Releasing a rehabilitated sea turtle off the shores of Quoin Island was a highlight for Indigenous primary school children who are participating in STEM Central’s Buraligim Weiber program.
Affectionately known as Odin, the turtle was released last week by staff of the Quoin Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, as the students cheered him on during their visit.
Thirty students from Gladstone West State School have participated in the program, learning about turtle rehabilitation, native bees and conducting a beach cleanup.
The free program created by CQ University is designed to engage Indigenous primary school children in STEM learning experiences, which are embedded in the Australian curriculum throughout a 20 week period.
STEM Central Lead Associate Professor Linda Pfeiffer says the Buraligim Weiber program is proving very popular with students.
“This is the second year we’ve run the program for Gladstone West State School and we plan to expand the program to include up to five schools next year,” she says.
“The program was written to improve the literacy and numeracy, engagement and absenteeism of our Indigenous students in the Gladstone region.
“We picked Year 3 and 4 students as we saw a gap in opportunities for these students in the field of STEM.”
Staff of the rehabilitation centre provided students with an up close and personal session with turtles, and local native beekeepers were on hand to demonstrate the splitting of a hive to create two separate colonies.
The beach cleanup enabled the students to understand the role they play in waste production and what they can do to reduce this waste.
Assoc Prof Pfeiffer said the students participate in the program one day a week for 20 weeks over term three and four.
“We bus the children to STEM Central at the University and we go out on Country, we go on excursions such as this to Quoin Island, Police Creek and East Shores and we contextualise the science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts for the children for their local region.”