STEM, STEAM, and STONE: Research Seminar 17th April 2019


Articulated culturally situated percussion of a nucleus and an (an)isotropic solid, using fracture mechanics to create flake technology, informing alternative definitions of STEM. Ethnographic action research demonstrating how STEM, without the Arts, excludes Indigenous perspectives in the sciences because it omits  important cultural transactions.

(Knapping, why this is STEM and why it is critical to Indigenous inclusion that it should be STEAM).

Stone knapping is the very ancient art of producing sharp edged stone tools from a core using a hammer stone.  As stone tool creation is an Indigenous Technology (indeed, it is a technology common to ALL humans), it has the potential to include Indigenous content in STEM.  It is based on fracture mechanics in Physics, (and so a consideration of force,  percussion and levers), Technology, (it met and meets the need to create a tool to fill a gap in human capability), Engineering, (it has the dame design process as for any other engineered item), and it has Mathematical applications, (as with Physics, force, percussion and levers). 

In this session, Linda makes the argument for the inclusion of the Arts in STEM Education.  Linking Archaeology with Engineering, she demonstrates how the ‘design for purpose’ element of Engineering relates to stone tool production. In acknowledgement of an Indigenous context,  she asserts that as stone is curated by custodians, spiritual and economic transactions, as well as sustainability, resourcing and risk assessment, are all at play. Stone tool creation is not random, but the result of clear assessments of the economic, spiritual and physical potential as well as risk assessment of and limitations to raw materials by an acknowledged craftsperson. It is an example of STEAM. 

Stone tools, as with all engineered items, happen within a cultural context. Without the inclusion of the Arts, students are presented with a limited vision of design and an annulment of critical cultural elements.  STEM negates the scope for inclusion of Indigenous perspectives as it is reduces the creation of stone tools (and by implication all engineered items) to production: the creation of a thing for a purpose. This is the risk of STEM and the reward of STEAM.

Linda Westphalen is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Adelaide. 

She is the Associate Head of Learning and Teaching and an Education Specialist. She has previously worked as a school teacher. Her Ph.D. was in Aboriginal Women’s Autobiographical writing, exploring the texts of Alice Nannup and Ruby Langford Ginibi.  He teaching is mostly in diversity, inclusion, and cultures.

To contact Linda or discover more about her research:  

Date: 29th April 2019
Venue: SMaRTE Room 812, Level 8, Nexus Building, 10 Pulteney St, Adelaide
Time: 11am - 12pm. 

All Welcome

Tagged in research, STEAM, Indigenous Education