The Community Citizenship Scholarships are awarded to CSIRO Staff Association members who undertake activities that support workers and disadvantaged people. Up to $3,000 is awarded each year and applications are now open.
Katherine Locock, a research scientist from CSIRO’s Manufacturing Flagship, is a recipient of the Staff Association’s Community Citizenship Scholarship. Her work is inspiring.
Katherine volunteers at Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville, Victoria. The school gathers young Aboriginal women from communities all across the country, and provides a unique place for learning that blends Aboriginal culture, values, spiritual beliefs and learning style with mainstream education.
Making science relevant
Katherine became involved with the College after she and her colleagues were looking at ways to build Indigenous Engagement within their Flagship, in order to create a more diverse and rich working environment.
“One of the important aspects of the CSIRO Indigenous Engagement Strategy is to encourage the participation and educational outcomes of Indigenous youth in science education,” Katherine said.
Once establishing a relationship with the college, the science in schools partnership was formalised early this year. Katherine volunteers at the school two to three days each term, acting as a mentor to the students; as well as helping support and develop the school’s science and agricultural programs.
“My main aim is to make science both relevant and accessible within the students’ cultural context,” Katherine says. “One of the awesome things about Worawa is that it blends aspects of both western and Indigenous knowledge. It’s such a privilege being a part of that.”
As well as sourcing additional resources and donations to help with their learning, Katherine develops hands-on classroom activities. With the current term being themed around climate and the weather, Katherine has been involved with classes that looked at local Indigenous understanding of the season of winter, and assisting the students with creating models of the local plants.
There is a focus during each visit on talking to the students about what it is like to be a scientist, and the important role that the CSIRO plays within Australia.
“We want the girls to see that science careers can be exciting, fun, and within their grasp if they have a passion for it,” Katherine said.
Creating unique opportunities
Katherine is also assisting in the establishment of a new agricultural venture at the school, which will focus on growing and selling native food products. The school has achieved funding for significant agricultural facilities for the site, and as well as providing new streams of income for the school the program will be a valuable development, business training and certification opportunity for the students.
Katherine hopes to remain involved in the program by assisting with the purchasing of native plants and arranging a working bee amongst her colleagues at CSIRO to help get them in the ground.
The funds from the Scholarship went towards the school’s ongoing science education program. “They can be used to purchase a new bit of science kit for their teaching lab, or even an excursion to CSIRO,” Katherine said.
Established in 2012, up to two Community Citizenship Scholarships worth $1,500 each are awarded each year. To find out more about the eligibility criteria and to apply, click here.