Thunderman a rival in STEAM showcase


Wilirriya Burarrwanga lifted Yirrkala School to second place in a culture meets technology contest.

The pilot NAIDOC Week Minecraft Education Challenge was a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) competition involving schools from nearly every state and territory.

It drew together Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people to explore and learn with technology, while making cultural connections.

The Yirrkala School student, 14, steered the only Territory entrant to answer the challenge question: “How might we build sustainable schools, cities, towns or communities in 2030 using Indigenous…STEAM?”

The response required an alternate world built using Minecraft software, a digitally created augmented reality character, and computer coding.

Wilirriya’s computer-built homeland icon Thunderman scored highly in the Best Augmented Reality Characterscategory.

Middle years’ teacher Kayti Denham said: “Our years 5 and 6 students learned about creating coded Minecraft worlds to act as environments for cultural storytelling, and how to make three-dimensional Augmented Reality characters to tell those stories.

“They have little familiarity with urban landscapes, but strong connections to their homelands, and the cultural stories that link their long history with beautiful coastal environments.

“Wilirriya designed and created a deity who holds a spear above his head and rolls over the seas with a roar.

“He tells the story using technology so other kids can learn its importance to the coastal people of his homeland.”

Competitors had to address a local issue, highlight new digital skills, and what they learned about Indigenous cultures.

Wilirriya Burarrwanga
Wilirriya Burarrwanga

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