BASF and DeadlyScience team up to inspire new generation of First Nations scientists
Chemical company BASF has teamed up with STEM charity DeadlyScience to donate 450 personalised science books to schools and early childhood programs in remote schools around Australia.
Each book includes a personalised message of inspiration from a BASF team member, with the books carefully selected to educate young readers on First Nations culture, native science and flora and fauna.
Corey Tutt, Founder of DeadlyScience, explained that there is far more to the program than just sending out new books.
“We want these kids to feel valued and get books that are new, books that excite the mind, books that tie back into our culture, books that all kids should read,” he explained.
Mr Tutt, a proud Aboriginal (Kamilaroi) man and 2020 NSW young Australian of the Year nominee, founded DeadlyScience after becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of Indigenous representation in the Australian science community, spurred on by his own experience being discouraged from pursuing a career in science at a young age.
“At school I was told to stick to a trade because I wasn’t smart enough to do my dream career, but I come from the first generation of scientists,” he said.
“Bush medicines, the way we manage the land, ecology, farming, and the way we communicate and tell stories, it’s all science. You can’t be what you can’t see, so I want these kids to see that we’re already scientists.”
Six remote sites in Western Australia and the Northern Territory were the recipients of the books, and the idea for BASF to partner with DeadlyScience was born when a BASF employee read about the work being done by Corey and his team.
“We want the children who pick up these books to feel as excited about chemistry and science as we do,” David Hawkins, Managing Director and Chairman of BASF Australia and New Zealand said.
The touching messages included with each book share with the children reading about why the writer loves science, and encourage the readers to ask questions, experiment and try new things.
By working with DeadlyScience, we hope to inspire a new generation of scientists who may one day come and work for a company like BASF,” Mr Hawkins added.
The DeadlyScience program has donated 15,000 books to date, with ‘tremendous’ feedback across the board about the difference the stories are making.
While Mr Tutt has already transformed DeadlyScience from a side-project funded by his own part time job, to a national charity, he believes the best is yet to come.
“Books do change lives and every time I send a box of books, I think that today is going to be a better day for someone else. I think all kids, no matter what colour they are and where they come from, should have the ability to love something and have a passion, we just need to make it accessible. If I can show these kids that an Aboriginal guy from Dapto can overcome the odds and become someone who is a role model in STEM that inspires kids just like the Harry Butlers and Steve Irwins of the world inspired me, then that’s what makes it worth it.”
The schools and early childhood settings receiving books from BASF and DeadlyScience are:
South Hedland Primary School – enrolment of 250 students, and additional attendance through the KindiLink program for First Nations children aged from birth to three years of age.
Dawul Remote Community School – The school is situated on Doon Doon Station, an Aboriginal owned cattle station of approximately one million acres (formerly Dunham River Station) and holds full time classes for children from Kindergarten to Year Six, as well as a popular program for birth to three year olds.
Pannawonica Primary School – offers programs from Kindergarten to Year 12 and works collaboratively with the local daycare centre as well as providing a Pre-Kindergarten Integration Program.
Arlparra – operating over five sites, Arlparra School also hosts an early childhood Family Learning Centre for birth to five year olds which is based at the high school. Teachers, senior staff and support staff provide most of the transport to and from each school, using a fleet of eight school vehicles and driving upwards of 500km a day on mostly unsealed roads.
Ngukurr Community Education Centre has a preschool and Childcare facilities.
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Thamarrurr Catholic College caters for children from preschool to year 12.