New funding expands STEM program in First Nations education

12 July 2023
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Primary school students on a Buraligim Weiber (Place of Learning) program trip to Quoin Island in 2022.

An innovative CQUniversity program designed to engage First Nations primary schoolers in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is set to increase its impact with support from the Palaszczuk Government’s Engaging Science Grants program.

CQUniversity’s Buraligim Weiber (Place of Learning) program will share in more than $700,000 in funding to help inspire more students to study STEM subjects, promote STEM careers and increase community awareness of science in Queensland.

First launched in 2021 by CQUniversity’s STEM Central team, Buraligim Weiber has supported the participation of First Nations students from the Gladstone region in various activities around STEM in a bid to improve engagement, literacy and school attendance.

The program aims to increase engagement with school and science, improve absenteeism and improve academic results for First Nations children.

STEM Central Lead Associate Professor Linda Pfeiffer said this new funding would make a significant contribution to the program’s future, allowing for the continuation and advancement of Buraligim Weiber initiatives for the next 12 months.

“The Buraligim Weiber program for Year 4 Indigenous students is being expanded and includes lessons around the land and the sea,” Associate Professor Pfeiffer said.

“Students experience first-hand science alongside experts in their fields, including First Nations peoples.

“They are given the opportunity to participate with citizen science groups who provide sessions on tackling the issue of sustainability, raising interest and awareness of STEM careers and to engage with scientists.”

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for Multicultural Affairs, The Honourable Leanne Linard said STEM is becoming increasingly important as the need for new and innovative solutions to address global issues continues to grow.

“We are committed to increasing participation in STEM-based activities across the state, particularly among our First Nations peoples, girls and women, and disadvantaged groups,” she said.

“I am very proud that more than 75 per cent of funding in this round of the Engaging Science Grants will go towards projects that target these under-represented groups.

“Scientific innovation and discovery are the building blocks of a sustainable and thriving society, and investing in STEM projects is an investment in our future.”

Since 2016, the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist has awarded over $3.2 million to 230 successful grant applicants.

The 2023 Engaging Science Grants provides 41 grants with total funding of $704,922. The Buraligim Weiber expansion will receive $18,700.

For the 2023 round, there was a focus on projects that sought to increase STEM participation in under-represented sectors such as First Nations peoples, and girls and women or disadvantaged groups.

A full list of successful recipients can be found at

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Associate Professor Linda Pfeiffer.