A new pilot program which will create real life STEM connections for students in the APY Lands is now underway, thanks to support from the Bibbulmun Fund.
Working closely with the Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Education Committee (PYEC), the pilot will deliver an adapted version of the successful STEMfooty program to more than 100 students in Amata, Kaltjiti, Pipalyatjara and Pukatja over the coming months.
STEMfooty aims to translate Australian kids' love of AFL into an appreciation, understanding, and passion for the science and mathematics underlying the sport.
Adelaide Crows Foundation educators travelled to the region last month to connect with principals, students and local leaders to learn more about their communities.
Members of the Adelaide Crows Foundation also up-skilled teachers so they could deliver the program, which combines classroom learning with hands-on experiences to demonstrating the natural connection between sport, science, and mathematics, over the coming months.
STEMfooty Manager Katie Gloede said the trip was a great opportunity to work alongside the community leaders so they could offer the best possible experience for the students.
“Kids in remote areas have a very different life experience to those in the city, so it was really important for us to make sure we are creating a program that is shaped for them and build their confidents in STEM,” Gloede said.
“We adapted the workbooks to include all Indigenous players, so they can connect their role models with what they are studying.
“Local football is a massive part of the community so instead of creating extension projects looking at AFL teams, the students will go to the game on the weekend and track the movement of their favourite local player or make player cards for players on their local team.
“We want to show the students that science and maths is all around them every day and hopefully inspire them to see it in other parts of their lives as well, so it become something relevant to them.
Adelaide’s first Indigenous player and former midfielder Eddie Hocking also joined the group on the trip and Gloede said his presence helped engage with the students.
“Eddie started the conversation with the PYC in 2019 about how we could work together when he worked for the Club,” Gloede said.
“He used to work in the region, so he had a lot of local connections and there were so many people who were excited to see him.
“We had fantastic support from Zibeon Fielding and Paul Malcolm from PYEC who connected us with the communities and schools, as well as Mark Ames from the Education Department.
“We felt embraced and accepted by the whole community – we can’t wait to go back later in the year. “
Foundation educators also distributed Adelaide Crows jumpers and other merchandise to the students, thanks to O’Neills.
Fregon Anangu teacher Courtney Rathgen from Fregon Anangu School said football was the perfect way to help get students excited about maths and science.
“Footy is such a huge part of the culture around here and they are way more engaged in activities they know about, or they can be involved with,” Rathgen said.
“A lot of the concepts or things that we talk about might be foreign, so with the language barrier and the fact they have never seen it before, it can lose their interest.
“Whereas if you can say ‘remember on the footy on Saturday’ and just relate it that way, they are a lot more engaged.
“Thank you to the Adelaide Crows Foundation and the Bibbulmun Foundation for coming out here and engaging the kids.”
The STEMfooty pilot will run in four schools for the next term, and STEMfooty educators will return later in the year to deliver the final unit.
The Bibbulmun Fund designs and delivers programs around entrepreneurship, education, numeracy and literacy for Indigenous students.
The Adelaide Football Club is committed to being an active participant in Australia’s reconciliation journey.
The Club’s Second Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan can be found here.