Knowledge of fire

First Nations peoples utilise mathematics within the natural environment in the process of building a fire. Once the fire is sparked, the process involves using small twigs, building to larger sticks, then to branches. This involves estimation of the correct size, and sequencing to build the fire up rather than put the fire out. In this example, mathematical concepts of size and sequence were used in daily practices.

View these custodians who share their Indigenous Knowledges (IK) about connections to knowledge of fire. When considering the Goompi model, the IK contexts presented in the video represent the Reality part of the four-part model.

The video of IK in action enables educators to listen, view and reflect on holistic opportunities for teaching and learning in the context of cultures. It provides relevance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, allowing them real opportunities to see the connections between mathematics and their cultures. This empowers students to have a strong sense of pride and view mathematics through their own cultural lens.

These IK contexts serve as examples for educators to work within the Third Cultural Space with their own local communities and contextualise this knowledge from their perspectives.


View the accompanying Knowledge of fire poster that demonstrates mathematical experiences that can be customised to suit local contexts.

Use these ideas as a starting point to customise content for your local context.

© 2023 Commonwealth of Australia. These resources may be used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. These resources were created by Stronger Smarter Institute and Indigenous knowledge-holders.