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The inaugural Indigenous STEM Awards were celebrated today at Gordonvale State High School near Cairns, Australia. They included educators and scientists who are leading efforts to introduce innovative STEM education programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, as well as Indigenous students who are charting a course for successful careers.

Gordonvale State High School won the school category in recognition of its deep commitment to teach STEM programs to its diverse student body. The school received $10,000 in prize money to further its STEM programs. Twenty-eight percent of the 850 students at Gordonvale State High School are Indigenous Australians.

The school taught CSIRO’s I2S2 program, which teaches Western and Indigenous sciences through hands-on inquiry based projects, to 192 students this year. The school says the program helped its students connect with science and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge of the natural world.

“The project that we have undertaken in I2S2 certainly brings the science curriculum to life and provides a sense of connectedness and belonging as it encompasses the cross-cultural dimensions of the Australian curriculum,” said Markus Honnef, the head of Science and Agriculture at Gordonvale State High School.

The Indigenous STEM Awards is part of the $28 million Indigenous STEM Education Project, funded by the BHP Billiton Foundation and delivered by CSIRO.

"In a world of innovation, fostering STEM education is essential and these awards are a critical component of our partnership as they celebrate the achievement of students, teachers, schools and professionals and encourage further participation in STEM," said Karen Wood, Chairman of the BHP Billiton Foundation.

"The students, teachers and entire community of Gordonvale State High School wholeheartedly deserve their award for their outstanding partnership work with their local community to increase participation in STEM, as well as the way they have engaged with the partnership elements such as I2S2."

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