ICSM has developed this unique curriculum to foster scientific literacy and to promote knowledge of human evolution, a prerequisite for understanding humanity's common origins while appreciating the remarkable diversity of peoples around the world. The program is adaptable for a single-day participatory workshop on diversity, equity, and inclusion for adult learners, a week-long STEM summer camp for students, or for a series of seminars offered by a public library spread out over several weeks. It focuses on the paleoanthropological discoveries made by ICSM's Semliki Research Expedition at the African U.N. World Heritage site of Ishango (D.R. Congo). Fossils and stone tools show the presence of early hominins at Ishango over two million years ago close by the habitats of the chimpanzees and gorilla, humans' closest living primate relatives. Descendants of these early human ancestors built an early culture sustained by a constant supply of fish from the Semliki River, a headwater source of the Nile, and developed there the first known glimmers of mathematical thought.
Ishango became famous in 1959 through the discovery by Belgian geologist and archaeologist, Jean de Heinzelin, of the “Ishango Bone,” an intricately incised 25,000-year-old artifact thought to be the earliest evidence of mathematical thought in the world. It bears three columns of marks, one of which are the prime numbers between 10 and 20, and others so arranged as to represent the first known groupings of numbers into "bases." The artifact was the inspiration for the opening scene of the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey” and was the focus of a STEM European Union educational program sponsored by Belgium in 2006. The ICSM program has been developed in cooperation with the Royal Institute of Natural Sciences in Brussels, Belgium.
Individuals and groups interested in offering an Ishango program are invited to contact ICSM at firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.