With a shared mission to inspire a new generation of Indigenous scientists, leading chemical company BASF and Indigenous STEM charity ‘DeadlyScience’ have teamed up to donate 450 personalised science books to remote schools around Australia.
Each book is carefully selected to ensure young readers are educated about Australian culture, flora and fauna and native science. “It’s really important that we don’t just send any books. We want these kids to feel valued and get books that are new, books that excite the mind, books that tie back into our culture, books that all kids should read,” explained Corey Tutt, Founder of DeadlyScience.
Now thanks to the support of BASF Australia, a further 450 books have been donated to six remote schools in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. “The idea to partner with DeadlyScience came from one of our colleagues who had been reading about the amazing work Corey was doing, and saw that DeadlyScience and BASF Australia share a common goal to inspire a love of science from a young age,” said David Hawkins, Managing Director and Chairman of BASF Australia and New Zealand.
“We want the children who pick up these books to feel as excited about chemistry and science as we do, so each book contains a personal message of support from our to the young readers. It was very touching to read the messages, sharing why they love science and encouraging the kids to ask questions, experiment and try new things. By working with DeadlyScience, we hope to inspire a new generation of scientists who may one day come and work for a company like BASF,” added Hawkins.
Tutt, a proud Aboriginal (Kamilaroi) man and 2020 NSW young Australian of the Year nominee, founded DeadlyScience after becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of Indigenous representation in the Australian science community, spurred on by his own experience being discouraged from pursuing a career in science at a young age. “At school I was told to stick to a trade because I wasn’t smart enough to do my dream career, but I come from the first generation of scientists,” Tutt explains. “Bush medicines, the way we manage the land, ecology, farming, and the way we communicate and tell stories, it’s all science. You can’t be what you can’t see, so I want these kids to see that we’re already scientists.”
As a mentor who stays connected to the communities he supports, Tutt has seen first-hand the difference DeadlyScience has made to countless young lives through the 15,000 books donated to date. “The feedback has been tremendous across the board. For a lot of the kids that I have had an impact on it’s just from talking to them and treating them like a normal person. There’s no rocket science behind it, it’s just being a good person and believing in them.”
While Tutt has already transformed DeadlyScience from a side-project funded by his own part time job, to a national charity, he believes the best is yet to come. “Books do change lives and every time I send a box of books I think that today is going to be a better day for someone else. I think all kids, no matter what colour they are and where they come from, should have the ability to love something and have a passion, we just need to make it accessible. If I can show these kids that an Aboriginal guy from Dapto can overcome the odds and become someone who is a role model in STEM that inspires kids just like the Harry Butlers and Steve Irwins of the world inspired me, then that’s what makes it worth it.”