WA - SIDE: Saving a language one word at a time

Noorroo inmarran booroo.
Oola darrinan inbooloonirr. Gooljoo indanngoorr boorr boorr arrin ilma.

Bardi-Heal Country 2021

A joint Mathematics project between students at the One Arm Point Remote Community School in the Ardyaloon Community, and the Shenton College Deaf Education Centre in Perth has led to the creation of a board game to consolidate Mathematics concepts and help preserve the Bardi language spoken at Ardyaloon.

Language is vital to Aboriginal culture. If language is lost then knowledge of law, songs, dances, and bush tucker is lost. If young people do not speak their languages they will lose the knowledge the old people had. If people do not have their land and language, they will be lost. They will no longer know the names of the hills, or waterholes, the trees, or the animals. They will not know the dreaming stories for their country.

The Year 11 Foundation Mathematics students at Shenton College Deaf Education Centre were required to design a maths game or a task for younger students. With this in mind, their SIDE teacher, Raluca Gavriliu, who also teaches students at Ardyaloon, decided to use this opportunity to create connection between students in Perth and Ardyaloon and to meet the Mathematics requirements and assist in preserving the Bardi language.

The project allowed for students to connect and interact meaningfully despite being geographically isolated from one another. For nearly a whole term the students connected through Webex and shared online documents to collaborate and include features in the game that reflected the Mathematical concepts and the Bardi language.

An Aboriginal student from the Shenton College Deaf Education Centre called upon family members to assist with the artwork designs for the quiz and chance cards used as part of the game. The animal cards feature a photo of a mural located on the school grounds at One Arm Point. The hexagon shape was measured and designed by students who also wrote on the spaces. The object of this counter and two dice game is to move around the board and collect as many Bardi animal cards, each of which has its own point value. The names of the animals are in Bardi language. The words were provided by members of the Ardyaloon community. Students must answer a Mathematics question to collect an animal card. Six copies for the Boodoo game were created for use by the One Arm Point students.

You can see the engagement that the game has created in the photos from Raluca’s visit to the community recently. The game was played by lots of primary and SIDE secondary students. Shenton College Deaf Education Centre students had a to follow-up visit to SIDE to view the photos from Raluca’s trip and to meet with other teachers.

Many thanks to David Nolan from the SIDE Distribution Centre whose passion and hard work made possible the final creation of the game.