Professor Martin Van Kranendonk’s astrobiology field camp for indigenous students
In partnership with BHP, BQI Professor Martin Van Kranendonk and two UNSW PhD students, Bonnie Teece and Luke Steller, organised an overnight astrobiology field camp for indigenous students from Hedland Senior High School. The event, held in North-Western Australia in August 2019, was a chance for students to connect with Country and learn about the significance of the Pilbara region in the search for life on Mars. The camp overlapped with a research trip by NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists (see below), who were in the region studying stromatolite fossils that represent the oldest evidence of life on Earth.
The high school students were able to meet the NASA and ESA teams and chat informally over morning tea, where they learnt about the upcoming missions to Mars in 2020. The students also participated in a number of educational activities and took a fieldtrip out to see the ancient fossils first-hand. In the evening, UNSW PhD student Trevor Leeman presented a cultural astronomy talk.
In total, 16 students from years 7-10 attended the camp, along with 5 teachers. The students were all indigenous and part of the Follow The Dream program organised by the Polly Farmer Foundation.