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Remote Indigenous school combines science and theatre in livestreamed performance

Announcement posted by Good to Great Schools Australia 02 Sep 2021

Tune into a remote Indigenous primary school’s original theatre show, which tells the story of Albert Einstein’s E = mc2 on Friday 1- September.

E = mc² – The Musical is Good to Great Schools Australia’s innovative way to engage its students and their families in learning science.  

Incorporated into its explicit instruction-based Oz-e-science curriculum, E = mc² – The Musical has been created under the guidance of music and performing arts professionals.

The full 70-minute musical will be performed, for one night only, on Friday 10 September at 6:30 pm, in an outdoor amphitheatre in the Cape York community of Hope Vale and will also be live-streamed online.

All 130 students at the Cape York Aboriginal Australia Academy’s Hope Vale campus participate in the performance, from Prep to Grade 6. Teachers, parents and grandparents also take part, with support from professional performers.

Cape York Aboriginal Australian Academy teacher and peer coach Tamara Gibson is playing the role of Emilie du Chatelet, an 18th century whose work is central to our understanding of force, she said the musical and its family engagement aspect gives students a better understanding of science.  

It’s exciting how the curriculum gets parents, grandparents, uncles, aunties and other extended members of the family involved in education, particularly science,” said Ms Gibson.

“It gives students a better understanding of science and how the world evolves around us.  Education is the key and to learn through a musical helps students to grasp concepts quicker and easier,” said Ms Gibson.   

It's the world's most famous equation, E=Mc2, but what does it really mean?  It means "Energy equals mass times the speed of light squared,” said Ms Gibson.

The main characters are four children who use a time machine to travel across time and space to meet famous scientists. Students, teachers and family play the famous scientists, whose brilliant discoveries all led up to Einstein’s great breakthrough.

Characters in the musical include Einstein and his wife Mileva, physicist and chemist Michael Faraday, Emile du Chatelet (who successfully challenged Newton’s orthodoxy), chemists Antoine and Marie-Anne Lavoisier, physicist Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn (who discovered nuclear fission).  Other children play neutrons, protons and electrons.

The performance includes hip-hop, pop, choral music with one song sung in both English and the local Guugu Yimithirr language.

Good to Great Schools Australia Director of Arts Chris Kohn said that underlying the fun is a serious message that science belongs to every Australian child.

 “Science belongs to every Australian child – the work of Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and Stephen Hawking belongs to us all,” said Mr Kohn.

“The OECD’s PISA tests show a continuing decline in Australian students’ science results. There is a large gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous children in science. There is also a significant gap between boys and girls. Science education is an issue of national concern,” said Mr Kohn.  

“Good to Great Schools Australia is reorienting thinking about science education,” said Mr Kohn.

Oz-e-science lessons use rapid reviews to consolidate content, monitoring to check for understanding, and regular progress tests. Scientific inquiry skills are taught through investigations, experiments, and frequent engagement with the local environment. It meets all the science requirements of the Australian Curriculum,” he continued.

“Using our explicit instruction pedagogy, which strikes a balance between teacher-directed instruction, inquiry learning and the natural curiosity of students, the Oz-e-science curriculum, incorporates activities like theatre and field trips, makes students fall in love with knowledge, gain a sense of wonder about the universe, understand the potential of scientific endeavour, and make science a part of their life’s journey,” said Mr Kohn.