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Pia Wadjarri Artwork – Gurlgamarnu

In mid-September 2022, students from the Pia Wadjarri Remote Community School came on a week-long excursion to Perth. Facilitated through CSIRO’s STEM Professionals in Schools program, the visit included learning about geology, radio astronomy, space exploration, meteorites, planets, and supercomputers.

During their week in Perth the students attended the Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy (CIRA) to learn more about the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope. The MWA is located at the MRO on Wajarri country and not far from the students’ home at Pia.

The Pia students, accompanied by community members, had recently visited the MRO with CSIRO, and we were delighted with the opportunity to link the spider-like MWA antennas that they had seen at the site with CIRA, which operates the MWA telescope on behalf of an international consortium.

There is a long history of collaboration between CIRA and the Wajarri community in the field of Aboriginal artwork. To continue that connection, the students joined us in an artwork activity during their visit involving the decoration of an antenna, the same type used in the MWA. This artwork now sits at CIRA, with the Wajarri name for the MWA telescope, Gurlgamarnu, meaning “the ear that listens to the sky.”

MWA-style antenna decorated by students from the Pia Wadjarri Community School, 2022.
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