of a complex, interrelated system. 



Earth’s place in our Solar System 

Inquiry question: How does the Earth compare to other planets in the Solar System? 


  • research and communicate how Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Peoples use observations of the night sky to inform decisions about resources and significant cultural events, for example:       
  • gathering food 
  • ceremonies 
  • song lines 
  • navigation 



Foundation to Year 10. Australian Curriculum Cross Curricula Priority. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures 

Learning area 


Students will have opportunities to learn that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples have longstanding scientific knowledge traditions and developed knowledge about the world by: 

  • observation, using all the senses 
  • prediction and hypothesis 
  • testing (trial and error) 
  • making generalisations within specific contexts such as the use of food, natural materials, navigation and sustainability of the environment. 
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Learning Resources

This program has several useful Learning resources to use before, during and after the video conference.

Before the video conference please download Baranyi and let your learners experience a significant event from multiple points of view.

A planisphere (star wheel) will be used during the program to help solve a calendrical problem around the star Marpeankurrk (Arcturus) . Learners will need to assemble and practice using it before the video conference.

After the video conference this last activity looks at one way in which Indigenous communities hold and pass knowledge from one generation to the next.

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