In the lead up to the announcement of Australia’s most prestigious science honours, the AM Eureka Prizes team sat down with some of this year's science stars.
Who: Corey Tutt, University of Sydney
Finalist: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion
What: Corey Tutt is a young Kamilaroi man whose love of science began as a child, when he gave impromptu science lessons to neighbourhood kids. Two years ago he set up Deadly Science to engage kids in remote communities in STEM. Since then he has distributed more than 11,000 books and 480 telescopes to a hundred schools across Australia, and regularly delivers virtual STEM lessons.
How did you feel when you heard you’d been selected as a 2020 Eureka Prizes finalist?
I was a bit teary. It was a proud moment for me and my family and a lovely surprise for all the Deadly Scientists that look up to me out there. For me, this is an opportunity to continue to inspire the next generation of Aboriginal scientists and to continue to be a role model for kids around the country.
Kids are the best scientists and what I have learnt over the past three years is that if you come from a remote community it shouldn't limit your chances to contribute, and to love, all things science.
Describe your journey into science.
My journey into science has been a bit different to most. I started as a child with a love of animals, now I am an adult with a love of discovery, asking life’s questions and finding solutions. Kids are the best scientists and what I have learnt over the past three years is that if you come from a remote community it shouldn't limit your chances to contribute, and to love, all things science.
What’s a typical day like for you?
There is no typical day in Deadly Science! There could be two or three Zoom sessions with Aboriginal communities, 10 to 15 phone calls, plus the posting out of resources. I often have emails from kids from the community writing to say hello or ask questions, and I always try and find time to respond and dig up an answer for them.
What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I am the luckiest man in the world because I get to share and explore both my culture and my love of science with mobs around Australia. I love to bring joy to people and change people’s perceptions of Aboriginal kids.
Who is your biggest science inspiration and why?
Probably my pop. He was no academic, but his real-world knowledge was second to none – he didn't get the formal opportunities that others got but he managed to give himself the essential tools. He inspired me by giving me the tools to learn, providing me with books and teaching me to appreciate the little things.
What does the next year hold for you and Deadly Science?
We are releasing a new Deadly Science website for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids where it will unlock the world of all things science. It will include built in ‘Zoom a Scientist’ where teachers and schools can select a scientist from whatever category they choose and book them in for a Zoom chat. It also includes platforms for teachers to exchange lesson plans.
We will be creating more teaching labs in remote communities and getting Deadly Scientists keen on growing food, creating and asking life's questions. I want to teach kids to connect modern science back to our old people. I look forward to continuing to see the impact Deadly Science has – and putting in more hard work and dedication.
Find Corey on Twitter @corey_tutt
Find Deadly Science on Twitter @deadlyscience
Listen to Corey’s episode of The Year that Made Me on Sunday Extra, ABC Radio National (March 2020) here
The 2020 AM Eureka Prizes winners will be announced during an interactive broadcast award show on Tuesday 24 November. Sign up to attend here
The Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion is presented by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources through the Inspiring Australia - Science Engagement Programme.