THE brightest Aboriginal primary school students in Port Hedland are taking part in a mathematics and science extension activities made possible by a Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation program.
With support from BHP Billiton, Aboriginal students in Years 4-7 in Port Hedland will participate in hands-on science experiments and mathematical investigations at the newly opened Hedland Mathematics and Science Centre of Excellence based at South Hedland Primary School.
Primary schools in Hedland are allocated a quota of students they can nominate to be part of the program based on the number of Aboriginal students in Years 4–7.
Principals and teachers are asked to select students based on results from testing as part of the National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy, (NAPLAN), and as part of the Western Australian Monitoring Standards in Education, (WAMSE).
“It’s the cream of the crop that attend. We’ve got 30 places available for students and we’ve filled all of them at the moment,” says Project Manager Ms Emily Leech.
There are programs in place focussing on literacy and numeracy but there has not been a focus on science, which is where the Hedland Mathematics and Science Centre of Excellence comes in.
Students involved with the centre automatically become members of the CSIRO Double Helix Club giving them access to a wide range of science based activities.
Students also have the opportunity of take part in engineering activities.
“It’s to get these kids to achieve better results in maths and science in primary school so when they enter high school they can enter the top streams of those subject areas.
This would give them more options to choose in high school, hopefully leading to choosing career paths in the mining and engineering industries.”
The centre runs two days a week on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons after school for two hours. Students are transported to and from the centre by the Youth Involvement Council’s bus.
Volunteer teachers from the schools in Hedland work with students in small groups.
In addition to working on projects, students will have a taste of high school science when they spend a day at Hedland Senior High School later this year.