The astronomical rise of Deadly Science
We had a yarn with Deadly Science founder Corey Tutt on the meteoric rise of his platform, the goals of the program and how by putting telescopes in the hands of Indigenous kids, we’re changing everyone’s lives.
For most of us, growing up with the advantage of having books and technological resources within our reach has always been a method to learn about the world around us, within minutes. We take books for granted through access via our own bookshelves at home, our schools, libraries and of course, the internet.
But not all communities around Australia are this lucky. Remote and rural Indigenous communities across the country are limited in their access to these resources, which in turn reduces learning capabilities – which flows on to long-term impacts.
Corey Tutt, an Aboriginal man from Kamilaroi country, is on a mission to change all this and has his sights set on building long-term, sustainable solutions in Indigenous communities that foster growth, resilience, problem-solving skills and curiosity: making future scientists.
“These kids have a right to have books and resources,” he said, highlighting how books can change the course of someone’s life forever. “They can now also be scientists”.
Now, the Australian Space Agency and Science & Technology Australia are throwing their support behind the movement Corey’s created called Deadly Science through partnerships with his organisation, helping to increase the presence of space-related content and learning in rural and remote communities through books, telescopes, and other dedicated resources.
Corey’s Deadly Science project has won support from high-profile scientists like Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith, Professor Brian Cox, and Dr. Karl, has experienced meteoric growth - which has to date distributed 9,000 books, 300 telescopes, and 80 foldscopes to over 70 schools around the country.
The organisation is currently in the process of becoming a registered charity and was started by Corey when he found out that some remote community schools across Australia had as little as 15 books in their libraries for the whole school.
At the time, Corey was working at the University of Sydney (and a second job) to help fund Deadly Science and gain its momentum. Since then, a GoFundMe campaign has been started – raising over $70,000 to help distribute books and science resources to Indigenous schools.
Along his journey, Corey has also attributed the rising success of Deadly Science through social media (and echoes this during our conversation) to the support his initiative has received from the wider community.
“We’ve got a Deadly Science family on board,” he mentions – acknowledging the benefits that this returns to the community. “Everyone who’s involved in Deadly Science – through sharing our material online, donating or whatever way – changes the way we see aboriginal children, which then, in turn, changes the beliefs these children have in themselves,”
Not even a global pandemic can slow Corey down – with book packages currently being created and distributed to remote communities. This is of course, like most things in the COVID-19 world, not without its challenges, especially ensuring that no further risks are introduced to vulnerable communities.
“My greatest achievement is that I have changed the way people see Aboriginal kids,” says Corey. “you’re now seeing young Aboriginal kids who have books in their hands and they’re smiling and learning – and that’s a big deal,” he says to me, as I self-reflect on this fact with agreement.
Prior to starting Deadly Science, Corey was a zookeeper and shearing Alpaca across Australia and New Zealand but has found his feet following his true passion. “24-months ago I was an animal technician trying to do my best, never really thought about what was next – but I’ve found my niche now and I want to keep going,” he said.
Now, he’s aiming at getting a copy of Bruce Pascoe’s acclaimed book, Dark Emu – which highlights a history of Indigenous science and agriculture – into every remote school across the country.
Indigenous Australians’ have been practicing astronomy for tens of thousands of years – and considered the first civilisation to do so, as supported by research. Records of astronomical events, similar to the recent dimming of Betelgeuse date back through songlines for thousands of years – with some findings indicating it predates ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian astronomy.
It’s these origins that Corey wants to tap into, to inspire Aboriginal kids “I want to increase the Deadly Science astronomy program to have more young people looking up at the night sky,” he said.
“When a kid looks through a telescope, I see that as an opportunity to create an idea, a seed that will hopefully sprout into a future of science interest and curiosity.”
The Deadly Science machine doesn’t want to stop there, with Corey discussing future plans of the project. “We’re currently at 20% of where we want to be in helping communities,” he said.
Citizen science programs, employment in local communities, and utilisation of 3D printing technology to resolve localised ‘on-the-ground’ problems is one way Deadly Science is thinking about empowering communities to build opportunities for young First Nations peoples.
Ultimately, Corey wants to neutralise the inequality in food attainment and increase food security for Indigenous communities by utilising technology and learning to produce local food, whilst learning about science.
“I want to make food cheaper and use technology to equalise the playing field, by passing on knowledge that will help communities grow their food with science resources and the tools to do it,” he said.
There are a number of ways the Australian space community can help Deadly Science achieve its goals. Donations (link below) are always the most efficient way of getting resources out to communities, through sharing social media content from Deadly Science also goes a long way in spreading awareness of such programs.
Look out also for the regular live events hosted on the Deadly Science Facebook page which features guest members of Indigenous community. This week, Thomas Major will be premiering is new book, ‘Finding our Heart’.
All images supplied and credited to Deadly Science.
Donate and support the Deadly Science movement here