In secondary and tertiary school science settings, there are few Australian programs that integrate Indigenous and western knowledge systems in STEM. We contend it is timely that we move toward pedagogical frameworks that include both Indigenous and western knowledge systems in the form of cross-cultural science. This paper discusses and realigns the way we view the theoretical space that exists between western and traditional Indigenous knowledge systems by focusing on Indigenous engineering principles of automation in the Budj Bim eel traps and Brewarrina fish traps. The eel traps at Budj Bim are a vast aquaculture network designed by Gunditjmara peoples to manage and automate the flow of eels and fish. The Brewarrina fish traps, devised by the Nyemba peoples, are estimated to be one of the oldest human technologies and similarly to the eel traps, worked to automate fish farming. We use a case study approach to show how these can be used as a contemporary STEM learning resource, with suggested learning activities. Highlighting the case studies’ use of automation is an impactful way of connecting Indigenous engineering to contemporary STEM debates about automation and engage students with Indigenous science as an ongoing and lived practice.

Period22 Jun 2022
Event typeConference
Conference number36
LocationBarossa Valley, Australia, South AustraliaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Water Environment education engineering