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Posted by SASTA

on 08/04/2024

Our former Aboriginal Community Support Officer’s (ACSO) native garden continues to grow thanks to the help of Hewett Primary School students and their science teacher Ms. Jenny.

Behind our science classroom, used to be a patch of dirt where weeds loved to thrive.  Our staff decided to turn the space into a ‘quiet zone’ for students to sit and talk during play time.  A meeting space for outdoor reading, science, and art lessons.  We built swirling benches made of natural materials with First Nation artwork on the side.

Our former ACSO was a passionate gardener and a fountain of knowledge on First Nation native plants.  He contacted local businesses and secured a variety of donated native seedlings for the new garden development.  Our First Nation students and student leaders helped him to plant them.  All the while listening to our ACSO teach using traditional methods how to plant, care and the use of these plants once they are fully established.

He often visited my science classes as a guest speaker.  Sharing his knowledge passed down from generation to generation from the First Scientists. The theme for National Science Week in 2021 was Food by Different Design.  Our ACSO recounted to my students, how the First Scientists used biological and engineering knowledge to create vessels like a pitchi, coolamon or a wallaby skin water carrier to transport food. He demonstrated the physics required for hunting tools such as a boomerang and woomera to successfully catch food. At the end of the lesson, our ACSO talked about the medicinal uses of native botanicals and made some delicious teas for the students to try.

By 2023 the plants in our Native Garden were thriving thanks to our former ACSO and his team of student helpers.  I decided to design whole-term units of work for Biological Science focusing on plants. He returned as a guest speaker to give my students from Reception to Year 6 a tour of the Native Garden.  Using traditional First Nation teaching techniques, he proudly shared his cultural knowledge on how to grow these botanicals and the medicinal and engineering uses for them. He worked collaboratively with me, during the planning phase of this lesson, to gain a greater understanding of Australian Curriculum. By doing so, our ACSO then also talked about Biological Science outcomes such as plant classification, life cycle, adaptations, and the needs for these plants to survive in their environment.

Sadly, our former ACSO has moved on to bigger and better things.  But his legacy at Hewett Primary School continues. During my science lessons and while I’m on duty, the students help me to water and maintain the Native Garden behind my science classroom.  Our new ACSO is looking forward to listening to our students communicate their own biological conceptual understandings about the Native Garden and we look forward to her sharing her own First Nation stories.

Jenny Woodcock
Science Teacher
Hewett Primary School

Jenny 5