NZ Science Journal 2013

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Teacher print journal >> edition 132

New Zealand

Science Teacher

The oceans issue Primary science at Let’s talk about

scientific literacy


years of experiments


snails whales

Searching for extrasolar planets

A plastic ocean? A closer look at marine pollution

The sunfish story:

science communication at Te Papa

students reach for the

stars Inside

All things weird and wonderful: Take a look inside NIWA’s collection

New Zealand

Science Teacher Outgoing President’s Address

NZASE President’s Address

NZASE continues to provide professional support for science educators in New Zealand. 2012 was a busy and productive year for the executive members as they worked to meet the needs and concerns voiced by members. SciCon was held in Auckland in July and it was a very successful and enjoyable conference. The theme of the conference, Making Connections, certainly lived up to its name. Educators from around Aotearoa and overseas networked, renewed links, and shared experiences and ideas to support their work in science education. The 2014 SciCon will be held in Dunedin. At the conference, the 2012 Peter Spratt Medal was awarded to the very deserving Carolyn Haslam for her enthusiastic and committed support of science education for over 20 years. During the conference the executive held a forum where members were asked to discuss the objectives of NZASE. Following the conference, the questions posed during the forum were sent to all members so that they could also respond. The feedback received confirmed and clarified the needs and interests of the membership, and was important information for planning of the website and journal. Nick Reid was appointed as the new web manager and Nick started work towards getting the new website up and running in Jan/Feb 2013. The final issue of the New Zealand Science Teacher, in its old format, was published in October, and Lyn Nikoloff completed her contract as editor. Lyn’s contribution to the journal was acknowledged by the executive, along with a gift. APN Educational Media was appointed to develop and run the new electronic online format of the journal and also the yearly print version. The executive are confident that the new format will better meet the needs and interests of the membership. Thanks must go to Matt Balm for his ideas and commitment to seeing this come to fruition. Kate Fowler has continued to work efficiently and professionally as the NZASE administrator. I would like to thank the Executive Committee and the Council for their dedication to supporting the objectives of the association and in helping to develop a futurefocused and dynamic website and journal, which I am sure will be well received by our membership.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Steven Sexton, and at the July Annual General Meeting held in Wellington, I took over from Sabina Cleary as president of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators (NZASE). Currently, I work for the University of Otago’s College of Education in its Primary Education programme. The past two years under Sabina’s leadership has seen some dramatic changes to NZASE. Our website ( has been redeveloped and updated. In addition, the New Zealand Science Teacher journal ( has also been redeveloped to be an online publication with a yearly printed edition. Sabina has seen NZASE through these changes and left NZASE in a much better state than when she took over as president. I will endeavour to do my best to try to follow her example. Science and science education has been in the media attention over the last few years, with Sir Peter Gluckman’s (2011) Looking ahead: Science education for the twenty-first century and his follow-up report in 2013 Report of National Science Challenges Panel. While this may help to raise the wider public’s awareness of science and the importance of science education to New Zealand’s future, NZASE is here to help support those in New Zealand schools. Even with all the changes that have occurred over the past two years, some things remain the same, namely the first three objects of the NZASE which are: »» To promote the development of science education throughout New Zealand. »» To facilitate liaison and cooperation between regional science teachers’ associations. »» To assist regional science teachers’ associations in their efforts to sustain and expand their activities. NZASE as a parent organisation is only as strong as its subject associations and regional branches. I see as one of my main goals over the next two years to help strengthen all of NZASE’s subject associations and regional branches. Some subject associations have been and are running strongly and provide a great deal of support to their members. Similarly, some regional branches have a long history of local support. There are, however, subject associations and regional branches that are very new and still trying to get off the ground. The changes made so far to update and redevelop NZASE are raising issues that NZASE is going to work to address so that it is able to keep its commitment to its objectives. I look forward to the next two years as president and hope to be able to say in 2015 that I was able to do half as much for NZASE as Sabina did in her term.

Naku noa, na Sabina

Sabina Cleary

This is a shortened version of a longer letter from Sabina – please visit to read the full report.

Respectfully yours,

Steven S. Sexton New Zealand Science Teacher >>


New Zealand

Science Welcome to your new-look New Zealand Science Teacher journal

The oceans issue

Kia ora koutou, and welcome. The publication you hold in your hands is the result of months of meeting with teachers and scientists, talking, thinking, and writing. Earlier this year, Sir Peter Gluckman, chief science adviser to the Prime Minister, chaired the panel that drew up a short-list of scientific challenges facing New Zealand. The list aims to provide a cohesive focus for the science sector on large and complex issues that affect our country, from health science to environmental research. But an extra focus, identified as the ‘Science and Society challenge’ aims to address issues of science understanding and knowledge in New Zealand. Naturally, science teachers play an integral part in this implementation. Shortly after the challenges were announced to the media, I interviewed Rick Marshall, Senior Communications Adviser at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. He agreed that science education was crucial to any future success of the challenges. “The way children learn about science shapes their future thinking about it and affects whether they decide to have science careers,” he said. It is with this in mind that New Zealand Science Teacher aims to inspire and inform science teachers around the country. This particular issue has a focus on oceans and sustainability. New Zealanders have a deep affinity for their coastline and environment, and we’ve gathered articles about sea pollution, ocean currents, and Te Papa’s infamous sunfish science, among others. This annual publication accompanies a sparkling new website, where you can keep up with the latest science news from around the world as well as happenings in local science education. Like the journal, the website aims to offer a wide range of thoughtprovoking science material, from academic articles about science or education or both, to classroom stories and opinion pieces. On the home page, you’ll notice a Twitter feed – please join in the conversation if you are so inclined. New Zealand Science Teacher also has a presence on Pinterest, which is like a virtual pin-board of links to interesting articles, videos, book reviews, and more to inspire you in your work. The boards range from different subject areas, to teaching levels. You can join Pinterest and make your own pin-boards or simply browse the NZST collection and marvel at the ever-expanding online world of science treasure. Thank you kindly to all the contributors to this publication and also to Matt Balm and the rest of the tireless New Zealand Association of Science Educators editorial panel for guiding the project. I hope you will enjoy and be inspired by the wide range of science articles we’ve gathered together here. Have a fantastic summer. Nga mihi nui,

Melissa Wastney 2 >> New Zealand Science Teacher

Contents 1 2 12

15 22 26 30 36 38 39

NZASE presidents’ address Outgoing: Sabina Cleary, Incoming: Steven Sexton.

Welcome To your new-look New Zealand Science Teacher.

Linking the world’s oceans he Antarctic Circumpolar current reaches from the T surface to the bottom of the ocean.

Could your school have a stem emphasis? ultivating a fascination with our world through C STEM experiences.

Julian’s Rock and Ice blog GNS outreach site is a geological treasure.

The flipped textbook project Boost biology with e-learning.

Education through science et inspired to provide positive learning opportunities G at primary school.

Science Academy promotes best practice romoting exchange and encouragement in primary P science teaching.

Reef and Rainforest trip Biology students head off on a rich learning experience.

New Zealand’s sustainable energy I deas for introducing this topic into your science teaching.

Level 1, Saatchi & Saatchi Building 101-103 Courtenay Place Wellington 6011 New Zealand PO Box 200, Wellington 6140 T: 04 471 1600 | F: 04 471 1080 © 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be copied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher.

40 41 42

ecoDriver project motivates students roject simultaneously engages students with P sustainability concepts and saves electricity.

Science on Ice rom echinoderms to ocean acidification: students F experience science at the South Pole.




Meet marine biologist Andrew Baxter From snails to whales: Celebrate Sea Week 2014. TEACHER PRINT JOURNAL >> EDITION 132





ustomary Ma- ori knowledge and Western science. C



ounamu game encourages P 44 community discussion




The science of te reo Ma- ori ne discussion to come out of Pounamu: What if all O science was taught in te reo Ma- ori?

Towards a deeper understanding of biodiversity hat happens when an art teacher and a science W teacher work together?

The potential of CoRes for new science teachers ow early-career teachers can benefit from working with H experts through Content Representation design.

Online platforms add spark to

58 science teaching

Q&A with chemistry teacher Tristan Riley.



Engaging primary students through science action research rom blue eggs to cow pats: building a passion for F science in a small rural school.

NZASE Standing Committee reports 2013 reports from STANZ, ESSE, NZAPSE and NZIC.


Let’s talk about scientific literacy The leadership opportunities lie with science teachers.


From innovative insulation to kelp farming, Pounamu


Coastline inspires wonder Inquiry science at Kilbirnie School has students looking locally.





A plastic ocean?


A closer look at marine pollution



The sunfish story:

science communication at Te Papa


The sunfish story Sunny Bill shines at Te Papa and presents learning opportunities.



Our plastic ocean A closer look at The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and our own marine pollution.

The continued search for extrasolar planets Citizen astronomy provides rich opportunities for our students.

A life devoted to science education Kay Memmott looks back on 55 years as a science technician.


Students reach for the stars Celebrating New Zealand’s first delegation to the Astronomy Olympiad in Greece.


Meet some unusual neighbours Inspecting the weird and wonderful with NIWA’s ‘Critter of the Week’ project.

New Zealand science teacher ISSUE 132 ISSN: 0110-7801

New Zealand Science Teacher is published by APN Educational Media on behalf of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators. JOURNALIST: Melissa Wastney (@NZScienceTeachr) T: 04 915 9784 | E: Production: Barbara la Grange & Aaron Morey Editor-in-chief: Shane Cummings (@ShaneJCummings) General manager & Publisher: Bronwen Wilkins Errors and omissions: Whilst the publishers have attempted to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information, no responsibility can be accepted by the publishers for any errors or omissions.

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 3

EDUCATION & SOCIETY science education & the environment

an – creating an unholy continent of sludge in the oce We use plastic every day, but this addiction is landers. TNEY discovers what it has to do with New Zea the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. MELISSA WAS ge Patch; an assortment of plastic bottles that

: Sustainable Coastlines; the Great Pacific Garba

L-R: Plastic beads found on a NZ coastline Image


>> New Zealand Science Teacher

end up in our oceans.

Our plastic oceans


he Great Pacific Garbage Patch, sometimes known as the Pacific trash vortex, is thought to be six times the size of France. It’s a swirling mass of discarded plastic bags and bottles; a thick soup of plastic gloop in the north east of the Pacific Ocean. It’s the world’s biggest landfill, and it is ever increasing in size. Because it’s confined within the North Pacific gyre*, which is made up of large, slowly rotating ocean currents, it rotates around an area between Hawaii and the North America–mainland. The area is an oceanic desert, filled with tiny phytoplankton but few big fish or mammals. Due to its lack of large fish, fishermen and sailors rarely travel through the gyre. The debris can eventually escape. As wave action and ultraviolet light break it down into smaller pieces, it becomes weighted down with microbial Can you think of other places biofilms* and sinks. Once it’s in deeper where you’ve seen waste plastic? waters, it can be transported by deep currents out of the gyre and away from Does plastic ever really ‘go away’? the patch. Describe how your household deals with While the Great Pacific Garbage rubbish and plastic waste. Patch has garnered worldwide attention What steps can we take via the media, it’s not the only trash to use less plastic in our vortex on Earth. everyday lives? In all, there are thought to be five major oceanic gyres, complete with swirling plastic: The Indian Ocean, North Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, and the South Pacific gyre. Visit for a good breakdown of these. This video, of Maximenko’s plastic pollution growth model, describes the plastic pollution spread

Possible questions to use in the classroom: When you discard plastic, where does it go?

How bad is this problem, and what can we do about it? While some kinds of plastic degrade over time, none of it ever completely breaks down. Some of the plastic items in the ocean end up in the bodies of marine wildlife, who mistake them for food. Turtles, for example, occasionally mistake plastic bags for their food staple of jellyfish and suffocate. Dead albatrosses have been found in Hawaii with bellies full of cigarette lighters and bottle caps. Plastic items are considered to cause more marine animals’ deaths than oil spills, heavy metals, or other toxic materials.

As plastic particles circulate through the sea, they become ‘sponges’ for water-borne contaminants such as PCBs, DDT, other pesticides, PAHs, and many other hydrocarbons. These toxic pollutants, known as ‘POPs’ (persistent organic pollutants), are absorbed in high concentration by plastic pollution in the marine environment. These toxins then enter the marine food chain, with potentially dire consequences for all living things. A scientific study conducted in 2012 revealed that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is also a breeding ground for a water parasite called Halobates sericeus. Not only has the mass of plastic increased by over 100 times in the past 40 years, but it has led to changes in the natural habitat of animals such as the marine insect Halobates sericeus. These ‘sea skaters’ or ‘water striders’ – relatives of pond water skaters – inhabit water surfaces and lay their eggs on fingernail sized pieces of plastic. These insects may be a food source for crabs and sea-birds, but they’re also a predator in their own right, feeding on plankton and fish eggs, and they threaten to upset the fine balance of the ocean’s ecosystem.

Why doesn’t plastic biodegrade? Plastic does degrade* into small pieces until it’s no longer visible to the human eye. This happens very slowly in the ocean, because of the cold and dark conditions. But most plastic does not mineralise*. We call the small pieces of broken-down plastic ‘microplastics’ if they are smaller than 5mm long. The answer to this can be found in the chemical make-up of plastic. Most plastic is manufactured from petroleum, which is itself the end product of once-living organisms, but a crucial manufacturing step turns this biomaterial into something unrecognised by the organisms that normally break organic matter down. When propylene is heated up in the presence of a catalyst, individual chemical units of the material link together by forming strong carboncarbon bonds with each other. These polymer chains are called polypropylene. >> New Zealand Science Teacher >>


EDUCATION & SOCIETY science education & the environment

Here are some common types of plastic:

Captain Charles Moore Charles J. Moore is an oceanographer and roving boat captain who first brought the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to international attention. He was sailing to southern California in 1997 when he first caught sight of plastic rubbish floating in the North Pacific Gyre. Since then, he has written articles about the extent of ocean pollution, and its effect on sea life. Charles Moore is the founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, California. This non-profit organisation works to conduct thorough research on ocean pollution, and facilitates a wide variety of education programmes.

New Zealand school children help with a coast clean-up project. Image: Sustainable Coastlines

Whether it’s an old tyre or a lolly wrapper, everything makes its way to the sea eventually

<< Organisms that decompose organic matter have evolved over billions of years to attack certain types of bonds that are common in nature, but have no metabolic pathways to break down carbon-carbon bonds. While it is possible to make plastic from different bonds such as peptides, which link carbon to nitrogen, and are commonly found in nature, these alternative types of plastic have a very short shelf life, or are not as strong and stable as the carbon-carbon types of plastic.

A personal encounter with the Great Pacific Garbage patch As someone who works to clean up Auckland harbour, Hayden Smith has seen first-hand the effects of plastic ocean pollution. Hayden’s company, Hayden’s Harbour Clean Ltd, is a contractor to the Auckland Council’s Watercare Harbour Clean Up Trust, which removes debris from local waterways. He’s seen what happens to plastic that travels further, too. In 2009, Hayden chartered a Billabong sea plane and flew to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from Hawaii. The trip was a personal expedition. He says the plan was to fly into the middle of the patch, then board a marine research vessel and meet the man who is said to have discovered the patch, Charles Moore (see box). That never happened “because of the confused swells, the plane touched down on the patch but didn’t stop,” says Hayden.

What can young people do? »» Join a ‘coast clean-up’: »» Take care of a local stream: oceans/kids/reducing-pollution.html#4 »» ‘Adopt-a-stream’: »» Think about the plastic you use and how this can be reduced as much as possible: reducing-pollution.html »» Make sure only rain goes down the stormwater drain: html#3 »» Befriend your native fish species: »» Get involved in the next Sea Week:


>> New Zealand Science Teacher

Acronym Full name

Common example


Polyethylene terephthalate

soft drink bottles


Polyester (yes, it’s actually a plastic!)

polyester clothing



plastic bags


High-density polyethylene

detergent bottles


Polyvinyl chloride

plumbing pipes



drinking straws


Polyamide (aka nylon)




take-away food containers

Nevertheless, the extent of the pollution was made clear, and in retrospect, Hayden says the trip was a success because he was able to really explore the environment of the patch. “We saw huge convergence zones, which bring any ocean debris towards the surface, stretch from horizon to horizon, and these zones were lined up one after another after another. “With the plane, we were able to fly along the convergence zones with the sun behind us, which gave us an amazing outlook.” From what he saw, Hayden estimates there were 70 pieces of plastic per square metre – “and that’s not counting all the pieces smaller than 5mm to 10mm”. There were many photodegraded bits of plastic, which were breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. Particular pieces of plastic he remembers include a green plastic coat hanger and a yellow clamshell burger container. “Most of the plastic had broken down and was therefore more difficult to recognise, but those two pieces were very memorable because they hadn’t broken down at all. “From my experience working in the harbour, there are definitely some types of plastic that don’t break down as readily as other types. Sometimes if you try to pick up a plastic bottle or a bag, it just crumbles into a thousand little pieces, but they never really go away.”

Interesting further reading: »» 5 gyres is a site that give good background information on the problem. »» This Greenpeace site gives a good summary of this problem. The site has a good animation of the Pacific gyre currents showing the rotating currents. »» This Wikipedia site talks about the catamaran that is made completely out of recycled plastic bottles. »» Rubber ducks in the ocean: This is a fascinating story about rubber ducks, and other plastic toys, that fell off a boat into the sea near Taiwan but ended up being washed up on beaches from South America to Scotland! »» Seacleaners are trying to remove plastic rubbish from around the Waitemata Harbour. »» Sustainable Coastlines are also trying to clean up the New Zealand coast and nearby ocean. »» Plastics NZ tell you everything you wanted to know about plastics, including the recycling of them. wasteandrecyclingfacts

Hope on the horizon

A community coastal clean up. Image: Sustainable Coastlines

What about recycling? »» What do the numbers on the bottom of plastic containers mean? This is a good overview: »» How is plastic recycled in New Zealand? Read about what happens to the different types here: »» In some countries, waste plastics are burned to recover the energy from them as an alternative fuel source. Because plastic is derived from natural gas and petroleum refining processes, they can be a valuable fuel source in some countries. »» Is there any legislation to regulate the use of plastic packaging in NZ? There is nothing official, but in 2004, a Packaging Accord was established between industry and central government, which is in turn endorsed by local government, with the aim of reducing packaging waste. There is also a Code of Practice for Consumer Goods Packaging and an independent system for performance monitoring and handling complaints procedures. »» A voluntary industry plan is the NZ Plastics Sustainability Initiative. This has a focus on sustainability in the NZ plastic sector. »» Read about Dunedin woman Ann Dennison, who has eliminated plastic from her everyday life Special terms


(as in the ocean) A ringlike system of ocean currents that rotate clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Many of the biggest, most persistent gyres have become collection sites for floating long-lived trash – especially plastic.


A gooey community of different types of microbes that essentially glues itself to some solid surface. Living in a biofilm is one way microbes protect themselves from stressful agents (such as poisons) in their environment.


The way some plastics break down with exposure to natural conditions, such as light, water, etc.

Hayden says the black bases of Coke bottles that were in circulation around 25–30 years ago are still being found in the harbour in good condition, highlighting their long life. He says the main purpose of his journey to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch was to witness the extent of the pollution in the area but also to highlight the work he and his team are doing closer to home. “We’re cleaning it up ‘at source’ if you believe cities are the place where the most pollution is happening. Obviously, you could pinpoint the oil wells where the plastic material first comes from, but basically what’s feeding the gyres is plastic littering from towns and cities.”

Starting locally It’s not just the Pacific Garbage Patch that contains plastic litter. A year-long study of Auckland’s storm-water discharges found that each day 28,000 pieces of litter, much of it plastic, ended up in the Waitemata–Harbour. Since its inception in December 2002, the Watercare Harbour Clean Up Trust has removed more than 1.9 million litres of waste. The trust estimates that approximately 80 to 90 per cent of the litter that its contractors remove is plastic – mainly bottles and their lids, and bags. This litter creates a significant hazard for birds and marine and freshwater fish species and causes direct damage to the environment through leaching and degradation of habitats. Polystyrene from construction sites is also a problem. This usually comes from commercial and industrial sites near waterways or from unsecured rubbish loads on trucks and other vehicles. Hayden says even the machine-dispensed parking tickets in cities have a plastic coating, and many of these can be found in the harbour. “It’s often the little things you don’t think about. A driver might wind their window down and the ticket will be swept from the dashboard – eventually it ends up in the waterways,” he says. Whether it’s an old tyre or a lolly wrapper, everything makes its way to the sea eventually, says Hayden (you can hear Capt. Charles Moore talking about this on YouTube). As well as careless litter disposal, Hayden says animals ripping open rubbish bags and loads not being securely fastened on vehicles can all contribute to the problem. Since its formation, the trust’s contractors have removed over 25 million pieces of litter from Auckland’s waterways (this is an estimate based on an average of eight individual pieces of litter per litre collected).

Hayden says that since he’s been operating there has been a huge shift in people’s awareness. Over the past 10 years, many more New Zealanders are taking cloth bags to the supermarket and reusing other products. School education programmes and initiatives like ‘litter-free lunches’, whereby children bring their unwrapped food to school, are helping to create awareness of the issue. “We’ve also seen a huge increase in volunteers wanting to help us out. People email me every day wanting to help us in our work.” Another group working hard to clean up the coast is Sustainable Coastlines. This non-profit organisation consists of four staff and a network of passionate volunteers who coordinate and support large-scale coastal clean-up events. The group also facilitates educational and public awareness campaigns and conducts riparian planting projects in addition to supporting communities to organise their own clean-up events. Sustainable Coastline’s Sam Judd says his work spans all sectors of New Zealand society. “We’ve had two-year-olds helping us collect litter, and we’ve had 85-year-olds help us, too,” he laughs. “But most of our effort is focused on schools because they’re well-organised and we can effect the most behavioural change through young people.” In addition, the organisation works with offenders through the Department of Corrections, and it’s this work that has produced a remarkable set of data about coastline pollution, that you can view on their website. “The offenders are the ones who classify and record the data, so we can really see what’s going on out there,” says Sam. “The goal is to produce really good educational resources from the data we’ve collected. We want them to be as comprehensive and useful as possible.” Sam points out there are positive things about plastic as a material. It’s economical, it’s light, mouldable, and strong – but plastic is the main thing polluting the ocean. We need to be smarter about how we use it, he says. He highlights a metal water bottle with a hard plastic lid, which can be used thousands of times, as opposed to a clear plastic bottle that invariably ends up in landfill or the waterways. “Single-use plastic would have to be the main problem. Most of what we find on the coastline is this kind of plastic food packaging, and it almost always can be replaced by another product.” “If we’re going to use something that lasts forever, let’s use it in smart ways.” Hayden Smith says that while vast patches of ocean trash can horrify and fascinate, the focus must remain on what can be done here, in our daily lives. “It has to come back to what we do with our plastic waste here. We just really need to dispose of rubbish properly – it’s all of our responsibility to solve this problem.”  New Zealand Science Teacher >>




sunfish story: The science community was delighted when a very special fish took up residence at Te Papa.


Top: Te Papa scientists take a closer look at the sunfish. Above: Weighing the world’s heaviest bony fish. Photographer: Michael Hall © Te Papa

he arrival of a giant sunfish at Te Papa Tongarewa in May kicked off a wonderful science education opportunity. A rare sharp-tailed sunfish, Masterus lanceolutus, washed up on Omaha Beach, north of Auckland, in May this year. A group of surfers found the beached sunfish, still breathing, and tried to push it back out to sea to save it. Sadly, at the next low tide, the sunfish was found dead on the shore. An Auckland Museum scientist, Tom Trnski, was called to pick up the pristine specimen from the beach. After assessing the size of the fish (2.1 metres long and about the same from dorsal fin tip to anal fin tip), Tom knew he’d need a facility with large tanks to deal with a specimen this big.

Te Papa received a call from Tom and arranged for the fish to be transported to Wellington. Ruth Hendry from Te Papa says she and other scientists at the museum were very excited to hear the sunfish news. “Big thanks must go to Auckland Museum for sending us the specimen in great condition,” she says. The specimen was interesting to the museum’s scientists because little research is done into these rare creatures. The sunfish appeared to be young and uninjured, so initial questions to be considered by the researchers included: How did it die? How deep do sunfish live? When do they feed? What sex is it? What has it been eating? A live science event was held on August 13, 2013 to dissect the sunfish and share the process with the public via Twitter, Facebook, and a live blog.

Three- and four-year-olds got a taste for live science when they joined the sunfish science extravaganza, write REBECCA BROWNE and RUTH HENDRY of Te Papa.


e Papa’s ‘sunfish science extravaganza’ was a huge hit with adult science enthusiasts from across New Zealand – and worldwide! But could the same setup work for very young children? Mel Dash, one of Te Papa’s audience engagement team, had the inspired idea of inviting the three- and four-year-olds from Tai Tamariki Kindergarten to watch the sunfish science being live streamed near ‘The Void’ (a sculpture by New Zealand artists Bill Culbert and Ralph Hotere). As the sunfish science included a dissection of a fish dubbed ‘Sunny Bill’, Te Papa made sure


>> New Zealand Science Teacher

the kindergarten staff and tamariki (children) knew exactly what was involved. The tamariki excitedly made their way up to The Void where the live stream was playing. Any worries that they might not understand what was happening, or might get bored, were quickly and thoroughly dismissed. All the tamariki were entranced by what was happening. More importantly, they were learning. Here’s a picture from Max, 4 years old: Max says: “This is my sunfish, it’s going to get black inside because that is what the sunfish in the movie was. It eats jellyfish and

April’s sunfish drawing

Max’s sunfish drawing

Te Papa doctors found a bit in its teeth. The teeth are really sharp. “We looked at its lungs. This one was dead because it wasn’t in the ocean anymore. They cut it to look inside and there was the jellyfish prey!” Max is spot on – the scientists looked inside the sunfish’s mouth and stomach to find that it had been eating jellyfish. Here’s a picture from April, 4 years old: *April says: “This is a big black sunfish with a beak, like the squid but still different. It was really big and it was dead. You could name it, they found out it was a boy, I wanted to name him Rose. “They found jellyfish and a tongue. We looked at a video of a sunfish swimming in the water. They look lots different alive!”

Photos: Becs Thomas © Tai Tamariki

Can preschool children learn from live science?

There had been some concerns that the fish may have died after eating plastic at sea. However, scientists didn’t find any man-made debris but rather fresh jellyfish. Long jellyfish tentacles were found in the sunfish’s mouth and stomach. Its liver, however, which was revealed to be home to many parasites, showed signs of disease and was a probable cause of death. The scientists concluded the sunfish was probably male – and it needed a name, which is where Khandallah School’s Room 5 students stepped in. Te Papa held a competition to help decide the name. The winning entry: Sunny Bill.

The sunfish’s future Ruth says there are several options for the museum’s natural history galleries that are up for discussion. It’s not clear yet if the sunfish itself will be on public display but there is likely to be some sort of sunfish related educational exhibition. Sunny Bill will be stored whole in the tank room in an isopropyl alcohol solution for preservation, to allow further scientific research if necessary. Ruth encourages teachers to access the Te Papa livestream blog, various videos on YouTube (look for Te Papa Nature and Science playlist) and other blogs. These, in particular, are great places for students and teachers to ask questions and get responses from the Te Papa team.

What fantastic comparisons to make! The experience clearly gave tamariki the opportunity to apply and build upon their prior knowledge. Perhaps Sunny Bill wouldn’t mind Rose as a middle name? Feedback from Tai Tamariki teachers has been equally enthusiastic: “The tamariki came back with so much info. I was told about the jellyfish found in the stomach and teeth, that sunfish have a beak just like the giant squid, and that it was sooooo big (as big as ‘three kids holding hands long’ apparently). “Being able to ‘pop up’ and make new discoveries that can lead to many more learning opportunities reminds us of just how lucky we are to be in Te Papa!” ‘This article first appeared on the blog of Te Papa Tongawera Museum of New Zealand.’ 

NZ Curriculum Levels 1 and 2

Students will appreciate that scientists ask questions about our world that lead to investigations and that openmindedness is important because there may be more than one explanation. Going to places like Te Papa or interacting with real scientists in some way can be a way of meeting the intentions of this Nature of Science strand.

About the sunfish:

What did the scientists discover?

»» Sunfish have grey, rough skin that can get infested with lots of parasites. They use other fish and even birds to help eat the parasites and clean them from their skin. »» Sunfish are probably so named because of their flat shape. Their specific name, mola, is Latin for ‘millstone’. Their English name may also refer to the fish’s habit of ‘sunbathing’ or basking near the surface of the water. »» Sunfish don’t have tails. They swim by flapping their anal and dorsal fins, like oars. »» Sunfish are the heaviest bony fish species alive today. »» Common sunfish weigh around a metric tonne, on average, but the biggest sunfish caught weighed over two metric tonnes! »» The main predators to sunfish are sharks, killer whales, and sea lions. »» Despite their huge size, they can leap out of the water, and on rare occasions, have leapt into boats. »» They need to eat a lot of food to get so big, which is strange because they have a relatively small mouth for their size. »» Sunfish are not commonly eaten by humans, although they are considered a delicacy in some parts of Asia. However, they do comprise a large proportion of the bycatch in fisheries in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. »» Female sunfish can produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate. 

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 9

LEARNING IN SCIENCE science inquiry

The coastline as an inquiry subject The rocky shore is close to the heart of all children growing up on Wellington’s South Coast. Inquiry science this term at Kilbirnie School is focusing on coastlines and has already inspired children and their wha-nau to poke around in rock pools on the weekend. Year 6 teacher, Peter Dobson, says it’s brilliant to see the students get outside and physically explore their learning environment. “I heard from some parents that it was getting competitive down there … one student found an octopus in a rock pool and tried to keep it secret,” he laughs.

Coastline inspires wonder Inquiry science at Kilbirnie School has children exploring their own shores.

Why coastlines? While collaborating on a long-term plan, the school’s four senior syndicate teachers decided on ‘coastlines’ as their inquiry focus for this term, for various reasons. The first is its geographical relevance to the students who mostly live near the South Coast. The school is also close to marine facilities, such as the Island Bay Marine Education Centre, and the Victoria University Coastal Ecology Lab for further learning opportunities. Earlier in the year, the middle syndicate also learned about the coastline, and the junior classes are currently doing so, which has enabled some sharing of resources within the school. “Focusing on the same topic throughout the school works well because when we have ‘buddy’ activities (where an older child works one-on-one with a younger student), they can share learning from their different perspectives,” says Peter.

During the planning stage, the ‘coastlines’ theme was broken into four key understandings: »» Coastlines are used for a variety of reasons »» Lyall Bay has changed and continues to change »» Humans impact coastlines »» The coastline is home to special animals and plants. This stage was followed by mind-mapping within the individual classes to determine what the students already knew and what they wanted to learn. There was a wide variety amongst the students. Peter says the inquiry study became more dynamic after this point. “In my class, we did the tuning-in activity and talked about coastlines, and we ended up going down a route of classification. I started with some questions, and one of the things that came out was an interest in classifying the animals that lived there – for example, a

“I heard from some parents that it was getting competitive down there … one student found an octopus in a rock pool and tried to keep it secret”

Humans and especially their dogs all enjoy our coastlines.

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Getting started

starfish or crab – and talking about where these creatures fit in.” This led to a discussion about where different creatures fit in the ecology of the coastline.

Inquiry science “We try to keep it as studentdirected as possible. Of course, we do come up with the key understandings, and the initial idea, but that’s about as far as the teachers manipulate it. But you can sort of push it in a certain direction, as a teacher. “We’ve put together a booklet of activities for the children and they’re expected to complete a certain number of those by the end of the term. The children can choose the individual activities that interest them.” The activities involve the children doing field work, and because of the long time frame in which they must be completed, test time management skills. Within the inquiry, the children have chosen a mini-project as another focus for them. Some children wanted to study sharks, and this led to a wider discussion on the geography of the coastline, such as where does the coastline begin and end? Other children have chosen to look at rock pools or birds or how beaches are formed.

Potential challenges How does inquiry-based learning work in a class of mixed abilities? This challenge can be addressed by differentiating the learning outcomes for different students, says Peter. In addition, students of different strengths are sometimes paired together. In this way, they are learning about working collaboratively as well as exploring their science ideas. “A lot of the learning is done between students themselves rather than from me,” says Peter. “My first concern is making sure we’re keeping up with the kids and running with their ideas. The goal is to let the learning go in their direction and keep it engaging for Kilbirnie School students explore the rocks at Dorrie Leslie Park, Queens Drive, Lyall Bay, Wellington. Photos: Melissa Wastney

them.” “Once you’ve got the initial activities expressed, the learning can go in all sorts of directions.” Another challenge can be keeping all the students in a class fully engaged and working to their potential. “It can be difficult, to keep all the students involved, but if you are truly letting them work in the direction they want to, it’s less of a problem.” Natural curiosity also comes into play. “If I’m talking to one group of students about a particular topic or activity, there will be a lot of ears listening in, which then drives further discussion, so that’s always interesting.” He says the classroom environment can often be quite loud, but there is learning going on if you investigate what is really happening.

Science at Kilbirnie School Peter has a geology and geography degree and says he’s keen to bring more science into the curriculum at Kilbirnie. “It’s something we work really hard to keep up with here because of its importance. We don’t want to let it go,” he says. He concedes that science learning can sometimes be challenging at a primary school. This can be to do with resourcing, such as finding class sets of test tubes and other equipment. But it’s always worth the time invested. “I ran an extra science elective last year, and we did lots of experiments. I loved seeing kids getting so ‘into it’. They really love doing science with their hands.” Rest assured the rockpools of Wellington’s South Coast


The children of Room 10 at Kilbirnie School were given a scavenger hunt to complete at the beach. Here is what Arlo (age 10) found:

1Rubbery Something smooth: white seaweed 2Orange Something bumpy: rocks that are rough to touch

3A seagull’s Something soft: feather 4legs:AnSomeone’s animal with more than two pet dog 5Barnacles, Four different shaped shells: limpets, crabs, oysters 6A plastic Something man-made: bag with dog poo inside! 7water Something that has been in the a long time: Smooth sea glass

8Empty Something spikey or hairy: kina shell 9Mussel Something with joints: shells 10 Something that is hiding: A crab, under a rock 11 Something that is special to you. Why is it special? All the rocks are special. I love to climb and run on them. They also give me a good view out to sea.

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 11

CURRICULUM & LITERACY Planet Earth & Beyond

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current:

Linking the

The Antarctic Circumpolar Current reaches from the surface to the bottom of the ocean. JENNY POLLOCK and MIKE WILLIAMS describe its importance.


s New Zealanders, we tend to think that we are at the edge of the world, with nothing but windswept sea between us and Antarctica. We are very aware of our dynamic landscape, but often don’t realise that we are also in the middle of vast, restless oceans, through which major currents that control the world’s climate flow. An ocean current is like a huge river within the ocean, responsible for the large scale transport of ocean water and with it heat, salts, dissolved gases, nutrients and marine life. The primary driver of ocean circulation is solar radiation, which sets up the other drivers of the ocean, wind and density gradients. Surface currents, which are generally no deeper than 10% of the ocean’s depth, are driven by wind. Deep currents are driven by gradients in density, density being a function of salinity and temperature. The Earth’s spin, the Coriolis Effect, and the topography of the ocean floor strongly affect the direction in which currents flow. Just south of New Zealand, in the most inhospitable part of the world, flows an ocean current that completely circles the globe – the cold Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC). This is a huge current

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formed by persistently strong westerly winds that are nicknamed the roaring forties, furious fifties and screaming sixties by sailors. These winds transfer large amounts of momentum and energy to the current. The ACC flows eastward around Antarctica and connects the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. It transports 110 - 150 x 106 m3s-1 of water, where 1 x 106 m3s-1 is roughly equal to all the water flowing out of all world’s rivers. Unlike other major currents, the ACC reaches from the surface to the bottom of the ocean. It is as deep as 4000 metres and as wide as 2000 kilometres. It consists of a series of linked flows affected by underwater topography. The ocean floor is not flat and featureless, but contains similar landforms to those found above the surface. Mostly the ACC flows unimpeded, but underwater formations such as ridges and plateaus act as barriers that deflect and alter the flow. Key areas where the flow of the ACC is affected are the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica, the Kerguelen Plateau in the southern Indian Ocean and south of New Zealand along the Macquarie Ridge. When the current has to get through small gaps, as found in the Macquarie Ridge, it flows faster and downstream of the

Ridge collapses into a series of large eddies. These eddies are the oceanic equivalent of atmospheric weather systems with horizontal scales of hundreds of kilometres and vertical scales of hundreds of metres. These features can be seen by satellites because the warm eddies increase sea surface height, and cold eddies decrease it. By taking vertical profiles of the temperature and salinity of the ocean, oceanographers can map where water has flowed from. They do this by comparing the properties of the water of interest with the properties of different surface waters. The properties of each water mass are set in the formation region through a combination of surface heating or cooling, and evaporation or dilution from rain or snow. This process is fairly consistent from year to year. Once each water mass leaves the surface its properties remain constant apart from some slow mixing with neighbouring water masses. Because different water masses have different densities the denser ones flow under the lighter water masses. For example, the densest water masses are formed by surface conditions found in Antarctica that cause the water to become very cold and salty. Horizontal boundaries between water masses are called fronts. Across each front there are dramatic changes in the temperature and salinity over a relatively short

Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the Deep Western Boundary Currents. With permission Lionel Carter 2008 180° 150°W









30°E 0°W

distance. For example in the Southern Ocean, the Subantarctic Front is the boundary between salty, warm water to the north and a region of low salinity water which stretches to the Polar Front. South of the Polar Front the water masses are set by interaction with the cold atmosphere and sea ice. The circumpolar Subantarctic Front and the Polar Front are also important for the ACC, as they are associated with most of the ACC’s transport. The importance of these fronts for the currents is because the changes in temperature and salinity across the fronts set up the density gradients that drive ocean currents, particularly in the deep ocean. The ACC has layers according to the density of the water masses. The upper part has oxygen-poor water from all the oceans. The middle part is composed of a mixture of deep water from all oceans. The lower and deeper part contains water with high salinity from the Atlantic mixed with salty water from the Mediterranean Sea. Below that is the very cold dense water from the North Antarctic. As the different water masses circulate around Antarctica they mix with other water masses with similar density. The current is effectively mixing and then redistributing deep water from all the oceans.

The ACC has a profound influence on the world’s climate because it is part of the global thermohaline circulation, which is driven by the sinking of cold, dense water around Antarctica and the North Atlantic. This cold, dense water is mainly formed as a result of sea ice formation at the edges of Antarctica, because as sea ice forms by sea water freezing most of the salt is expelled as brine, increasing the density of the water below. Density increases further by mixing with deep saline waters that have risen to the surface south of the ACC. These waters lose heat to the atmosphere cooling even further. This very dense water sinks to the bottom of the ocean and flows northwards, joining with the ACC. Branching off the ACC Deep Western Boundary Currents (DWBC) carry this deep water into the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, travelling 2-5km below the surface. The largest of the DWBC flows eastwards past New Zealand, around the Campbell Plateau, past the Chatham Rise along the Kermadec trench and into the North Pacific. Eventually this water rises to near the surface and moves as a warm equatorial current to be joined by water from the Indian Ocean. It therefore increases in flow as it moves westward into the Atlantic Ocean. Then it becomes the Gulf Stream, losing heat

Key: ACC Antarctic Circumpolar Current DWBC Deep Western Boundary Current SAF South Antarctic Front SB Southern Boundary of the ACC

to the atmosphere as it moves northwards. This causes the density of the water to increase, sink and flow south in the lower part of the ocean to the Antarctic. If we could tag a small amount of water and follow its journey around the globe we would find that most of the time it is isolated in the dark and cold deep ocean. It would only appear on the surface about once every 600 years and then only in the Southern Ocean, south of the ACC. In the tropics and sub-tropics, a thin surface layer of warm, lighter water prevents deep water from coming to the surface but south of the ACC, this warm layer disappears and no longer stops the upward movement of deeper water. This process ventilates the ocean. When deep water reaches the surface, it gives up heat to the much colder atmosphere and picks up dissolved atmospheric gases, including carbon dioxide and oxygen. >>

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 13

CURRICULUM & LITERACY Planet Earth & Beyond

<< Continued from page 13

The Macquarie Ridge and the Campbell Plateau showing how the ACC and DWBC are diverted. With permission Lionel Carter 2008

The challenges for researchers Research on ocean circulation in the Southern Ocean is always going to be very difficult. Not only is the ocean stormy and good weather hard to come by but the area to cover is vast. Gathering meaningful data can be compared to trying to find out about a large river by analysing a couple of drops of water every few kilometres. Oceanographers therefore choose their methods and sites for gathering data very carefully. Because the ACC is linked to the three major oceans and is important in global ocean circulation and ocean climate it is essential that its flow is understood and monitored so that any changes can be detected. The Macquarie Ridge and the Campbell Plateau create a strategic marine junction and are one of the few places where the ACC deviates from its relentless circling of the globe. This ridge, effectively an underwater mountain range about 2000 – 3000m high, stretches for 1400 kilometres south towards Antarctica and has been formed where the Pacific Plate meets the Indo-Australian Plate. 14 >> New Zealand Science Teacher

Scientists have been astonished at the speed of the current which was found to be about 4km/hr. This is about the speed an adult would walk quickly and is very fast for an ocean current.

In 2007 NIWA scientists on board the research vessel Tangaroa dropped nine moorings containing metering instruments in two gaps or ‘choke points’ in the Macquarie Ridge through which the ACC squeezes. The moorings were over 3500m long and were anchored to the bottom of the ocean by old railway engine wheels. Current recording meters measured and recorded the speed and direction of the current at fixed positions under the surface with the intention of building up a picture of how the ACC flows through this Ridge. The data on the speed and volume of the ACC was collected continuously for a year and the moorings picked up in April 2008. Scientists have been astonished at the speed of the current which was found to be about 4km/hr. This is about the speed an adult would walk quickly and is very fast for an ocean current. Scientists also took temperature and salinity readings for the first time in this area since the 1960s, looking for climate-related changes. The data collected, although not completely analysed yet, will be used as a benchmark to compare with data from other places, such as from moorings in the Drake Passage. This will give an idea of how much water is flowing out into the Pacific and how much is staying to circulate around the Southern Ocean. The data will also be used to determine potential changes in circulation by measuring changes in salinity, temperature and density of the ocean. Such changes could have an as yet unknown effect on global climate as the thermohaline circulation is finely balanced. The energy and extent of the deep and shallow flows depend upon a balance between evaporation and fresh water supply, temperature distribution through the ocean, and wind patterns. Any or all of these factors may change as global warming continues. 

Jenny Pollock was 2008 New Zealand Science and Technology Fellow with NIWA Mike Williams is from NIWANational Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington.

Floats Temperature/salinity recorders Current metre Acoustic release Anchor

The moorings used to gather data at the Macquarie Ridge. With permission Dr Mike Williams and NIWA

The moorings being brought on board the Tangaroa. With permission Dr Mireille Consalvey and NIWA.


Authentic scientific experiences

Could your school have a STEM emphasis?

The way in which we provide young people with authentic STEM experiences can help them cultivate a fascination with their world and how it works, writes LINDSEY CONNOR. What is STEM? There are various descriptions of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education around the world. In the USA, it includes the fields of chemistry, computer and information technology science, engineering, geosciences, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physics, and STEM education and learning research. Differences in what is included in STEM arise due in part to different views of technology and the levels of integration of the subjects as they are combined (or not) in curricula design. In the international arena, technology tends to be synonymous with ICT. In New Zealand, we have a separate subject domain called ‘technology’ that includes design for innovation through technological practice, knowledge, and understanding about the nature of technology. Effective communication, including the use of information technology,

collaboration, problem-solving, creative and critical thinking skills are fundamental to STEM.

The need for emphasis on STEM Today, we face more complex challenges than we have ever faced before: a medical system that holds the promise of unlocking new cures and treatments, yet an obesity problem (amongst other health issues) that has escalated heart and vascular diseases amongst our young; a system of renewable energy production that powers our economy, yet many companies are downsizing due to the drive for efficiencies in human resourcing; issues related to stewardship of our land and water; threats to our biosecurity and privacy that exploit the very interconnectedness and openness so essential to our prosperity; and challenges in a global marketplace that link dairy farmers to tourists seeking the elusive 100% pure to China – a marketplace in which

we all share in opportunity, but which is also in crisis. No one can predict what new applications will be born from research: new medical treatments or new sources of efficient energy; new innovations in engineering; new technologies in electronics and information sharing; new building materials; new kinds of crops more resistant to heat and to drought; and many more. How we engage young people with authentic STEM experiences by connecting them with people working in these fields will help to propel their enthusiasm and excitement to develop a restless curiosity and fascination with the world and how it works. It may also assist them to see that participation in STEM education as a way of generating new ideas and can lead to careers that will contribute to the quality of life. Therefore, the development of STEM is more essential for our children, our people more generally, our prosperity, our security, >> New Zealand Science Teacher >> 15


Authentic scientific experiences

<< our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been before. The vision is to inspire young people through engaging in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education to develop their creativity, problem-solving, and employability skills to widen their choices and chances for future careers with potentially higher remuneration than unskilled work. A focus on STEM can also help people to be both informed about and able to engage fully in debate and make decisions about STEM-related social and ethical issues. Given the importance of STEM education for young people moving into careers, and for their lives more generally, there are associated agendas and strategies for improving STEM engagement through continuing professional development of teachers and research on learning in STEM contexts. Recently, Conner (2013) indicated that students can use their intellectual capacity to develop new knowledge as part of learning about science (technology, engineering, and mathematics). There is some evidence that this is more likely when students experience being scientists (or health workers/ technologists/engineers) through participating in meaningful activities (Bielaczyc, 2011; Linn et al., 2004). Engaging students in thinking about the future and their role in designing it provides promise of positive futures which is motivating.

Compelling drivers and opportunities 1. STEM as a focus for schools of the future who are predicted to become critical sites for promoting health, environmental vitality, student wellbeing, academic growth, and as connectors across their communities. 2. The opportunity to increase choices and chances for students to engage with STEM – related knowledge, skills, and practical experiences. 3. Opportunities for continuing staff professional development and developing on-going support for more teachers of STEM-related studies at all levels of the education system. 4. Opportunities for connections with neighbouring and contributing schools, as well as tertiary institutions and CRIs. 5. Highlight the importance for students to engage in authentic learning experiences that would be relevant to their academic learning, their personal interests, and to provide challenging experiences in workrelated situations (planning, design, building, engineering, innovative products, health promotion, allied health services, etc.) 6. Connections with businesses and potential employers. 7. Opportunities for networked learning, research and dissemination for all involved. 8. Sir Peter Gluckman’s (2010) report Inspired by Science called for the need to emphasise science (and technology) at years 7 and 8. This is an ideal time to profile an emphasis on STEM for students to have a focused experience at intermediate or High School. 16 >> New Zealand Science Teacher

A focus on STEM can help people to be both informed about and able to engage fully in debate and make decisions about STEM-related social and ethical issues.

9. An emphasis on STEM also presents an opportunity to align teacher professional learning directly with research on authentic learning in STEM contexts. Through partnerships with the tertiary institutions, teachers have opportunities to engage in targeted professional learning, inclusion in research projects and opportunities to enhance their teaching within a community of practice. 10. The most recent summary of PIRLS and TIMSS touched on some of the key findings for New Zealand, with both studies providing snapshots of, and trends in, student achievement. At best, the achievement in reading, mathematics, and science for New Zealand students as a whole, has remained static since 2000, with no positive shift in student achievement. In addition, the data from these studies indicated worrying signs of declining performance in middle primary school science and to a lesser extent mathematics. It is clear that continuing to do more of “the same” will not make a difference to student outcomes, We have to think and act differently if we are going to address the achievement gaps of Māori and Pasifika students in particular, but also if we are to raise the awareness knowledge and skills of learners to participate in STEM related careers. Internationally, there are groups of educational institutions at local and national levels in various countries that focus on STEM. For example, the goals of STEMNET (UK) are expressed as: 1. Ensuring that all young people, regardless of background, are encouraged to understand the excitement and importance

of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their lives, and the career opportunities to which the STEM subjects can lead. 2. Helping all schools and colleges across the UK understand the range of STEM Enhancement & Enrichment opportunities available to them and the benefits these can bring to everyone involved. 3. Encouraging businesses, organisations, and individuals wanting to support young people in STEM to target their efforts and resources in a way that will deliver the best results for them and young people. STEMNET uses local STEM ambassadors, STEM clubs, and an extended advisory network. Similar goals could be derived for intermediate and high schools or colleges in clusters of neighbouring and contributing schools in partnership with tertiary institutions. The development of this initiative could connect with these networks and potentially contribute to national and international developments in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education initiatives. In the USA, there is a STEM Education Coalition that represents all sectors of the technological workforce – from knowledge workers, to educators, to scientists, engineers, and technicians ( The participating organisations of the STEM Education Coalition are dedicated to ensuring quality STEM education at all levels. The coalition is made up of educational institutions (schools and tertiary institutions) and businesses who work together to promote the development and diversity of the STEM workforce pipeline. They have targeted initiatives to promote the inclusion of underrepresented minorities, women, veterans, and rural populations in STEM related occupations and to attract and retain talented and effective STEM subject master teachers and teacher specialists from all backgrounds. In this scenario, STEM acts as an attractor and incubator for innovation and careers development. With few natural resources at its disposal, Korea’s achievement in joining the ranks of the high-tech nations of the 21st century was due to the driving emphasis in schools on science and technology to develop its human resources. Korea has remained for years at the top in both the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) and the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) international comparative league tables, together with other educationally advanced countries. This rise in achievement is attributed to a strong social emphasis on the importance of investing in and highly valuing education at all levels, from personal to corporate to governmental, as well as to businesses recognizing their role in supporting

educational advancement (MEST/ KEDI, 2009). For example, the Samsung Institute of Technology (SSIT) is a company-run university in Korea offering bachelor’s degrees. Hyundai offers in-house classes and internet lectures to its employees so they can get the credits they need according to their position in the company. Since 1983, Korea has developed Special Purpose High Schools in science to educate students with an aptitude for the subject. These schools emphasise content and skills related to engineering, agriculture, marine and fisheries. The schools are given more autonomy in student selection and curriculum operation. Subsequently there have also been other Special Purpose High Schools developed in Korea for foreign language, international, physical education, and arts. In Singapore, through their ICT Ministry driven master plans beginning in 1997, IT infrastructure and teacher training was set up for all the schools in Singapore. Teachers were expected to acquire basic proficiencies in IT integration through training programmes run by the National Institute of Education (NIE). Every school was also provided with one IT assistant (Centre for Science, Development, and Media Studies, 2006). The emphasis has since been on integrating the use of IT for active learning of both pupils and teachers in their areas of curriculum development, instruction, and assessment as well as whole school improvement through evidence gathering and research. Pupils’ learning is assisted by in-school Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Summary In summary, there are huge opportunities for students and staff by identifying as a STEM school; for learning, work-related experiences by connecting with businesses and industry, extended opportunities through links with tertiary institutions and on-going professional learning. However, it would be wise to take a coherent approach that continually questions how proposed activities align with the schools’ goals. The learning for students and staff needs to enhance those outcomes that are valued by the community within which the students live. Momentum can be sustained through embedding inquiry and knowledge-building processes into the ‘core’ business of the school. For success, coherency needs to be established across teaching processes, new initiatives, and professional learning plans for teachers (Timperley, 2011). While a focus on STEM requires a concerted effort on specific STEMrelated learning areas, there also needs to be value placed on gaining knowledge and skills in other learning areas as they are very necessary for a holistic approach to any educational experience. 

Associate Professor Lindsey Conner is the director of the Science and Technology Education Research Hub at the University of Canterbury.

Strategies for implementation

Multiple strategies that target a coherent approach to STEM are likely to make more of a difference to students’ experiences than a “potted”, ad-hoc approach. Some of these can be gleaned from what has been done in other countries. The UK National Science Learning Centre (2012) white paper made the following seven recommendations related to STEM education:

Recruitment and retention of specialist teachers »» Commit to sustained funding of attractive bursaries for STEM graduates to train as teachers. »» Provide placements in schools and colleges for STEM undergraduates to encourage take-up of initial teacher training. »» Dedicate long term core funding for subject specific continuing professional development (CPD)/learning.

Career pathways »» Establish clearly defined, long term career pathways for teachers and technicians. »» Require STEM teachers to be engaged in subject specific professional learning throughout their careers. »» Recognise schools that enable STEM teachers to engage in subject specific professional learning and hold those that do not to account.

STEM teachers as STEM professionals »» Require STEM teachers to keep up-todate with developments in their fields. »» Support the provision of funded opportunities for partnership working, including placements, sabbaticals, or engagement in collaborative research with universities, business, and industry.

Primary science »»

Ensure every primary school has access to a teacher who has specialist training in primary science.

References »» Abdullah, A. (2006). The Malaysian Smart School Initiative: Deconstructing secondary education. Digital learning, 11(12), 6-8. »» Bielaczyc, K. (2011). When kids’ ideas come first. ReEd (Research in Education), Vol. 2, 5. Retrieved from OER-NIE-ReEd2_Final%20for%20Web.pdf 28 March, 2013. »» Centre for Science, Development and Media Studies (2006). »» Conner, L. (2013). Future trends for science education research. In B. Akpan (Ed.), Science Education: A global perspective: in press. Next Generation Education Publishers. »» Gluckman, P. (2010). Inspired by Science. A paper commissioned by the Royal Society and the Prime Minister’s Science Advisor. Wellington: NZCER. »» Linn, M. C., Clark, D. & Slotta, S. (2004). WISE design for knowledge integration. Science Education 87(4) 517-538.


Provide long term support for specialist training to develop primary teachers as leaders of science.

Accountability measures »» Incentivise schools and colleges to provide an enriched and enhanced STEM curriculum, including links with employers, quality practical experiences, and research in schools, in order to maximise positive impacts on pupil achievement. »» Ensure national assessment includes students’ abilities to solve problems, apply scientific principles and carry out practical work alongside their core bodies of knowledge.

Leadership and governance »» Encourage STEM teachers into strategic leadership roles in schools and colleges. »» Articulate clearly to STEM businesses the benefits of employees taking active roles in school and college governance. »» Require governors to monitor a range of accountability measures including quality of careers advice and progression routes to a full range of post-16 provision.

Context and careers »» Ensure all schools and colleges provide high quality, age-appropriate careers information and advice. »» Embed the applications and relevance of STEM throughout the curriculum, from primary to post-16. »» Include all post-16 routes in progression measures.

»» MEST (Ministry of Education, science and Technology) & KEDI (Korean Education Development Institute) (2009). Education in Korea: Secrets of an education powerhouse: 60 years of education in Korea. Challenges, achievements and the future. KEDI: Seoul, Korea. »» Ministry of Education (2012). Key findings from New Zealand’s participation in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 2010/11. »» National Science Learning Centre (2012). The future of STEM education: A National Science Learning Centre White Paper. National Science Learning Centre, University of York, York, UK. »» Timperley, H. (20011). Realizing the power of professional learning. Berkshire: Open University press, McGraw-Hill Education. New Zealand Science Teacher >> 17


Meet some of your


underwater neighbours

NIWA’s ‘Critter of the Week’ introduces us to a host of weird and wonderful creatures lurking beneath our waters.


he National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) Invertebrate Collection (NIC) holds specimens from almost all invertebrate phyla, with over 2100 holotypes and paratypes. This is the result of about half a century of marine taxonomic and biodiversity research in the New Zealand region, the South West Pacific, and the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Visitors come from around the world to the NIWA Invertebrate Collection to undertake research and work with thousands of special samples. At NIWA, there are facilities to store and categorise the large number of samples. The collection is always being added to through marine research programmes. ‘Critter of the Week’ is a science outreach project in which the public can learn more about a specific sea creature from the collection every week – see: A selection of these featured critters are making a special appearance in this ‘oceans’ issue of New Zealand Science Teacher. To see more, visit the NIWA Invertebrate Collection Facebook page.

Order Sepiolida bobtail squids

N Symplectella rowi glass sponges

This beautiful member of the glass sponges is endemic to New Zealand – it’s only found here, and is also the only member of its genus, Symplectella, known to be found in New Zealand. S. rowi was first named in 1924, by Arthur Dendy. You can see a copy of his original report, ‘Porifera. Part I. Non-Antarctic sponges. Natural History Report’, at Sponges of this sort are particularly interesting because of commensal relationships they have with a little shrimp that lives inside the network of passages in each sponge. In the case of S. rowi, the shrimp is Spongiaxius novaezealandiae, a member of a family of ghost shrimp, the Axiidae.

Left photo: Symplectella rowi. Middle photo: Symplectella rowi. Right photo: Symplectella rowi. Credit: Rob Stewart, Ocean Survey 20/20 Bay of Islands Coastal Biodiversity, Sediment and Seabed Habitat Project. 18 >> New Zealand Science Teacher

ew Zealand has about five species of bobtail squid (Order Sepiolida). These endearing little squids have large, almost-circular fins on each side of the mantle, giving rise to their other common name of Mickey Mouse squids. Some species are pelagic (live in the water column) over deep water, while others live on the sea floor and bury themselves into sandy sediments to hide from predators. There are three bottom-living species, all Sepioloidea species. One of them – Sepioloidea pacifica – grows to about 40mm mantle length, lives in shallow coastal water (to about 56m deep) and would make an excellent subject for a saltwater aquarium.

Top photo: The pelagic species Stoloteuthis maoria. Credit: Rob Stewart, NIWA, TAN1116 - Fisheries Oceanography Bottom photo: Sepioloidea sp. Credit: Rob Stewart, NIWA, TAN0906 Oceans Survey 20/20 Bay of Islands

Pinnoctopus cordiformis common octopus

Octopodes are some of the most intelligent of the invertebrates – for example, despite being colour blind, many octopus species are able to perform incredible acts of camouflage, changing their skin colour and even texture! Octopodes are divided into two main groups: the incirrate octopus (order Incirrata), which look like the common octopus, and the much more bizarre cirrate or ‘dumbo’ octopus (Suborder Cirrata). Growing to about 1.5m in total length (from the tip of the head to the tip of its longest tentacle), and up to 10kg in weight, this gorgeous critter is found around all around New Zealand (including the Chatham and Stewart Islands) and southern Australia, from the intertidal zone to about 300m depth. It’s very inquisitive, and because it lives in coastal areas, is often seen by divers. It’s also used widely in large public aquariums. Young common octopuses are often found in tidal rock pools, but they move out to deeper water as they mature.

All critter photographs and descriptions were provided by NIWA. Top photo: Pinnoctopus cordiformis. Credit: Darren Stevens Bottom photo: Pinnoctopus cordiformis on the Otago Shelf off Oamaru. Credit: DTIS, Biogenic Habitats on the Continental Shelf

Eplumula australiensis LEGGY CRAB


his leggy crab is a member of the family Latreilliidae or ‘longlegged crabs’. It’s found around southeastern Australia, the Bass Strait to southeast Queensland, and northern New Zealand. The colouring of its carapace varies from white to purplish, with red markings, and the crabs are quite small – males tend to be around 15mm long (carapace length), while females are a bit bigger at 19mm long. Eplumula australiensis lives in soft mud and sand, on the outer continental shelf and continental slopes at 54–330m. 

Top photo: Eplumula australiensis close-up. Credit: Peter Marriot, NIWA, Ocean Survey 20/20 Bay of Islands Coastal Biodiversity, Sediment and Seabed Habitat Project Bottom photo) Eplumula australiensis. Look at those legs! Credit: Rob Stewart, NIWA, Ocean Survey 20/20 Bay of Islands Coastal Biodiversity, Sediment and Seabed Habitat Project

What’s special about New Zealand’s coastal environment? New Zealand lies in the South West Pacific, a region that harbours one of the world’s highest species diversity in some marine invertebrate groups with a high proportion of globally unique species. This huge diversity is, amongst other things, related to the variable seafloor relief and New Zealand’s ancient geological history. New Zealand Science Teacher >> 19

CURRICULUM & LITERACY Planet Earth & Beyond

Students reach for the


Young astronomers go for gold at the Astronomy Olympiad

What does the Oly mpiad involve? The competition runs over five days and is broken into three phases:

✶✶ Phase 1 is the theoretical part. The students must solve 15 short problems and 2 long problems on astronomy and astrophysics (duration of exams: 5 hours). ✶✶ Phase 2 entails data analysis. Students are provided with real astronomy and astrophysics data and are required to solve 2D and 3D problems based solely on the data provided (duration of exams: 5 hours) ✶✶ Phase 3 is the observational part. Students are outside in the night time (unless it is cloudy with little visibility and they are then inside a planetarium) and are required to answer questions pertaining to constellations, stars, the planets, and the moon.


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our secondary students had a stellar time at the 7th International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) in August 2013. It was the first time a New Zealand team had competed in the Olympiad, but certainly not the last, all going well, says Kiwispace education coordinator Haritina Mogosanu. “I’ve dreamed about sending New Zealand students to this Olympiad for a long time, and finally this year we did it,” she says. The IAO is an internationally recognised astronomy event for secondary students (14–18 years old) that involves academic tests and learning opportunities. NZASE (New Zealand Science Teachers’ Association), received an invitation to attend the Olympiad from the organisers. Jenny Pollock, who runs the Earth and Space Science committee within NZASE passed it on to the Royal Astronomical Society. Although there was little time to organise sending a team, Haritina says they decided to take action. “We asked ourselves, what is it we can do to provide resources and take astronomy education forward in this country? “The Olympiad is such an interesting event, so we decided to go for it and send a team from New Zealand,” she says. “And so, with the support of the science community, we made it happen.” Trips to Greece don’t come cheaply. Fundraising was a group effort: the team received support from some very generous members of the Wellington Astronomical Society as well as from the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, and the Carter Observatory. In addition to this, Haritina set up a Pledge Me (crowd sourcing) page online that reached its target goal and organised a special planetarium evening at the Carter Observatory where the ticket sales went towards the trip. With the event looming, there was no time to go through a traditional student selection process. But Haritina and local astronomers knew four young people who were ideal candidates for the job.

Navodhi Depalchitra and Daniel Yska from Onslow College, Darina Kuhn from Wellington East Girls College, and Connor Hale from Tawa College represented New Zealand at the 7th Astronomy Olympiad in August 2013. They were accompanied by Gordon Hudson, president of the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand. Navodhi, Daniel, Darina, and Connor are all passionate scientists with excellent maths and physics skills. They are also long-time active members of their school astronomical association and in the past, two of the group had attended a US Space Camp. The students were one of 37 teams from around the world who converged on Greece for the Olympiad.


ast tests can be downloaded from the official Astronomy Olympiad website for a taster of the science that goes on at the event. The New Zealand team performed well at the Olympiad, where the skill level of the international participants ran high. Haritina says next year she would love to see interest from students and teachers from other parts of New Zealand and the implementation of a national selection process. This would allow more students the chance to attend the Olympiad. “This can only be done with the support of teachers around New Zealand so we would be very keen to know if there is interest for it.” “We’d like to organise a national extra–curricular programme in astronomy that could culminate in a competition to choose students to attend the Olympiad. “Such a programme would further enhance the science community here in New Zealand,” she says.

An Astronomy Olympiad in New Zealand Haritina would also love to see the Astronomy Olympiad take place here one day.

Interested students and teachers can contact Haritina Mogosanu:

Navodhi Depalchitra, Daniel Yska from Onslow College, Darina Kuhn from Wellington East Girls College and Connor Hale from Tawa College represented New Zealand at the 7th Astronomy Olympiad in August 2013.

“It’s a matter of promoting some of the best skies in the word when it comes to looking at stars, and we could share that with the world. We have here the world’s first dark sky reserve with gold status.” That is a long-term goal that could be achieved with the support of universities, astronomical societies, and science teachers throughout the country. Why astronomy? We can learn a lot by looking at the stars, says Haritina, and New Zealand children are perhaps

the last in the world to observe the starry sky as our ancestors did. “We are technologically advanced because we looked at the night sky. Maths, physics, and everything that followed happened because we studied the stars, and to me that is fascinating. “I feel it’s our duty as astronomers and planetarium presenters to tell people not to take our night sky for granted but love it and appreciate it for what it means for humankind. It’s a beautiful way of looking at the world. And after all, we are made of stardust.” 



Your pupils can sit amongst the stars and experience the wonders of the night sky in the daytime, in your school. FIND: Where the planets are in the sky Why the moon changes shape What makes day and night How a meteorite feels COST: 1st day $795 2nd + days $695 1/2 day 595 For more information email Phone 0800 STARLAB (782 752) (Starlab available in North Island Schools only)

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 21

CURRICULUM & LITERACY Planet Earth & Beyond

Join Julian on a

geological adventure GNS Science outreach educator Julian Thomson has an enviable job: he’s communicating geoscience to the public. Julian Thomson and GNS Community education at GNS Science Geology is a hot topic right now, especially in central New Zealand. But it’s the daily focus of the folk at GNS Science, and Julian Thomson has the job of communicating what happens at the organisation. GNS is one of the seven Crown Research Institutes, and its scientists study geohazards and the science of environmental change with a focus on New Zealand geology. “There’s a growing desire to communicate the science that is happening in New Zealand. But many of the scientists don’t have a lot of time to do it, so my job is to facilitate science communication,” Julian says. He describes GNS as an organisation where many projects are happening at once. “The moment there’s an earthquake or a volcanic eruption in the news, there is the need for better information for people. There is always something going on here, and I act as the intermediary.”

A varied role Julian describes his job as revolving around workshops and visits to schools, community groups, and museums. He has recently led a hands-on immersion ‘geo-camp’ for secondary students in Taranaki. He writes web-pages, including nonspecialised information about geology in New Zealand. He also facilitates GNS social media, such as a Facebook page and a YouTube channel that features informative videos. A graphics department on-site helps create engaging clips using animations. And of course, Julian keeps a blog, which you can follow here:

Julian’s Rock and Ice blog The purpose of Julian’s Rock and Ice Blog is to communicate a wide range of geology stories to the public. “I want the stories on my blog to have some sort of enduring value. Even though 22

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Julian took this photo while on field work at the Tongariro North Crater. He writes: From the edge of North Crater, there is a view down to Ketetahi Hut and across to Upper Te Maari. It is sobering to think that the hut was damaged by large flying rocks erupted from Te Maari about 2km away during the August eruption.

they may be around a current event (such as the Cook Strait earthquakes), I try to use it as an example so that the stories will still be valid at a later time.” Current geological events can be used as ‘doorways’ to wider stories or accounts of the work GNS scientists have done. For example, the most recent post, when NZ Science Teacher spoke to Julian, describes what’s happening at GNS following the Cook Strait earthquake storm. Julian details the different kind of tasks following a seismic event like this, including working out the adjusted stress on nearby fault lines, calculating the probability of more earthquakes, and of course, interacting with the media. Friendly and accessible language and colourful diagrams, photos, and videos enhance each entry.

In June 2013, 24 students and about 10 teachers participated in this ‘Power of the Planet’ Geocamp which culminated in a geoscience expo at Puke Ariki. “I always try and use everyday language when I’m writing about the science, so it’s accessible to anyone and everyone who is interested. I’m thinking of the reader as a nonspecialist.” Other blog posts see Julian investigating moa bones in a Takaka cave, fossil hunting along the Wairarapa coastline, or exploring the remote Mangahouanga Stream in inland Hawkes Bay. Readers may find themselves envious of Julian’s working week. He travels often, and has regular opportunities to go into the field.

Mt Taranaki is a volcanic region monitored by Geonet. Julian accompanied GNS geologists to the area in May, 2013.

What does the blog have to offer secondary science teachers?

Above: The busy workroom at GNS Science, following the Cook Strait earthquakes Below: Students on a field trip at Titahi Bay, north of Wellington. Julian writes: If you are a teacher, this is an excellent place to encourage your students to observe some of these natural features, such as sea caves, sea stacks, arches, marine terraces and wave-cut platforms.

In addition to his geology background, Julian has been a secondary science teacher in the past and hopes his blog will be useful in a classroom context. Students can follow his geological adventures vicariously, or be inspired to attend a geo camp themselves. Julian also hopes the blog will inspire teachers to take their students on field trips. “Teachers could search within my blog for their location. There is information and pictures about

“I always try and use everyday language when I’m writing about the science, so it’s accessible to anyone and everyone who is interested. I’m thinking of the reader as a nonspecialist.”

what’s revealed geologically in many places around the country.” He says it’s important for teachers to carefully plan any field trips, so the learning goals are clearly outlined before setting out. In this way, field trips can be a powerful tool to communicate geology to students, and to realise the potency of observation. “It’s good to have activities which are going to lead the students into really looking at their surroundings and thinking deeply about these observations, he says.” Julian says that while the blog is useful for teachers and students, he hopes the wider public will also want to join him on his travels around the country. “For anyone who is interested, this is one little doorway into the geology of New Zealand. “I want to show New Zealand just how much interesting stuff is out there. I find it so totally fascinating. Our geology is such a fantastic world to get caught up into. Once you’re gripped by the interest, the education just happens.”  New Zealand Science Teacher >> 23

EDUCATION & SOCIETY science education & the environment

Toira te Moana - Toira te Tangata

Sea Week 2013 Healthy Seas - Healthy People


eaweek is a national celebration of our marine environment, coordinated by the New Zealand Association for Environmental Education (NZAEE) and sponsored by the Department of Conservation, which ran from March 2–10 this year The theme for 2013’s Seaweek was Healthy Seas – Healthy People Toiora te Moana – Toiora te Tangata. Hundreds of events around New Zealand took place during Seaweek. To celebrate the awareness week, the Department of Conservation’s blog featured an interview with one of New Zealand’s ‘Seaweek Stars’. Meet passionate marine scientist and technical adviser at the Department of Conservation, Andrew Baxter. How did you become interested in marine biology? I grew up on a mixed cropping and sheep farm in mid-Canterbury, miles from the sea, with a salmon fishing rod in one hand and a rifle in the other. I suppose my interest in marine biology began with family Christmas holidays as a kid at Kaikoura – plenty of rock pools to explore and fish to catch – and gradually unfolded while I was at Canterbury University. Learning to dive at this time was also a big eye opener. From there, I went to Taranaki for a couple of years, and then had a few years in Wellington before heading to Nelson in 1987 to work for DOC (where I have remained for more years than I care to count). What is it about the sea that presses your buttons? Definitely its mysteries. We know so little about it compared to the land – new things are being discovered all the time: from several new species each week, to the intricate complexities and linkages that tie everything together.

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Meet Andrew Baxter from the Department of Conservation. Also the sea’s vulnerabilities … the sea is hugely important to New Zealanders, yet people often take it for granted because it’s huge and it looks ‘fine’ from the surface. But take a closer look and it’s not as robust as we might otherwise think. Why the interest in marine mammals in particular? My job involves everything from snails to whales. However, with such a diverse array of marine mammals and the number of strandings we get, marine mammals can be a significant part of my job at times. If whales are so smart, why do many of them strand themselves on beaches? Many, of course, simply die at sea from natural causes and wash up on our shores. Live strandings are more of a conundrum and there are many theories why whales and dolphins strand. In a lot of cases, I suspect there is not just one causative factor but rather two or more in combination. Like us, whales breathe air, and like us, they presumably will have a strong aversion to drowning. So when they become sick or injured, a natural reaction will be to seek shallow water. For a highly social species, including pilot whales, their strong social bonds and natural instincts to look after one another can turn against them. One sick individual can lead to a chain reaction and a mass stranding unfolds. Accidents happen (even for whales) and for a species that also echo-locates, gently shelving beaches

like those in Golden Bay are particularly risky. The whales’ sonar disappears into the distance rather than being reflected back and Farewell Spit forms the perfect whale trap. What’s the first thing people should do when they come across a stranding? Contact DOC (0800 DOCHOT) and let us know all the details from location, species and number of animals to weather and sea conditions. And the second? Be careful! Whales (even the smaller ones) are hugely powerful and can cause serious injury if they lash out. In particular, avoid the area around the tail. If you are able to, keep the whales wet and covered with a sheet, avoiding the blow hole they breathe through. Are we any closer to figuring out how to stop whales from stranding in the first place? Not really. They are, after all, natural events. People sometimes suggest putting in sonar reflectors, acoustic deterrent devices, or underwater speakers that play orca sounds (or perhaps Barry Manilow music?). Aside from the question of cost, the difficulty is that whales are not totally stupid (despite what people might think from them stranding) and could just swim around or investigate them. Several years ago, we trialled the use of a bubble curtain – a compressor and a long perforated hose to create a wall of bubbles that reflect a whale’s sonar. It worked initially, but once one whale discovered it was effectively an illusion by accidentally breaking through the ‘wall’, they all began to ignore it.

Loud acoustic devices or ones that play orca sounds could cause panic and drive whales ashore. Also, we don’t want to drive away other species that inhabit coastal areas. If you could talk to whales, what are some of the first questions you’d ask them? Obviously, “Why can’t you get your act together and not strand?” It would also be good to ask them what they think about our management of the oceans, from noise, pollution, and ‘scientific whaling’ to tourism and fishing. I also wonder if whales have forgiven humans for hunting some of them almost to extinction. What is the strangest stranding you have attended? A number of years ago, I was phoned on Christmas morning about an orca stranded on Haulashore Island. Foregoing bacon, eggs, and hash browns (that I had just cooked) and a bottle of cheap bubbly, I rushed down to Rocks Road with a colleague and some binoculars to check it out. There looked to be a small orca on the cobble shore, but with a blustery south-westerly blowing it was very hard to get a good view. Luckily, a hardy kayaker checked it out and discovered it was an inflatable plastic orca which must have blown off Tahuna Beach. After initially being pumped up to help rescue an orca, finding it was an inflatable whale was a bit of a let-down. Suffice to say, we left a bit deflated. At the end of a stranding, what do you most take away from it apart from exhaustion? Depending on the outcome, you can leave elated, frustrated or emotionally drained. Making some hard decisions around euthanasia can be very challenging emotionally. But the biggest thing I always take away from a large stranding is the

sense of camaraderie from working alongside iwi, volunteers from near and far, and other DOC staff. Big strandings require a huge team effort.

Preparing for Seaweek 2014 “Our Fragile, Finite Taonga” is the theme for NZAEE’s Seaweek 2014, highlighting how precious this amazing resource is that we call the sea.


unning from March 1-9, Seaweek 2014 will call on Kiwis from all walks of life to celebrate Tangaroa’s realm. It’s a week to highlight the issues faced by our oceans and learn about the positive impacts of sustainable fishing and marine reserves. We all contribute to taking care of our sea. New next year will be the launch of resources which offer great opportunities to get your school involved. The ‘Marine Metre Squared’ project, overseen by the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre, encourages schools, families, communities, and iwi to get involved in collecting valuable data and monitoring their local seashore environment. The project will be launching a new guide for soft sediments in 2014, so that sandy and muddy shores can be assessed along with rocky shores. The data will be used to help scientists improve coastal management. Schools, communities, and individuals will be encouraged to nominate their ‘Ocean Champions’ to celebrate all those groups, organisations, and individuals who work so hard to protect our seas and the marine life that lives in them. There are all sorts of activities happening around the country to mark Seaweek, from organised bird watching to guided snorkelling events. In addition, teachers can register for the Seaweek Preparation Workshops to be held in Auckland on Tuesday 12 November 2013.

What is it about New Zealanders’ treatment of the marine environment that depresses you the most? The ‘out of sight, out of mind’ syndrome, and the false presumption that the sea is vast and can cope with anything. The attitude that it is always ‘someone else’s fault is also frustrating. We are only going to make a difference through people taking personal responsibility. Even simple things such as not littering and sticking to the fisheries limits can make a huge difference if everyone does it. What gives you the most hope? There are some very clever and astute young people coming through the education system. They are our biggest hope for the future. Working with community groups like Te Korowai o Te Tai o Marokura in Kaikoura has also shown me the power of local communities taking responsibility for their own areas.

If you were the benevolent dictator of New Zealand, what are a few of the first things you’d do to make it a better place? Assuming I also had an open cheque book, I would provide significant funding to all the health, social, and environmental community groups that are trying so hard to make a difference – often with so little. If you were a marine mammal, what would you be and why? There are two options here. The Andrews’ beaked whale (yes, there really is a whale called that), for no better reason than its obviously great name. Though if I had to choose just one, I would pick an orca (killer whale), simply because they are at the top of the food chain and don’t have to worry too much about anything else with sharp teeth and an empty stomach, except perhaps when young. 

This first appeared on the Department of Conservation’s blog: and was originally adapted from an article in the Nelson Leader newspaper.

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 25



flipped textbook project


MIKE WILSON explains how e-learning can enhance biology lessons.

s a teacher of senior biology, I am often looking for ways to incorporate e-learning into my lessons. Biology lends itself to the use of the internet as many concepts and ideas are very contextual and interactive and can be easily reinforced and taught by the use of video, animation, or podcast. Internationally, many people, from individuals such as Bozeman Biology (an American teacher who has won accolades for his YouTube biology lessons) to large universities and textbook

companies are making interactive animations and videos that relate to the curriculum. Probably the most famous exponent of this model is Khan Academy, which is now producing some excellent biology videos usable for our L2 and 3 biologists. The biology curriculum seems to be becoming more content-filled, leaving less time for the hands-on biology that once was the norm. I often find that my students can remember the ‘facts’, but are


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lacking the in-depth understanding and skills required to explain and discuss biological concepts. This is where the flipped classroom model can be of use. In this article, I am going to discuss the positive and negative aspects of the flipped classroom model that I have discovered on my journey as well as the ways I am using it with my classes. Also, I hope to share a resource that all biology teachers can use to at least trial the basic use of the flipped classroom model.

What is a ‘flipped classroom’? In the extreme form, you will hear the flipped model as one that inverts traditional teaching methods. Instruction is delivered online outside the classroom and the ‘homework’ and application of the content is moved to the classroom. Most of the articles you read will state that the video portion that you make is the backbone of the learning. In a traditional classroom, the teacher’s role is one of ‘sage on the stage’, whereas in a flipped classroom, the teacher’s role is the ‘guide on the side’. In the flipped classroom model, the students will watch lectures, animations,

and online readings and do classwork at their own pace. Often, they have the opportunity to communicate with peers and their teacher via online instruction such as forums or shared documents. If you are running a full flipped model, you will have to undertake a massive culture shift. The classroom becomes studentcentred. Students will move from being the product of teaching to the centre of learning, where they are actively involved in knowledge formation through opportunities to participate in and evaluate their learning in a manner that is personally meaningful.

How effective is it in a New Zealand school, and how much of the programme should you flip? The answer is that it can be great for the right student, one with the right skill-set, access to technology, and internal drive to learn. For those lacking these aspects, a more scaffolded model needs to be followed. The flipped classroom should be thought of as another tool in the teacher’s toolbox and not as a replacement for all traditional teaching. I personally think the lack of instant feedback on questions surrounding

✔ My students who naturally showed motivation towards their learning utilised this resource bank and used it to study. Many students didn’t even log in unless I set a homework task online and warned them I would be checking later. I quickly came to the conclusion that online learning is only effective if the student is motivated to use the tool and finds it helpful and easy to access.

Using Google Sites

new concepts could become a large issue. I use the flipped model for approximately 1 lesson in every 6. My journey began in 2009 when I started teaching at a school where a Moodle-based LMS was just being introduced. Before this, I had a simple website where I stored a few PowerPoint presentations and hand-outs, but I liked the idea of having a page for all my classes where, you guessed it, I could store my PowerPoints and hand-outs.

Fast forward to 2012. This is when I started playing around with ‘Google Sites’ with my classes. At this time, I was using it as a student creation activity where they would create the content. I was amazed at the ease with which they quickly assembled a large link database with pictures and videos linked from the internet, and from this point, I decided this would be a good place to host a flipped textbook. From this, an important issue arises: copyright and online content. With Google Sites, videos, images, and files can be embedded and are only linked to the source, which helps to address the copyright issue (the embedded content is therefore not hosted). After that, I collated all the online resources I was using in my lessons and focused on animation, video and images. The textbook is not the definition of the perfect ‘flipped classroom’ as I have not created the videos myself, but rather, I use it as yet another tool in my classroom. I’ve found it to be well received by my students. By adding key points from previous examinations, the textbook is slowly taking shape into a usable resource. To use it, I often set a homework task focusing on an animation, video, and definition. The students are set to view this away from the classroom, and the next lesson, we look at relevant NCEA questions on the topic. This allows more time to focus on the literacy and answering skills that are vital to do well in the current biology exam format. If you would like to use the resource with your own students you can find it at 


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In a traditional classroom, the teacher’s role is one of ‘sage on the stage’, whereas in a flipped classroom, the teacher’s role is the ‘guide on the side’.

Michael Wilson is a senior biology teacher at Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hamilton. Email: New Zealand Science Teacher >> 27

SAFETY Science Technicians

A life devoted

to science education Legendary science technician Kay Memmott looks back on her long career.



How long have you been a science technician?

I was a science technician for 55 years and have now been retired for eight years. Previously I worked in the dairy and plastics industry. I did take time out to be with my two children until the youngest started school and again when we came to New Zealand from the UK when I had to wait two years for a position to become available.


What led you into the field?

I travelled to school on the bus and always tried to get onto the upper deck. We would pass an industrial laboratory where I saw technicians performing their tasks and thought how I would like to do that and get paid for doing it. I attended a girls’ grammar school which was in a large old house. I loved practical science but was a bit of a day dreamer. I used to sit by the window that looked out onto a lovely manicured garden. I usually only managed a few weeks before I was moved to the front of the class in front the teacher’s desk, but in those few weeks, I would watch the science technician walking around picking flowers, collecting leaves and seed heads for our science lessons and decided that was what I would eventually like to do. I also envied the fact that she had to set up practical experiments and they always worked.


What was it like when you first began?

I started my career in England on a full-time salaried position. The larger comprehensive secondary schools had at least two science technicians whilst the smaller schools had just one. When we came to New Zealand in 1974 and I enquired about a position, I was told that New Zealand schools did not have

Over your career, how have you seen the role of science technicians change?

I would watch the science technician walking around picking flowers, collecting leaves and seed heads for our science lessons and decided that was what I would eventually like to do.


technicians and would I like to do some relief teaching. That was a “no, thank you” from me, but I had to wait two years before a school that had just opened advertised for a science technician. I applied for the advertised position and felt sure that I would get it as I held an English science technician’s qualification, which was unavailable here. However, upon waiting two weeks and not having a reply, I phoned the school and the position had not been filled but the principal saw the position as being suited to a man! Could I solder? Yes, of course I could. Could I use a power drill? Can’t anyone? I was beginning to wonder whether I really wanted to work in a school where the principal asked questions based on gender. However, I got an interview and convinced him that I could do almost anything a male could do, plus all the things that a woman can do, too. He was never allowed to forget those first questions!

I suppose the first change that comes to mind is that most if not all secondary schools here in New Zealand now employ a science technician. When I first started working in New Zealand, we were very much on our own and had no conditions of service. We were paid only for the hours that we worked, were not paid for any public holidays and had no holiday pay. It wasn’t until NZEI took support staff on board through ESPA (Education Services Paraprofessional Association) that we started to negotiate a contract and began to accumulate conditions of service; the first one being that we had a place to store personal possessions after a support staff member had her hand bag stolen. Yes, we started from scratch. The second change was that we got recognition from a national organisation and later we were taken under the wings of the science teachers through The Royal Society. Prior to the change to Tomorrow’s Schools, science departments would be issued with equipment through the Ministry of Education. A new laboratory would bring along with it wooden crates, which I seem to remember came from India, with lots of science equipment. This process would be repeated every few years. It was like opening a Pandora’s Box. However, the equipment that arrived was not necessarily what was needed. After all, who needs more than one small jar of sodium and phosphorus or dozens of retort stands. Tomorrow’s Schools saw the installation of the operations grant and science departments were able to decide how they spent their budget. They had more autonomy, but in many cases, they had to fight for their

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budget when the board of trustees had other priorities. The technician’s salary also comes from the operations grant, and many BOT members, who themselves had probably never seen a science technician in their school, did not, and many still do not, reward technicians for the responsibility and knowledge needed to perform their tasks. Technicians must respond to every change in the science curriculum. They must be aware of new demands for the practical component and provide good working equipment. NCEA demands internal assessments, and each student requires the correct equipment to perform a given experiment. It’s the technician who is responsible for making, replenishing, and maintaining sets of gear. No longer does one experiment get demonstrated by the teacher and moved from class to class. Techies have to be on top of the game at all times. Having been away from the position for several years, during which technology has moved at an ever increasing pace, I am not fully aware of the changes that there have been, but from what I have seen and heard, more work now involves computers, PowerPoint presentations, and electronics. I did some relieving work a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed issuing electronic kits for electricity experiments rather than having to solder leads to light bulbs or repair ammeters that were mistaken for voltmeters. Technicians are no longer expected to work in areas the size of a large cupboard, I hope, and if they are, I suggest that they alert health and safety officers because technicians have a responsibility for the safety of their workspace and the equipment they issue. Digital communication has changed the role of science technicians.

How wonderful it was when we all had access to computers and were able to contact a whole network of school technicians not only locally but worldwide. This helped us solve problems and share ideas more easily. There is now more control on chemicals which can be used in schools so that the classroom environment is safe for the students without spoiling the magic and excitement of science.


I hear you’ve always been a good problem solver. Is there a stressful situation that stands out in your memory?


Most of the problems have been about where to obtain equipment or specimens or just providing a listening ear for people in what can be a solitary position. Sometimes, dare I say it, I’ve advised fellow technicians on how to deal with a stressed teacher.

How wonderful it was when we all had access to computers and were able to contact a whole network of school technicians not only locally but worldwide.

Something I found very stressful was helping to negotiate technicians’ pay. Sometimes their board of trustees refused to place them on the grade to which they were entitled. Often it only required the right word or sentence – e.g. ‘managing systems’ – put into the job description to help their case for a higher grade. They could certainly try their best but sometimes it made little difference. Nothing is more soul destroying than doing an excellent job with less than the deserved reward.


What is it about being a science technician that has kept you doing the job?


I had an HOD who trusted me to get the job done in my own way. Because I worked in a new school, I was able to set up my laboratories as I wanted them, and he always supported me if I had problems with any of the staff. I had support from most of the teachers I have ever worked with and still count many of them as my friends. I have loved working with students – especially seniors – and enjoyed my interaction with many of the students who have been sent to me for ‘time out’. I so enjoyed working with new equipment and experiments, even if they worked for me but messed up when students got hold of them. Each day brought a challenge. I have been fortunate to be able to work at the same school in an enjoyable environment for thirty years, in a job that I chose whilst daydreaming when still at school. It enabled me to work while my children were at school and be with them in the school holidays even though I wasn’t paid for school holidays. (By the way, I want to mention, support staff are still not paid for school holidays…) A technician’s job presents a challenge every day but challenges are what techies enjoy and are good at. That is why many of them stay in the job for many years. Most of all, I kept doing the work because of the support and friendship from other New Zealand science technicians. 

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The New Zealand Curriculum:

education through If we want students interested in science at higher levels of education, they require positive learning opportunities in primary school, writes STEVEN SEXTON. Introduction In anticipation of the full implementation of The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007), a great deal of literature was available to schools to inform teachers about its intention, meaning, and purpose (see, for example, Arcus, 2009; Cowie, Hipkins, Boyd, Bull, Keown, et al., 2009; Foster, 2009). This curriculum document officially replaced the 1993 documents for the start of the school year in 2010. Prior to this, a separate document detailed each learning area (see science, for example, Ministry of Education, 1993). With the present curriculum, one document now encompasses the educational experiences of English-medium students for years 1 to 13. The New Zealand Curriculum is a political document targeted to a nationwide audience. This document was drafted and written in consultation with numerous vested interest parties. Nevertheless, it still has to be implemented in the classroom by individual teachers. Many of these teachers find themselves having to implement a new curriculum based on an integrated approach to teaching. Previously, teachers worked to develop essential skills and attitudes in students through a set of possible learning experiences in each learning area (see science, for example, Ministry of Education, 1993). Now teachers are presented with the task of putting into practice rich and meaningful guidelines underpinned by extensive international research through content determined by the local community. Teachers must now take into consideration the content material that is seen as relevant, useful, and meaningful (Sexton, 2011) to their students based on their worldview. As stated, this curriculum change was to be fully implemented for the beginning of the 2010 school year. 30

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They reiterated that for science learning to successfully engage students, it must be meaningful to them and they must be supported by the teacher.

It has been estimated that at least half of New Zealand teachers were unprepared for this change (Hipkins & Hodgen, 2012). One of the reasons for reporting teachers with a lack of readiness was the new curriculum’s emphasis on the Nature of Science as the overarching strand. This new emphasis no longer requires teachers to focus on the content strands of the Living World (Biology), the Material World (Chemistry), the Physical World (Physics), or Planet Earth and Beyond. Teachers should now focus their students’ learning, using whatever science content that is appropriate, through the following: »» Understanding about science »» Investigating in science »» Communication in science »» Participating and contributing (see Ministry of Education, 2007). This conceptual shift from possible learning activities in science to an explicit directive to incorporate student-initiated topics in their teaching has resulted in many teachers reporting a lack of

content knowledge (Education Review Office, 2010, 2012). This self-reported content knowledge limitation in science, compounded with perceived lack of resources for science, results in many students not experiencing effective learning of science (Education Review Office, 2012). Duschl, Schweingruber, and Shouse (2007) highlighted that many of the key ideas of and about science may be impossible for students to grasp without instructional support, that is, the classroom teacher. They reiterated that for science learning to successfully engage students, it must be meaningful to them and they must be supported by the teacher. Let us be very clear here, primary teachers are not trying to be scientists or somehow turn their students into scientists. Primary teachers need to provide effective learning opportunities in the area of science. The Education Review Office (ERO) has highlighted what counts as quality and effective science in schools in New Zealand. The ERO 2012 report noted the characteristics that were evident in the classrooms in which effective education through science was taking place. These schools evidenced characteristics of students’ engagement, specifically: students like doing science, are motivated by their classroom science activities, think they are learning well in science, and are enthusiastic about doing more science (see Education Review Office, 2012). Similarly, these schools’ teachers model some of the teacher

characteristics ERO identified as good practice indicators, in particular: 1. High quality planning, including strategies for identifying and responding to students’ prior knowledge, and for teaching them the significant scientific concepts (or big ideas). 2. Flexible approaches that take advantage of students’ curiosity and are able to meet their diverse needs. 3. An emphasis on the quality of students’ thinking, or conceptual development. 4. High quality investigations, reflection and discussions that help students develop their understanding of scientific knowledge and processes. 5. Engaging practical activities that allowed students to investigate their own ideas as well as those of others – these activities were collaborative, relevant, and drew on local context as well as interests of students (see Education Review Office, 2010).

Science in Primary Education Much has been written in New Zealand and internationally about science in education (Bolstad & Hipkins, 2008; Parker, 2004; Traianou, 2006; Tytler, 2008). Parker (2004) highlighted the fact that the need to know what you are teaching and how to teach it is central to all teachers’ work. However, must teachers have a great deal of subject knowledge to teach effectively and to be able to present the various opportunities their students require for accessing that knowledge? Shulman (1986) described this duality as Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), which I would argue means that teachers need to apply more than one pedagogical approach to the subject matter or be able to break the subject matter down to suit the pedagogical tool

that is being applied. In other words, teacher expertise in pedagogy (P) and content (C) enables students to access knowledge (K) (see Figure 1). In relation to primary science, this means providing students with the experiences or opportunities to make sense of the world around them. Ideas get linked to the wider world and create broader concepts grounded in a deeper understanding when they emerge out of a student’s own environment (Otrell-Cass, Cowie & Glynn, 2009; Parker, 2004). In line with this, The New Zealand Curriculum now empowers local communities to select their own content, and thereby, to have their interests reflected in their children’s education. In itself, however, a meaningful context is not enough. Students also need to see the relevance and usefulness of their learning and teaching environment. Traianou (2006) used the example of one British primary teacher to describe what relevant, useful, and meaningful teaching could look like in the primary classroom. This teacher’s expertise enabled her to structure the class so that her students were encouraged to ask, and address, their own questions. As a result, her teaching allowed the students to engage in activities that challenged their preconceptions or misconceptions about their own world. For this teacher, the goal of primary science is that, “children find out about things that are obvious in everyday life but they haven’t thought of in this way before” (p.68). This required her students to participate in both the doing of science and discussion about the science that they have done. Her success in assisting her students in accessing new knowledge supports findings about what turns students off science. Tytler’s (2008) review of the state of Australia’s science education >>

The Knowledge Students are Able to Access Due to Teacher Expertise


K N O w l e g


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<< reported three central characteristics of what makes science teaching unappealing to students: »» The transmissive pedagogy that characterised school science. »» The decontextualised content that did not engage students’ interest or commitment. »» The unnecessary difficulty of school science. Similar findings were reported by Bull, Gilbert, Barwick, Hipkins, and Baker (2010). In their paper to encourage debate within New Zealand on how to better engage students in science, they noted, “much of the science taught in schools is not especially useful in everyday life, and many students do not achieve sufficient understanding of it to be able to contribute to scientific debates”. It seems that for many students, science in education is learning science knowledge rather than an education through a scientific context. I have argued elsewhere how and why I believe, science in primary education should be education through a science context rather than focused on science education (see Sexton, 2011). More importantly for this essay, Bolstad and Hipkins (2008) reported the progressive

32 >> New Zealand Science Teacher

I have argued elsewhere how and why I believe science in primary education should be education through a science context rather than focused on science education.

disengagement from science as primary-aged students advanced through their schooling. Bolstad and Hipkins (2008) reviewed data provided by the New Zealand National Education Monitoring Programme (NEMP), which recorded trends in Year 4 and Year 8 students’ attitudes towards science between 1995 and 2007. Less than a third of all Year 8 students monitored in 2007 reported doing ‘really good things’ in science more often than not. For Ma-ori less than a quarter reported positive experiences in science. Bolstad and Hipkins go on to highlight the fact that the emerging research provides strong evidence that students are aligning themselves to careers in or out of science fields prior to attending Intermediate school. As a result, some primary-aged students are making life-long learning choices based on their primary schooling experiences. This disengagement by primaryaged students may be because the 1993 New Zealand curriculum documents focused on doing science in a scientific manner with the explicit intention of developing scientific skills and attitudes through investigation (Ministry of Education, 1993). The final objective was for students to be

able to carry out a complete scientific investigation, starting with focusing and planning, then information gathering, and finally processing and interpreting this information to reach the reporting stage. To achieve this, classroom teachers were encouraged by the Ministry of Education to incorporate a number of possible activities into their programmes. Any wonder students view science as transmissive, decontextualised and unnecessarily difficult.

Science and the Nature of Science In April 2011, Sir Peter Gluckman delivered a report from the Office of the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser (Gluckman, 2011) in which he highlighted the challenges and opportunities for science education for New Zealand. He recognised the changing nature of science and the role it plays in society. More importantly, he stated that “a forward looking science education system is fundamental to our future success in an increasingly knowledge based world” (Gluckman, 2011, p. vi). He then went on to note that a particular challenge was in how New Zealand primary school teachers would be provided with the skills necessary for this forward looking science education system. However, is it science education or education through science that teachers should be looking forward with? In The New Zealand Curriculum, students should be developing the four elements of the Nature of Science: Understanding about science, Investigating in science, Communicating in science, Participating and contributing (Ministry of Education, 2007), by working with the four content strands. I argue science in primary education should not be focused on getting students to understand what a ‘scientist’ is and ‘how scientists work’ but on how to get them to make sense of their world. With students being turned off by science by the time they complete primary education (Bolstad & Hipkins, 2008), science in primary education needs to focus on learning through science contexts not science education. It is for this reason that primary education through science contexts works brilliantly with The New Zealand Curriculum. The strong association between science and constructivist theory has been well documented (see, for example, Skamp, 2004; Taber, 2010). More importantly for this paper,

it is one of the theories used to ground the development of New Zealand’s curriculum documents since the 1980s (Bell & Baker, 1997). However, the fact that students continue to report transmissive pedagogy as a deterrent to their continued engagement in science indicates that many teachers still do not practice how they are supposed to implement The New Zealand Curriculum.

Education through a science context The 5E approach (Skamp, 2004) has been shown to be successful in teaching scientific content to primary-aged students. The 5Es are: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This approach is very useful for teachers struggling with their own pedagogical content knowledge. Specifically for this paper, the 5E approach will be used to complement The New Zealand Curriculum’s overarching strand of the Nature of Science for education in science.

Cool Bombs The following is both a brief description and discussion of how and why an activity titled ‘Cool Bombs’ is approached as education through a science context rather than science education. This is one of the activities that the author has used in the Sir Paul Callaghan Science Academy to support in-service teachers in professional development. This activity explicitly links the 5E approach to The New Zealand Curriculum’s Nature of Science. The first step in 5E is to get the students engaged in the activity; the use of a title such as this has more of a positive impact than saying or writing up on the board ‘Chemical Reactions’ or ‘A Citric Acid and Baking Soda mixture.’ I would write this title on the board to begin the discussion about what the students already know about bombs and blowing things up. Should any question(s) arise as to why the word ‘Cool’ is also written up, then that question can be explored as to possible meanings, but it will become clear as the activity continues. In this instance, only two words are needed

‘Explain’ is not so much the teacher talking as the teacher listening to what the students are saying. This is where the teacher gets to hear what the students are thinking, how they are making sense of it and how they are able to actually use their science literacy.

to engage most students’ interest. The Explore step is important, as it is where the students get the chance to try something out and see what happens. This step aligns with the Nature of Science’s Investigating in science where students should be extending their world and how their world works through play, exploration, using simple models and asking questions. In addition, this step is more likely to provide those experiences that challenge what they thought they knew leading to questions about what they are doing (i.e. the Nature of Science’s Understanding about science). This step, however, cannot be the end of the science lesson. Students need to experience the ‘WOW’ factor, but without the ‘why’ discussions that need to follow, this activity is most likely only going to be a fun activity as there is probably no real learning involved. Students should have the time to explore long enough to challenge what they think they know, but not so long that they lose interest. In pairs, the students mix 1 spoonful of citric acid and one of baking soda in a small sealable bag. In primary education through a science context, the focus should not be on precise measurements. At the primary level, I argue science is a verb and more specifically an action verb; students should associate science with them doing. Seal the bags, if they can, and let them see and hear what happens. Using small bags means any popping will not be so messy. Students need to watch, hear, and feel what is happening. This activity relies on three of their senses to gather the necessary data so after any ‘popping’ the students are told to hold the bag in their hand while they figure out what to say about what happened. Teachers need to remember that learning starts with what the students know and how they are being challenged, so listen to: What are they saying? What can they tell you? What are they describing? What are they seeing, hearing, and feeling? As stated, the Explore step is important, as this is where the students get the chance to try things out and experience what happens. As stated,

this step mirrors the relationship between the Nature of Science’s Understanding about science and Investigating in science elements. By undertaking this activity, students explore what different ingredients are able to do. This, in turn, hopefully raises further questions students will need to explore as they seek to discover the answers. This is the intent behind Understanding about science and Investigating in science. The questions generated about ‘how’, ‘why’, ‘what if’, and ‘what about’ as they seek deeper understanding about the science they are doing lead to further and more meaningful investigations in the science. The focus of the Explore step is to allow the students the opportunity and if necessary opportunities to see, hear, think and begin to discuss what is happening and how they are making sense of the event. Students need to be asked explicitly to explain their explorations. This is a deliberate step to discuss what they did and why, and what were the results of what they tried. The students are given the opportunity to talk about the science. This deliberate opportunity to incorporate the Nature of Science’s Communicating in science allows the teacher to hear actually what students are thinking and how they are making sense of the science. This facilitates the transition into the Explain step of the 5Es. Explain is not so much the teacher talking as the teacher listening to what the students are saying. This is where the teacher gets to hear what the students are thinking, how they are making sense of it and how they are able to actually use their science literacy (i.e. the Nature of Science’s Communicating in science). It is also, where the teacher gets a great deal of informative assessment on what they are getting out and taking away from the activity. The Explain step allows the teacher to determine what terminology is necessary for the students to discuss their experiences. In addition, teachers should also get to hear where the gaps are in their students’ comprehension of the activity and the science behind it. This is where many teachers start to panic and say they do not have the content knowledge to do science. Reminder, teachers do not have to know it all! In addition, how are students expected to learn how to find out what they do not know if they are not modelled this by the teacher? The key is keeping the explanations at an age appropriate level so the students get both WOW and WHY. This third E is vital as it lets the students show what >> New Zealand Science Teacher >> 33


<< they know and what they got, but it also directs you as the teacher to what will probably be needed in the fourth E of Elaborate. The Elaborate step should follow naturally any explanations that confuse or challenge what students thought they knew. This step is where the ‘science’ can be explicitly brought out, but this is where the students not only get the missing information they need to better discuss what they just experienced but also start to understand how and why this science is relevant to their world (i.e. the Nature of Science’s Participating and contributing). This should be where the teacher makes sure the science that was targeted is covered and the students are exposed to what the main point(s) was for the lesson. Teachers also need to make sure they return focus to the main point(s) of the science – tangents are great and often perfect teaching moments, but the students should have been doing this activity for a reason. When the students were explaining, what did they leave out or not quite get for the ‘accepted scientific explanations’ – this is in single quotation marks for a reason. Not every student needs to understand the full scientific explanation. In the case of the ‘cool bombs’, the main focus was the temperature of the bag. The bag gets colder in their hands, and they can feel this temperature change. For many students (and teachers), this is counterintuitive as we have learnt to associate explosions with heat not cold, one reason (the other being that this is actually a fun activity) why this activity is titled ‘cool bombs.’ Even very young children can describe that the bag is getting colder. Always try to elicit the vocabulary from students, but when necessary, give it. Modelling the use of questions, I ask them, “What do you mean it is getting cold?” I want them to use the word temperature. “How can we tell if something is hot or cold?” If possible and if age appropriate, I also want to elicit the word ‘thermometer’ from them as the tool we use to measure or find out what the temperature of something is. ‘Thermometer’ is now the third word that has been written so far. I would suggest stepping back to the Explore step with the express intent for the students to see how the temperature changes and how the thermometer changes in this 34

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Teachers, like their students, come to class with their own personal baggage and a selfperceived lack of science content knowledge is one of those obstacles.

activity. Young students do not need to be able to read a thermometer to tell you what is happening – they can see what is happening. Older students can read and part of the learning experience may actually be to record temperature versus time. When the thermometer changes what is happening to the temperature? Simple directing questions still keep the students engaged and now they have the chance to show they are able to use the vocabulary appropriately (i.e. Communicating in science). This second time I would use 2-3 spoonfuls of each ingredient so the reaction last longer. I would ask the students, “Who knows what it is called when something gets colder after you mix it?” Once again, if eliciting does not work, give the next needed bit of vocabulary ‘endothermic’. With ‘endothermic’, there are now four words on the board. However, lining up the ‘therm’ in Endothermic with that of ‘Thermometer’ is a visual way to help students grasp the meaning. Review what the students should know now as to the function, purpose, or usage of a thermometer – shows the temperature of something. Therefore “what would you think the ‘therm’ part of thermometer would mean?” almost every time someone is able to make the connection of ‘therm’ with temperature. In this case of cool bombs: “what happened to the temperature?”; “Did it give off heat?”; “It got colder so who thinks they know what ‘endothermic’ means now?” The final E of the 5Es is Evaluate. The step provides the students the opportunity to express not only what they are understanding about science but also how it relates to their world and what they are able to do with the science, that is the Nature of Science’s Participating and Contributing. This is where the students need to be able to discuss what they did, how they did it and why this science is relevant, useful, and meaningful to them. What did they do that challenged what they thought they knew? How did this impact on their understanding? What did they do that was like a scientist? This is where you as the teacher get to hear: What went well? What stills need to be worked on? Where to next? All based on what the students have been discussing. The fifth E may be new to many teachers as this is where the Nature

of Science is explicit. Students need to be exposed to content from the sciences (Living World, Material World, Physical World and Planet Earth and Beyond) but it is not really the content that is the focus anymore. It is how the students address this content and why they are being exposed to this content (i.e. the Nature of Science). In this activity, one of the main points was for the students to be able to use the scientific vocabulary appropriately. This activity did use all four elements of the Nature of Science so the students need to have this drawn out and explained. So now that they can use the vocabulary. I would explicitly ask, “Who can describe how we investigated in science?” This question assumes your students also know what they have to have done to Investigate in science. This was both an activity and fun play. There was no modelling here, so if this comes up students need to know why this is not a model. It is an endothermic reaction, not a model of one. Also, more than likely the questions they raised were management related or about the science itself and that is not part of Investigating in science but understanding about science. I am not teaching them to be scientists. We are using science as a learning context, and that is why I explicitly ask: “How have we acted like scientists?” This gets them to discuss their understanding about science and what they got from the activity. Then finally, I would ask: “Why did we do this?” The answer should not just be ‘because it was fun’. Students do need to have fun and experience the WOW factor of science, but they also must know the WHY factor. How has this affected their life and their world? If they cannot do this, then you probably only gave them a fun activity without any of the learning they could have had access to. Students need to be taught how to discuss and share ideas and opinions, and they may also have to be untaught what they think a science lesson is (actually, sometimes teachers have to be untaught this first). Science is a discussion class with the students doing most of that around the activity(s) that they are doing.

Conclusions Duschl, Schweingruber, and Shouse (2007) highlighted the need for

in-service teachers to continue in their own professional development. This is often easier said than done. Teachers have enormous demands placed on them for the day-to-day running of their class. I would argue that most teachers do in fact want to provide challenging and engaging learning opportunities for their students; it is just that in some subject content areas this is not that easy. Teachers, like their students, come to class with their own personal baggage and a self-perceived lack of science content knowledge is one of those obstacles (Simon, 2000). It has been concluded that teachers need to be both enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their subjects so that they provide, “well-ordered and stimulating science lessons” (Simon 2000, p. 115). If we want students interested in science in secondary school or at the tertiary level then they need exposure to science in primary. Primary school students need to be excited but they also need to know why they are doing it. Science that is only fun is only filling time. They might enjoy it, but what are they learning from it? Science needs to let students explore their world in all its weirdness and wonderfulness. Education through a science context requires teachers to provide those learning experiences that challenge


»» Arcus, C. (2009, August 24). Seizing the opportunity. New Zealand Education Gazette, pp. 10-11. »» Bell, B., & Baker, R. (Eds.). (1997). Developing the science curriculum in Aotearoa New Zealand. Auckland, New Zealand: Longman. »» Bolstad, R., & Hipkins, R. (2008). Seeing yourself in science: The importance of the middle school years. Report prepared for the Royal Society of New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: NZCER Press. »» Bull, A., Gilbert, J., Barwick, H., Hipkins, R., & Baker, R. (2010). Inspired by science. A paper commissioned by the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Prime Ministers’ Chief Science Adviser. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. »» Cowie, B., Hipkins, R., Boyd, S., Bull, A., Keown, P., et al. (2009). Curriculum implementation exploratory studies: Final report. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Education.

what students think they know. The New Zealand Curriculum and its overarching strand of the Nature of Science allows teachers this opportunity. As stated, this does not necessitate primary teachers trying to be scientists or turn their students into scientists. Primary teachers do need to know how to use the Nature of Science’s Understanding about science, Investigating in science, Communicating in science, and Participating and Contributing.

»» Duschl, R. A., Schweingruber, H. A., & Shouse, A. W. (Eds.). (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science to grades K-8. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. »» Education Review Office. (2010). Science in years 5 to 8: Capable and competent teaching. Wellington, New Zealand: Education Review Office. »» Education Review Office. (2012). Science in the New Zealand Curriculum: Years 5 to 8. Wellington, New Zealand: Education Review Office. »» Gluckman, P. (2011). Looking ahead: Science education for the twenty-first century. Auckland, New Zealand: Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee. »» Gluckman, P. (2013). Report of national science challenges panel. Auckland, New Zealand: Office of the Chief Science Adviser to the Prime Minister. Retrieved from www.msi.govt. nz/assets/Update-me/NationalScience-Challenges/Peak-Panelreport.pdf (25 June 2013).

‘Cool Bombs’ is just one activity that explicitly shows how education through a science context can be both WOW and WHY for students. One of the greatest advantages of education through science is that as students (and teachers and scientists) learn more, they are allowed to change their answer. 

Science needs to let students explore their world in all its weirdness and wonderfulness.

»» Hipkins, R., & Hodgen, E. (2012). Curriculum support in science: Patterns in teachers’ use of resources. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. »» Foster, G. (2009). Implementing the new curriculum. New Zealand Science Teacher, 120, 34-35. »» Ministry of Education. (1993). Science in the New Zealand curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media. »» Ministry of Education. (2007). The New Zealand Curriculum. Wellington, New Zealand: Learning Media. »» Otrell-Cass, K., Cowie, B., & Glynn, T. (2009). Connecting science teachers with their Ma-ori students. Set, 2, 34-41. »» Parker, J. (2004). The synthesis of subject and pedagogy for effective learning and teaching in primary science education. British Educational Research Journal, 30, 819-839. »» Sexton, S. S. (2011). Revelations in the revolution of relevance: Learning in a meaningful context. The International Journal of Science in Society, 2(1), 29-40.

»» Shulman, L. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4-14. »» Simon, S. (2000). Students’ attitudes towards science. In M. Monk & J. Osborne (Eds.), Good practice in science teaching: What research has to say (pp. 104-119). Buckingham, UK: Open University Press. »» Skamp, K. (2004). Teaching primary science constructively (2nd ed.). Victoria, Australia: Thomson. »» Taber, K. S. (2010). Paying lip-service to research? The adoption of a constructivist perspective to inform science teaching in the English curriculum context. Curriculum Journal, 21, 25-45. »» Traianou, A. (2006). Understanding teacher expertise in primary science: a sociocultural approach. Research Papers in Education, 21(1), 63-78. »» Tytler, R. (2008). Re-imaging science education: Engaging students in science for Australia’s future. Australian Education Review, 51, 1-77. New Zealand Science Teacher >> 35


Science Academy The Science Academy model was born out of an acknowledgement that effective science teaching is crucial if we are to see more science graduates who will drive innovation, writes PETER SMITH.

Catherine Irving discusses observations and inferences with Kevin Elmes.

Participants and some of the presenters of the 2013 Sir Paul Callaghan Science Academy.

Academy manager Pete Smith demonstrates how to create ‘physical graphs’ to communicate science ideas.


>> New Zealand Science Teacher


he 2013 Sir Paul Callaghan Science Academy (the Academy) was run in August, and with the evaluations in, it’s clear it was another resounding success. This is the second year of the Academy, run under the auspices of the National ScienceTechnology Roadshow Trust (the Trust), which also develops and delivers the Science Roadshow and other programmes into schools and communities across New Zealand (see With enthusiastic and committed teachers from different schools participating, the programme aims to create ‘science champions’ in the classroom. It is also hoped teachers will disseminate their newly acquired skills amongst their school colleagues.

Background The Academy model was born out of an acknowledgement that effective science teaching is crucial if New Zealand is to see more science graduates who will drive innovation, and, a science savvy public. The priority therefore was, and still is, to develop and extend the abilities and confidence of teachers – especially those in our primary and intermediate schools – in teaching science. This is not a new revelation; it has been recognised in a number of ways in a variety of research projects and activities over a good number of years. New Zealander of the Year in 2011, the late Sir Paul Callaghan

was a great proponent of quality science education as a prime driver of this process. This is why he was pleased that the Academy should bear his name. The Trust is uniquely placed to develop and run the Sir Paul Callaghan Science Academy as it is not aligned to a tertiary provider and therefore can engage with them, along with the wider education industry and other associated organisations in a nonpartisan way. The Trust’s 25-year history of national delivery of hands-on science and curriculum support is an added bonus.

What is the Academy? The Academy provides a forum for exchange, encouragement, and dissemination of ‘best practice’ primary science teaching. It offers a fresh in-service approach to equipping primary and intermediate school teachers with skills, resources and techniques to gain confidence in delivering the science curriculum through an intensive, four-day residential programme. Exploration, creativity, curiosity, questioning, the Nature of Science, inquiry, and effective pedagogy feature strongly in the programme. This is followed by ongoing interaction, support, and enrichment via an alumni network and post-academy programme.

Goals of the Academy The Academy is based on the following key precepts around creating champions and leading educators of science. Teachers need to be: »» Aware of the relevance and interconnected nature of science. »» Inspirers of the science achievers and citizens of tomorrow. »» Engaging and enthusiastic. »» Highly skilled, capable and confident.

Academy Programme The following is a snapshot of key components delivered over the four days:

Day One Focus: Background, basics and information sources »» What does the research into STEM teaching tell us? »» How is science relevant to the real world? »» A backbone for good science teaching. »» Science connections, information sources, and careers. Day Two Focus: Real science in the classroom »» The science curriculum. »» What is the “Nature of Science” strand? »» Easy steps towards incorporating more science in the class. »» Teaching and learning styles. »» Developing practical classroom approaches to the Nature of Science. Day Three Focus: Integration, skills, careers and enrichment »» Integrating science with literacy, numeracy and other curriculum areas. »» Making heroes — embedding scientists and science careers into teaching science and daily instruction. »» Examples of ways in which to engage students. »» Practical hands-on examples to further reinforce the Nature of Science. Day Four Focus: Assessment, planning and resourcing science »» Assessment and evaluation. »» Unit and schoolwide planning. »» Resourcing science. »» Keeping in touch through the alumni network. Continuity of support and sharing between the Academy and its alumni are important on going elements that aim to sustain and grow teacher confidence. If teachers have problems, they have the growing alumni network and the Academy staff to help them. Participating teachers come from a host of backgrounds

and bring with them just as many styles and approaches to delivering a science programme. Many have taught ‘content’ for years, with little emphasis on Nature of Science concepts, applying the old topic, subtopic, sub-subtopic approach. Others have tried to teach the Nature of Science but have struggled or only taught it implicitly. The Academy experience strives to turn this around by showing how to teach The Nature of Science explicitly within any context. At some point, participants really do ‘get it’. It’s like a revelation “Oh that’s so easy, and so much fun!” In summary, the Academy is not about re-inventing the wheel, but rather bringing together the best people (specially sourced leading teachers and researchers) in a structured and practical way, using best practice, to give teachers the kick start and turnaround experience they need to get on with teaching quality science.

Feedback from Academy participants speaks for itself: “An outstanding learning experience. The presenters were of the highest calibre; knowledgeable, engaging, and in touch with current practice. Participation should be mandatory for every school.” “The Academy was life-changing. I go back to my job seeing it through new eyes, seeing it as a career. I now feel like I have a new focus, enthusiasm, and valuable skills I can share with colleagues.” “It has re-sparked my love of teaching science and also provided me with an on-going resource bank to share with my colleagues and students.” “I feel it was a privilege to be part of this — I am quite amazed by how much planning and organisation went into it. It’s a wonderful model and I think it will make a difference over time — absolutely.” “Even though I teach science at my school, I came to the Academy feeling intimidated

by the mysteries of science that lay beyond my grasp. Like so many, I left science in early high school thinking it was too hard and too inaccessible for the likes of me. But four days later, I left the Academy reframing my entire thinking about what it means to teach science and technology. Moreover, the Academy gave me something I never learnt at school, the simple joy of wondering about the world around me and the profound satisfaction of pursuing answers. What more could I ask for than that? I had always thought that scientists and specialist science teachers were crazy nuts that lived in an academic bubble of their own self-importance. What I discovered were lovely people who know a lot more than me and who don’t despise me for my limited knowledge but invite me to explore the world they have come to love.”

The Academy provides a forum for exchange, encouragement, and dissemination of ‘best practice’ primary science teaching. Feedback one year on from the 2012 Academy How respondents have changed their science teaching practice as a result of the Academy: »» 60% said they are now placing greater emphasis on the importance of science to »» New Zealand’s future. »» 78% are now developing or enhancing lessons and/or units around the 5Es model. »» 60% are now placing more emphasis on the Nature of Science strand and sub strands. »» 80% are now explaining more clearly what science fundamentally is. »» 100% have now improved the types of questions used to initiate investigations. »» 90% have improved the depth and richness of science investigations. »» 70% are now making links between the skills that students

Steven Sexton, Senior Lecturer at Otago University College of Education, discusses approaches to a hands-on activity with John Smith, Dianne Sanson, and Fleur Knight.

»» »» »» »»

currently display and those used in possible future careers. 90% are now creating assessments based around the Nature of Science strand. 67% now have a better appreciation of schoolwide planning. 100% said that their science teaching overall has benefitted. 100% said they have used what they learnt at the Academy to assist other colleagues in their science teaching.

Workshop Presenters »» Rena Heap: Lecturer in Education, The University of Auckland; previously a primary school teacher and Royal Society of New Zealand Teacher Fellow. »» Ian Kennedy: The National Science Technology Roadshow Director; previously Advisory Services, and a high school science teacher holding executive positions in both the Canterbury and New Zealand Science Teachers Associations. »» Sue Leslie: Assistant Principal at Diocesan School for Girls and coordinator for the International Baccalaureate programme; previously a consultant in assessment for learning and a high school science teacher. »» Dave McLeod: Operations Manager for the National Science Technology Roadshow with particular interests in ICT support for learning, exhibit development and touring education programmes. »» Steven Sexton: Senior lecturer at Otago University with research interest areas in teacher cognition, heteronormativity in the classroom and science

education, and President of NZASE; previously a primary school teacher. »» Peter Smith: Education Manager of the Science Technology Roadshow and Manager of the Sir Paul Callaghan Science Academy; previously science education consultant and writer, primary science lecturer, Education Manager Science Alive!, Teaching Fellow at Lincoln University and high school science teacher. »» The Science Learning Hub: Content developers Barb Ryan and Angela Schipper, Faculty of Education, University of Waikato.

Visiting Teacher Presenters: »» Patsy Hindson: Professional Teacher Fellow at the Liggins Institute; previously a Year 7 classroom teacher at Remuera Intermediate School and Curriculum Lead Teacher in Science. »» Andrea Manu: Primary school teacher and HOD Science at Henderson Intermediate School; previously a Primary Science Teacher Fellow of the Royal Society. »» Jill Marsh: Year 2 classroom teacher, Assistant Principal and Curriculum Lead Teacher in charge of Inquiry Based Learning at St John’s Primary School, Mairangi Bay.

Visiting Speaker »» Sir Ken Stevens: Mechanical engineer, exporter and advocate of STEM education.

More information »»  New Zealand Science Teacher >> 37

EDUCATION & SOCIETY Sustainability

The students at Cape Tribulation, where they stayed for three nights, on a half-day kayak trip, where they spotted turtles and sea-eagles, among other wildlife.

Reef and Rainforest a rich experience

Biology students from Cashmere High School visited the only place in the world where two World Heritage sites meet.

A crocodile at Hartley’s Creek Crocodile Park. A cassowary.


t’s not every day that Christchurch biology students literally immerse themselves in the Great Barrier Reef. But that’s exactly what a group of Year 12 students from Cashmere High School did in their July holidays this year. The ‘Reef and Rainforest’ trip is an overseas, yet close-to-home optional extra that appeals to biology and environmentally conscious students. The group packs as much as possible into the 10 days they are away. It was the second time students from Cashmere have travelled to Queensland. HOD science teacher at Cashmere High School, David Paterson, says the trip is a special time out for his students, to have a “fascinating and fun” experience. “But I don’t want to give the impression our course is just all about big fancy trips. The travel is an optional extra, the icing on the cake.” Like any big event at a school, and to ensure it was equally possible for anyone to attend, the students and school community worked hard to fund the trip. Students took on after-school jobs, and sold sausages and chocolates. David says the trip is independent of the usual class work. “We like to keep the trip separate, so that it’s fair to the kids who aren’t going – we don’t want them to be disadvantaged. I also don’t want the kids who go on the trip to feel they have a lot of extra work to do.” Another Reef and Rainforest trip is planned for 2015. Read David’s report on the journey below.

Reef and Rainforest trip 2013 After getting up early for school 38

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all term, a very tired and excited group gathered at Christchurch airport at 4am on the first Saturday of the July holidays. After two years of fundraising and preparation, 16 science and biology students and two teachers were finally off on the Reef and Rainforest trip to tropical Queensland. The trip turned out to be an amazing experience as we explored the only place in the world where two World Heritage sites meet the Great Barrier Reef and the wet tropical forests of Queensland. We all improved our knowledge of these special ecosystems by immersing ourselves in them and listening to a series of excellent guides and educators.

Some highlights from the trip were: »» Staying overnight on a dive ship 40km off the coast of Cairns. We had hours of snorkelling time in which wonderful creatures were seen: turtles, rays, cleaner wrasse, schools of squid, spectacular coral formations, giant clams, and multitudes of fish. And yes, Nemo was there, too. Plus, some of us took the opportunity to have a day- and night-time scuba dive. »» Jungle surfing on a series of giant flying foxes through the Daintree rainforest canopy. This forest is 130 million years old, a relic from Gondwanaland, still with trees the dinosaurs would have grazed on. »» A night trek through the forest with an excellent guide, learning the ancient secrets of the plants. He got us to turn off our torches and sit in the dark listening to the sounds of the forest, then played an amazing ‘song’ on his didgeridoo. »» A fast boat ride out to the northern reefs with detours to view breaching humpback whales. »» Visiting a crocodile farm to see the truly awesome crocodile, Ted, a five metre monster, followed by an exciting show in which the crocodile ranger persuaded

Bart, a hungry male croc, to display all his hunting skills. The crowd were genuinely worried for the ranger when Bart lunged at his legs instead of the chicken he was supposed to go for. Many more activities were packed into the 12 day trip, all requiring early starts and late evenings. All the students were fantastic ambassadors for Cashmere High School, often impressing the guides with their knowledge and questioning skills. Of course, there was a lot of fun and laughter, too, with the whole group getting on really well together.

What are the main things we learned? We learned that these incredibly beautiful ecosystems, which have been in existence for millions of years, are under serious threat from the changes we humans are making to our planet. Increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are causing the oceans to become warmer and more acidified. These twin effects weaken corals and make them susceptible to severe damage from yearly cyclones and run off from farming and industry. The plants and animals of the rainforest suffer from encroaching land use for housing and farming, and some will be unable to adapt fast enough to cope with the rising temperatures. We need to protect these magnificent areas, and can help even from New Zealand through small steps like recycling and making sure waste does not reach the sea, and by supporting policies that lead to a sustainable future for all life on our planet. On the trip: Cameron Avery, Gaby Collie, Catherine Hattaway, Ross Hulley, Jemima Huston, Matthew McNeil, Tessa O’Brien, Ariana Painter, Jacob Paterson, Liam Patman, Riley Payne, Fiona Porter, Lawrence Sheddon, Nick Smith, Charlotte Sullivan, Ben Sutton, Mr Paterson, and Mrs Merchant . 

By David Paterson, HOD science, Cashmere High School.

EDUCATION & SOCIETY science education & the environment


ctually, New Zealand has an amazing renewable electricity supply – about 70 per cent plus, with a goal of 90 per cent by 2025. Transport, on the other hand, which accounts for around half our carbon emissions, is almost 100 per cent non-renewable and represents about half the energy used in New Zealand. Most of our transport energy is used in light passenger vehicles, not commercial trucks or airplanes. Therefore, transport is actually a key area to address for sustainability reasons in New Zealand. We especially need to find ways that can help our light passenger fleet. There’s a lot going on in this area, and New Zealand is at the forefront of some amazing research. For example: »» LanzaTech: Founded in 2005, LanzaTech produces low carbon fuels from waste gas resources. »» The University of Auckland: Researchers at AUT have developed electric vehicle charging technology. »» Scion’s involvement in Z and Norske Skog: Crown Research Institute Scion partners with Z Energy and Norske Skog’s ‘Stump to Pump’ programme to develop high-value fuel from low-value wood industry waste.

New Zealand’s



When people think about making energy sustainable, they tend to think ‘electricity’.


o there’s a future for New Zealand’s budding scientists in the sustainable transport space, and it’s some pretty futuristic sounding stuff that’s actually happening right now. Classroom discussion points »» Why do we need to find alternative sources of energy? »» What are the potential social consequences of producing and using biofuels? »» Who should decide about how land is used (food or fuel crops)? »» What are the pros and cons of government subsidies for biofuel crops? »» What are the greenhouse gas emissions from growing fuel on arable land? »» What are the environmental impacts of different biofuel crops? Are some biofuels ‘better’ than others? »» Here in New Zealand, what might some of the challenges be to getting biofuels used by the general public? 

This article was written with help from EECA: The Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

What are biofuels?

Biofuels are fuels made directly from living matter. They usually come in the form of biodiesel (as an alternative to diesel) and bioethanol (as an alternative to petrol). Biofuels are usually used as a blend with ordinary diesel or petrol. Biofuels emit less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels. One of the easiest things New Zealand drivers can do to help the environment is to start using sustainable biofuels.



This is similar to ordinary diesel This is similar to ordinary petrol but is made from vegetable oils or but is made from wastes and plants. In animal fats. It has good combustion and New Zealand, this can mean using products lubrication properties. derived from the dairy industry. Here in New Zealand, biodiesel is likely We also import sugarcane from Brazil to come from tallow (animal fat), for this purpose. Overseas, bioethanol is used cooking oil and rapeseed, which is made from maize (corn) and sugarbeet. grown as a break crop. In other Internationally, more than 200 million countries, biodiesel blends are vehicles are running on bioethanol-blended petrol. made from soy bean and New research is being done palm oil. constantly to find better biofuels. In the future, it’s likely we’ll have fuels created from wood by-products and/or household waste.

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New Zealand Science Teacher >> 39

LEARNING IN SCIENCE Innovative Science

ecoDriver project

motivates students

A programme that allows students to interpret their school’s energy use data has them engaged with sustainability concepts, writes MELISSA WASTNEY.


nless they’re paying the power bills, young people could be forgiven for not considering electricity use at their school. But a programme at Cashmere High School in Christchurch encourages them do exactly this, and the results are an increasingly energy-efficient school. ‘ecoDriver’ is an Enviroschools pilot project set up in three schools in Christchurch: Cashmere Primary, Linwood North, and Cashmere High School. Funded by the pilot programme, Cashmere High School had six ‘smart meters’ installed into the school switchboard to measure the electricity used every 30 minutes. Students and teachers use computers and large LCD screens to see a breakdown of their school’s current and recent energy use, thereby getting instant feedback from changes they make during the day (such as turning a classroom’s lights off during the lunch hour). Leith Cooper teaches science and physics at Cashmere High School and says the programme has been an exciting one to oversee. “We look online and plot graphs and charts about the energy we are using in the school. We can analyse the data in different ways, such as looking at how it relates to seasons, school activities, and other factors”, he says. “It’s been a powerful project for us to get involved in. The students at our school – across all year groups and abilities – have really run with it. The New Zealand Curriculum is all about real-life learning, and I think this project is a great example of that because the students are trying to figure out how to use energy in a sustainable way.” Leith says this tracking of energy use has multi-level and cross-curricular applications. “We’re always thinking, ‘how can we build this into our curriculum?’” he says. “It turns out it has elements of maths, physics, science, economics, and design. While younger students have the task of looking at the data, Year 13 statistics students are analysing it in a deeper way. “Because the students are passionate about their environment and respond well to the instant feedback of the data system, they are really engaged with the whole programme,” he says.


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Leith Cooper with some students, checking out ecoDriver online

This growing awareness of energy use has inspired students to think about how electricity is used in their own homes. Participating student Roland Eveleens appreciates the student-led nature of the project. “I see it as an opportunity for students to stand up and be the ones to drive change in their school through their own energy saving projects,” he says.

Where does the design come into it? The students have turned the energy use data into a full-blown political campaign featuring posters they designed themselves, and thoughtprovoking slideshows on global warming displayed on LCD screens around the school. The Sustainability Council is a group of 20 Year 9–13 students who meet on Thursdays and on Facebook to discuss environmental science

Cashmere High School students with one of the LCD screens installed in the school library

and take action. They organised for recycling bins and pot plants in each classroom in the school. The Sustainability Council also developed the ‘Switch It Off!’ campaign in term 2. The goal of the campaign was an eight per cent reduction of electricity usage via an educated behavioural change in the way electricity is used at Cashmere High School. ‘Switch It Off’ posters were put up in classrooms and corridors, and a two-minute pitch at the morning briefing alerted all staff to the goal. Similar pitches were presented at school assemblies and in the daily notices. In addition, students wrote articles about energy use for the school newsletter and are planning to run a competition to find the most energy-efficient department at the school.

What was the result? Leith says the school made an energy saving of nine per cent since students started their ‘Switch it Off!’ campaign. “Last month, we had a cracking month and saved ourselves $6,000, with a whopping 20 per cent reduction in electricity usage” he says. “Senior management were pretty happy about that, too,” he laughs. In term 4, the school is looking forward to bigger savings as the old fluorescent tubes in the school are replaced with energy-saving LED lights. “Students actually look forward to receiving our electricity bills now. They are excited to see how much electricity they have helped save each month.” 


Ice Science on

Echinoderms from an Antarctic dive hole

On the sea ice below majestic Mt Erebus, and just 300m from Scott’s Hut at Cape Evans, stands a small, lonely hut not much bigger than a tool shed. Inside, a kerosene heater keeps the air a few degrees above freezing so the dive hole remains open. Otago University’s Dr Miles Lamare works the PlayStation-type controller to manoeuvre a rover down to and along the sea floor. Twenty minutes later, a dozen spiny starfish and sea urchins are retrieved from the rover’s basket and carefully moved to -1.5 degree seawater in a chilly bin. Just in time, too. LEARNZ teacher Shelley Hersey has already retired to the Piston Bully, its engine warming the cab, to use the vehicle radio to connect to the Ministry of Education audiobridge and eventually to teacher Jessica Moore at Mt Hutt College. Her Year 7 students are raring to go with the first of their seven questions. Alex asks: What might Antarctica be like in the future with global warming and climate change going on? Miles explains that he and other scientists are working hard to find the answers. Part of this involves using geological science to find out what Antarctica was like in the past when the atmosphere was both colder and warmer than it is now. He explains that Antarctica may one day be covered in vegetation as it once was. So begins Day 2 of the LEARNZ Ocean Acidification virtual field trip. Later in the day, the precious cargo of echinoderms return with the science team to Scott Base – the echinoderms and their minders to the wet lab and Shelley and videographer/project director Pete Sommerville to a quiet space to begin the long process of packaging up today’s ‘the nature of science’ story. This includes creating videos from footage captured during the day of sea ice travel to

How do you get 2,500 students to Antarctica? PETE SOMMERVILLE explains.

Cape Evans; Captain Scott’s science from the inside of Terra Nova Hut; use of the remotely controlled vehicle (ROV); and an interview with Miles who explains the valuable growth observations made by Scott in 1912 of a bryozoan that today is used as the basis of evidence for recently observed responses to ocean change. While the videos are uploading, captions and question sets are created. Shelley writes her diary, a personal perspective with 10 of the best images of the day. Also uploaded are 360-degree interactive panoramas. Questions submitted to the ‘Ask-an-Expert’ web board are answered. Also during the evening the Year 7 class ‘Ambassadors’ (soft toys) write ‘their’ account of the day on their own web page – with a little help from Shelley! The aim is to get the day’s learning adventure online before 10pm. Sometimes it happens! 104 teachers have enrolled their class in this LEARNZ Antarctic virtual field trip. Ostensibly a six-day field trip, the first day actually covers the previous five days of travel south, Antarctic Field Skills course, skidoo training, and meetings with Scott Base staff and the science team. The next five days each have their own focus, with the overall aim being to experience science as it happens and facilitate student inquiry into climate change. During the week, students follow the fate of the echinoderms as Dr Maria Byrne, and her team encourage them to spawn then complete a range of experiments to determine the response of the embryos to changing temperature and salinity.

Authentic Science Education Ocean Acidification is a rare opportunity for students to be part of a multinational science team. They get to experience the excitement of working in a remote and pristine environment, the dynamics of being in a collaborative team, the frustration of dealing

with experimental issues in the lab and the fascination of seeing the science process dealing with tricky questions. Ocean Acidification is an inherently ambitious project – the interaction between ocean and atmosphere is a complex one, so the challenge is to identify key concepts (greenhouse effect, carbon cycle, pH and acidity, and food webs), and through a multimedia approach, connect the dots in the context of a science research project.

Taking students on a field trip LEARNZ virtual field trips are based around a team-teaching model where the classroom teacher ‘invites’ the LEARNZ teacher into their classroom. In the month before each field trip, students are able to work their way through online background information, reinforcing learning with a range of activities, including flash-based interactives. Engagement with this new knowledge provides the foundation for inquiry that subsequently drives student participation in the field trip. In the Ocean Acidification pre-field trip period, students prepared themselves to travel south with Shelley. Then, down the lens, through the microphone, and by text and still imagery, Shelley and her experts became members of the in-class community. The sound of their voices, their faces, their clothing, interests, and expertise become blended with the questions students seek answers to and the stories students take home at night. Web stats show 25–35 per cent of website accesses are from outside school hours and teacher comments report increased interest from home about student learning. Ocean Acidification is financed by the Ministry of Education LEOTC programme and the Air New Zealand Environment Trust and supported by Antarctica New Zealand. 

Pete Sommerville is LEARNZ project director for CORE Education. New Zealand Science Teacher >> 41

Putaiao MAori culture and science

Interconnections between

customary MAori knowledge and Western science Some intersections between Matauranga Ma-ori and Western science occur in meaningful contexts, writes IAN CLOTHIER. Abstract There is a conventional view that customary Ma- ori knowledge is in total contrast to Western scientific knowledge. Ma- ori knowledge is seen as based on reflection on nature, whereas Western science is seen as fact-based. Leaving aside the contentiousness of these views, if connections are sought, not only are there overlaps or intersections, but some occur in significant contexts. My perspective on this question is strongly influenced by working with Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru on four curatorial projects – in Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Albuquerque, and New Plymouth – and I am grateful for the influence he has had. Dr Waikerepuru is a true visionary and leader, boldly putting forward important facets of deep knowledge.1

Preliminary notes Firstly, some caution needs to be taken as there are sensitivities around traditional Ma- ori knowledge that demand a level of respect and acknowledgement. This sense of respect is important. It is acknowledged by the writer and expected of the reader that care needs to be observed. Secondly, I myself am not Ma-ori, so I can only report on what I have seen and heard. I refer to myself as a hybrid Polynesian, and this hybrid heritage has given me a view across the cultural and ideological boundaries of both the Western European culture and that of Polynesia. My sense of culture stems from a mix of Tahitian and Old English, and as it is the sea that joins these places and those where I live, I say I come from the sea.


Ma-ori society has developed in Aotearoa since ca. 1100-1300CE, where in preEuropean times, a multi-level and sophisticated culture was established. This culture had a complex and stratified philosophy that extended far past animism and deep into the characteristics of nature, as will be discussed. Some artefacts of the culture are acknowledged widely as among the most sophisticated in realisation – for 42

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example, being held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris, and numerous others. The convention of defining cultures by tools does not really hold for Ma- ori . Western science tradition is mainly rooted in post-Renaissance method and enquiry (though it stems from further back to Grecian and Hellenistic times). Developed over several centuries, it is presently strongly attached to the notion of empiricism and testability, although branches of endeavour such as quantum physics regularly ask questions beyond the scope of perceptibility. A considerable renaissance of Western thinking occurred in the 20th century with the development of Quantum Theory and Chaos Theory. Fixed positions and a clockwork universe have been replaced by relativity, probabilities, and uncertainty in the quanta, and while once seen as random, nature is now understood to have an enfolded order in the chaos.


Integrated systems Both Quantum Theory and Chaos Theory address at some point, notions of integrated systems2. Quantum Theory can be used to explain the table of elements, uniting all that is chemically composed. Chaos Theory has been used to provide mathematical algorithms for stock price data analysis and can explain the structure of coastlines, mountains, the distribution of galaxies and the weather. The world view of Ma- ori is one where all things are interconnected. For the exhibition Uncontainable Second Nature Te Kore Rongo Hungaora at the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA) in Istanbul in 20113,

Dr Waikerepuru composed a chart of Ma- ori cosmology Te Taiao Ma- ori. This chart firstly refers to three kinds of Potentiality. A second layer contains Elements of the Universe (such as Time, Space, Interaction, and others). There is then a layer of Whakapapa (or genealogy) that includes among a number of aspects: Sun, Earth, Moon, Myriad Stars and Meteorites. A fourth layer involves Elements of Natural Law such as Peace or Balance, Wind, and Earthquakes, among others. This traverse of Potentiality through to Wind via Interaction and Meteorites reveals clearly the interconnectedness of all things in the worldview of Ma- ori4. Energistic conceptions The Quantum view of a stone as something that is teeming with energy has exact correlation in the world of Ma- ori. For Istanbul, Ma- ori contemporary artist Jo Tito contributed a painted rock, which is seen as containing the story of the formation of the rock, its travel down the mountain to the river bed, its selection by Dr Waikerepuru, the trip to Tito’s studio, the journey to Istanbul, and its final placement in the exhibition. Of course, in more traditional situations, a rock may have additional levels of meaning. The point here is that seeing a rock as inanimate is not supported by either Ma- ori customary knowledge or Quantum science. Life emerged from water One of the most conventional notions of science is that life emerged from water. This is generally taken to refer to fish becoming amphibious, walking onto land, developing two feet, and eventually, evolving into the human species. Ma- ori also refer to life emerging from water, making particular reference to the waters of birth, although this is combined with a Astronomy images, 2011, Paul Moss, photograph and vinyl print.

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The world view of Ma-ori is one where all things are interconnected.

Detail from a chart which places Papatuanuku as Revolving Earth.

comprehension of the interconnective nature of wai (which means water or flow). Wai flows down rivers to the sea and up into the air where it is breathed in, integrating all. Wai was the name of the curated selection of projects for exhibition at ISEA 2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Following a practice that Dr Waikerepuru stated was important, for the exhibition, I worked with local promoter Gordon Bronitsky, eventually achieving both a Navajo or Dineh musical component to the project – and also the presence of a medicine man at the opening, which resulted in both Ma- ori and Navajo components to the tomo whakaari (dawn opening), an extraordinary event. A third, more typical European opening occurred in the evening, and this multiple sense of opening I have discussed as a hybridisation of the culture of openings5. Revolving Earth One of the videos in Wai was made for the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences and includes an interview with Dr Waikerepuru. In it, he gives his translation of Papatuanuku as Revolving Earth, which was also a feature of the Te Taiao Ma- ori chart for Istanbul. This has 100 per cent agreement with the Western science view of Earth. It is more conventional to translate Papatuanuku as Earth Mother. However, Dr Waikerepuru’s point of view is that the process of colonisation involved compressing Ma- ori knowledge into a form that was understandable by colonisers. Anthropic Principle The anthropomorphising of nature is often associated with indigenous or aboriginal societies. This is due to the enlivening of what were thought by the West to be ‘inanimate’ objects such as carved wood figures, with symbols and meaning. This may seem far from the territory of Western science. However, there is a numerical convergence of “the gravitational constant, the mass of the proton, the age of the universe” as Penrose wrote6. According

to Western science, there is a peculiarity between the age of the universe and how long it would take to go from chemicals in space to life on Earth. It had been thought that humanity was probably a by-product of universal forces, rather than intricately tied to it “give or take a few million years” (ibid.). The name for this idea is Anthropic Principle, with both strong and weak senses of the term and no one challenging the numbers. Anthropomorphising as a subject consequently is being re-examined in Western science, as scientists have been forced to consider the problematics of the Anthropic Principle. But this is another point of connection, quite unexpected, of a meeting of the ideologies of Ma- ori and Western science. Cosmological context Finally, there is one level of connection that connects not just Ma- ori and Western science but most cultures on Earth. Cosmological context, where conceptions of reality involve an awareness of the moon, sun, stars, planets, and galaxies is a component of thinking worldwide. Photo-astronomy by Paul Moss was included in Uncontainable Second Nature Te Kore Rongo Hungaora and in 3rd Nature7. For Cultura Digital in Rio de Janeiro and again in 3rd Nature in New Plymouth, the chart Dr Waikerepuru had written for Istanbul was animated, with slowly rotating stars in the background, a form of presentation readily assimilable by the audience.

Photo-astronomy was not the only science included in the Istanbul, Rio, and New Plymouth exhibitions. The electromagnetic sensory world of sharks by evolutionary biologist Associate Professor Mike Paulin of Otago University was a computer model of a dogfish and the Earth’s electromagnetic sphere (the interaction of sonar and electromagnetic sphere is the means by which the dogfish navigates and hunts). This work of science also strongly referenced integrated systems (the shark is integrated to its environment) and energistic conceptions of nature while weakly referring to the notion of life emerging from the sea.

Summary I have discussed a number of points of connection between customary Maori knowledge and Western science: Integrated systems, Energistic conceptions, Life emerged from water, Revolving Earth, Anthropic Principle, and Cosmological context. Clearly some of these are significant. This discussion is a signpost to greater levels of commonality in thinking across Western and indigenous cultural borders. Once the notion of a sole proprietor of truth is entirely dissolved, the framework around knowledge can be seen as a cultural structure. This shifts the boundary of ‘truth’ to inside ‘culture’: as such, the border between cultural knowledge systems is shifting, in the current era of a new connected consciousness. 

Ian Clothier is director of Intercreate Research Centre.

References and Notes 1. For queries and further information regarding the contributions of Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru go to 2. A useful introduction to issues around Quantum Theory can be found in Alastair Rae, Quantum physics: illusion or reality. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press 1986). Those searching for contemporary updates should look into Quantum Loop Theory. A broad introduction to Chaos is provided in James Gleick, Chaos: making a new science. (London: Heinemann, 1988). A deeper understanding can be obtained from D. Hofstadter. Godel, Escher, Bach: an eternal golden braid. (London: Penguin Books, 1979). 3. See Lanfranco Aceti (2011), Uncontainable, accessed 7 July 2013. 4. Parallels between post-structural ideas, Polynesian worldview, Quantum Theory and Chaos Theory can be found in I. Clothier, “Leonardo, nonlinearity and integrated systems” in Leonardo (Volume 41 Number 1 pp. 49-55, 2008). 5. The paper Transcontinental hybridity is not yet published but was presented at the Hybrid City symposium in Athens. See 6. The anthropic principle is discussed by S Hawking, A Brief History of Time. (New York: Bantam Books, 1988) and Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999). 7. For images of works in the exhibition, go to New Zealand Science Teacher >> 43

Putaiao MAori culture and science


Scientific discussions ranging from the invention of 3D printed chocolate biscuits to kelp farming were kindled on Pounamu. MELISSA WASTNEY joined in the conversation.

proves to be a science communication treasure


new online game brought scientists and the general public together in conversation and collaboration in late August of this year. The game was Pounamu: a free, browser-based science communication tool that could be played by anyone, anywhere there’s an internet connection. It’s based on the belief that every idea counts, and it all began with a simple question: Imagine it is 2023. What will you do with the capacities science will give you?

How did the game work? In order to join in, players registered on the Pounamu website, watched an explanatory video, and created an avatar. The game went live on August 29 and took place for 24 hours. Various ‘hubs’ were set up around New Zealand, both as a public demonstration and for those without internet connections. These spaces included Te Papa, selected branches of Auckland libraries, The Gap Filler ‘Pallet Pavillion’ café in Christchurch, and Otago Museum in Dunedin. To take part, participants posted ‘micro-forecasts’ or concise ideas (similar to tweets) of future possibilities then were able to build on or reshape other players’ ideas. ‘Points’ were gained by posting ideas that created further discussion and also by those that contributed interesting and original thoughts. Players could also build on the ideas posted by other players. During the game, players were encouraged to think about what they could do to improve life within their own communities, and as a result, all sorts of conversations were sparked.

Who created the game? Pounamu is a collaboration between the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, StratEDGY 44

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Strategic Foresight, and Professor Shaun Hendy, winner of the Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication prize and author of the new science book Get Off The Grass. The game is also run with the support of the ‘Institute for the Future’ on their Foresight Engine platform. This is a tool for bringing people together to think about issues that are important to them in ways that pool their different knowledge and perspectives.

A new way to communicate science The game was first trialled in 2012 in conjunction with the Transit of Venus Forum, where it proved to be an effective tool for encouraging scientists and the public to think in the long term. Shaun Hendy says the trial of the game was exciting, especially the direct engagement with the public. “I’d never experienced anything like it before. Often as a scientist, you’re standing on a podium lecturing rather than having a genuine conversation with people. I love the way this game encourages a dialogue between people.” And it certainly did that on August 29 and 30, when the game ran for 24 hours from 12 noon on Thursday 29 August to 12 noon on Friday 30 August. Pounamu coordinators say there were 349 players producing 6,986 ideas.

What did the Pounamu players discuss? One of the first discussions explored the idea of innovative housing insulation, and indeed, future housing proved a popular discussion topic on Pounamu. Another conversation explored futures for the role of iwi regarding intellectual property for botanical pharmaceuticals.

One fascinating thread expanded on a paradigm shift where most disease is prevented rather than cured. And yet another investigated the nexus between academic publication, funding, and open access. The game received positive feedback, and Shaun Hendy says the players seemed to have a lot of fun with the format. “This is the second time we’ve run it, and the conversations were much deeper this time,” he says. If you’re interested in digging deeper into the conversations on Pounamu, you are able to download the data from

In a regular science class, you might one day have a scientist come along and give a talk, and maybe you could ask a few questions. But with the Pounamu format, the students are able to have a deep conversation with a large number of scientists.

Pounamu in schools Shaun says that this year, the Pounamu facilitators were really pleased to see school students getting involved in the game. Some schools around the country set up special Pounamu hubs on campus for students to join in. “Some of the students’ ideas received a lot of discussion, which was very cool to see,” he says. “It’s a great way for students to interact with scientists directly. In a regular science class, you might one day have a scientist come along and give a talk, and maybe you could ask a few questions. But with the Pounamu format, the students are able to have a deep conversation with a large number of scientists. “So, if you’re interested in solar power or saving endangered animals, you’re able to actually talk about those issues with some leading New Zealand scientists working in the field, and others can join in on the conversation, too.” Science teachers: make a note in your diaries. One idea for next year is to run a separate Pounamu game event specifically for New Zealand schools. “We’ve realised that adults and school students want to play at different times of the day,” he says. “There might be some benefit at targeting the game at the different audiences.”

What happens after the game? Even though Pounamu is played in ‘real time’, the conversations won’t be lost. Shaun says that at the end of the game period, a complete record of the conversations was preserved. “We intend to analyse the work and digest the conversations and present the material back to people who played as well as those who didn’t. We’re having an exhibition at the National Library later this year, and people will be able to see what kinds of conversations took place”, says Shaun. 

Putaiao MAori culture and science

The science of

Te Reo Maori I

remember trying to explain to someone that the Ma-ori word for tree – ra-kau – contains the science of photosynthesis. You should have seen the reaction. How could that possibly be science? That is ridiculous. Are you kidding me? There is no way that that is science! And so I continue to explain: ra-kau is the Ma-ori word for tree. What is a tree? What does it represent? How is a tree made? What is its form, its structure? What makes it grow? How does a tree contribute to the whole? How can it be used when it is living? How can it be used when it is dead? How does a tree support the land? How does the land support a tree? ra-kau – RA is the Ma-ori word for sun. The sun enables growth. Without the sun, that tree can’t grow. Without light (sun), photosynthesis cannot take place. ra-kau – AKA is the Ma-ori word for vine or roots. The roots of a tree bring water to the other parts of the plant that enable it to grow. The roots also bring stability to a tree. ra-kau – U is to be firm or fixed like a tree. A strong foundation. It also means to arrive by water (a vessel) just like the vines are vessels that carry water to the other parts of the plant. ra-kau - AU is Ma-ori for I, me. What is my connection to that tree? How does the tree and me fit into the whole? Connection. So all this contained in one word! And this is just the short of it. What if science was as simple as this? What if science embraced curiosity and questions as a way to the answers? What if science embraced the conceptual Ma-ori language as a science itself? What if we all spoke te reo Ma-ori and understood science in this way? What if all scientists could speak te reo Ma-ori? What if all science was taught in te reo Ma-ori ? These are the questions I had as I dived into the world of Pounamu. I was curious to see what sorts of conversations would emerge.

It’s nothing new to Ma-ori that science is embedded within te reo Ma-ori, but it’s hard to convince people otherwise. My putting it out there in Pounamu both last year at Transit of Venus and this year was to generate conversation and get people’s views. As those involved may have seen, some interesting conversations emerged. I must add it is quite a sensitive subject for me – something that I believe in and want to protect – but at the same time, I want people to at least see this perspective. Some people during the game were actually shocked at some of the things I was posing. But that is the beauty of te reo Ma-ori – it is really as simple as a ra-kau standing there in the landscape and asking all those questions that come up, and acknowledging the curiosities of our tamariki – that they have value, that those questions they ask as young as two or three are not dumb questions and could actually one day – be the catalyst to change within the science world down the track somewhere. Last year during the Transit of Venus, a player emailed me when it was all over and we had conversations for a while about te reo Ma-ori and issues facing all New Zealanders. He was a Pa-kehamiddle-aged male, now retired, and I am a Ma-ori artist from Taranaki and Te Arawa with a passion for te reo Ma-ori and science. Change takes time and I see conversations like this and things like Pounamu as wonderful ways to bring together people to share conversations. People don’t have to agree. But if we can meet in the middle somewhere and at least take a look at the other’s view point, then that is progress. Some people are not ready for that, others are. So where’s all this leading? What I want is for this world view to be recognised within the world of science. Not just as an appendage, or an add on, a bit like ‘dial a pa-hiri’ – you know when Ma-ori are called

And so I continue to explain: ra-kau is the Ma-ori word for tree. What is a tree? What does it represent? How is a tree made? What is its form, its structure? What makes it grow? How does a tree contribute to the whole? How can it be used when it is living? How can it be used when it is dead? How does a tree support the land? How does the land support a tree?

Waipoua Kauri Forest

The Pounamu science communication game sparked some interesting conversations between New Zealand thinkers. One such conversation began: What if all science was taught in te reo Ma-ori? JO TITO explains.

up to carry out the ritual of an event – but something that joins other fields of science like biology and chemistry and physics, earth science. Why not Ma-ori science or te reo Ma-ori ? The knowledge is all there and there are so many examples out there. I worry about our tamariki – Ma-ori , especially, because the current education system is not a good fit. In fact it’s not just about Ma-ori – there are plenty of non-Ma-ori kids who do not fit into this system. We need to make science accessible. It needs to be simple, easy to understand, and meet all learning styles. It has to be visual, creative, tactile, aural – all those things. I also believe that science needs to be learner led.  New Zealand Science Teacher >> 45

CURRICULUM & LITERACY Planet Earth & Beyond

Astronomers’ fascinating search for extrasolar planets provides rich material for our students, writes GAVIN MILNE.

The continued search for

extrasolar planets I

t is estimated that every star in the universe on average has one extrasolar planet orbiting around it. That means hundreds of billions of planets in our galaxy alone. Scientists have estimated that there are at least 17 billion planets similar to Earth waiting to be discovered. There have been about 942 extrasolar planets discovered so far and that number increases daily – the latest published discovery was POTS-1b on September 2. By the time this is published, there will be over a thousand. Scientists’ interest in extrasolar planets is obvious – the chance to discover the first Earth-like planet outside our own solar system would give pretty impressive bragging rights. Scientists are looking for a planet around the same size as Earth, at a distance from its host star just right to have liquid water and with a detectable atmosphere. Some scientists suggest that a moon and its ability to create tides and seas, plus a hot interior which allows plate tectonics and the recycling of matter such as carbon, allowing plate tectonics are all necessary requirements for life to spawn. The goal, of course, is to find out: Are we alone?


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Surprisingly, we can detect and measure all of these things, even though we are studying mere specks of light. The closest extrasolar planet is just over four light years away, while the farthest are far outside the galaxy. Extrasolar planets are (with a few exceptions) far too small and dim to see, so detection involves looking at their effects on the host star. There are a range of methods we use to detect these planets, and I will discuss the main ones below. It must be pointed out that detecting these small specks of light somewhere in the galaxy

involves telescopes searching small areas of the night sky endlessly, year after year, looking for some variation. Only then can the big telescopes zoom in to try and tighten down the details. The SuperWASP search telescope, which is, in fact, two observatories each with eight telescopes working in unison, has been searching the same area of sky for almost a decade and discovered over 80 planets. In one fell swoop, KEPLER space telescope has detected over three thousand, with 134 confirmed extrasolar planets in only four years of operation.

Wobbly stars and ice skaters

The most successful method of detection involves what physicists refer to as the Doppler shift of light. In much the same way as the pitch of an ambulance siren increases as it comes towards you and decreases as it travels away, the light of a host star does the same. The star wobbles on its axis due to tug of gravity from the invisible planet orbiting it. Imagine two ice-skaters holding hands as they pirouette, spinning in little circles around each other. This radial velocity causes the light from the star to change colour – to become slightly bluer or redder, depending on whether the star is moving towards or away from the observer on Earth. Considering that stars are moving through the cosmos at thousands of kilometres an hour, we can measure a change in velocity of a star of only one metre per second, which is an incredible feat.

Passing planets

The other main method of detection also measures tiny changes in the light from a star. This time, it’s a small drop in brightness as a planet passes in front of the surface, blocking some of the rays intended for us. This transit, similar to a solar eclipse but much smaller, may last a few hours and occurs every time the planet orbits. Some planets orbit so close to their host star, they sweep around in less than a day; in comparison, Mercury takes 88 days. ‘Close’ means a hot planet, like Jupiter, and while common, these so-called ‘Hot Jupiters’ are not what we are looking for. An Earth-sized planet would have a much longer period and be much smaller. Think of a moth passing in front of a streetlight a few kilometres away. You need to be looking at the right spot at the right time and measuring very carefully. This actually can be – and has been – done by school students here in New Zealand. Other planets in the system will tug at the planet transiting, making it either speed up or slow down as it orbits. Astronomers

Direct imaging

are now measuring transits accurately enough to detect these Transit Timing Variations and whole solar systems have now been detected. An exciting goal would be to detect a moon orbiting an extrasolar planet by this very method. As we now know, while planets may not be habitable, moons might be.


The third main method of detection very much involves a certain amount of luck. Einstein predicted that gravity bends light and a star with a lot of gravity behaves just like an interstellar magnifying glass. If conditions are right and a close star passes directly in front of a distant one, the magnifying effect produces a small but detectable flash of light. If the foreground star has a planet, then the lens is slightly dirty and flash is not smooth. Scientists use computer modeling to analyse these bumpy ‘light-curves’ and pull out the planet hidden there. This method is called gravitational microlensing and New Zealand astronomers are up there with world leaders in this field. In fact, one of the largest search telescopes in the world is the MOA telescope at Mt John University Observatory in Canterbury, which scans a small section of the southern sky every clear night for microlensing events.

Scientists’ interest in extrasolar planets is obvious – the chance to discover the first Earth-like planet outside our own solar system would give pretty impressive bragging rights.

If you have a large enough telescope (5m+), you can actually detect the extrasolar planet itself. The light reflected from its surface will be very dim, and will be hidden by the enormous glare of its host star. Advances like adaptive optics, which remove much of the distortion created by Earth’s atmosphere to the wonderful sounding Vortex Coronagraph that can block the light from the star, bring the extrasolar planet into sight. This direct imaging is still in its infancy, but scientists hope that with improvements in technology, telescopes smaller than those currently needed will be capable of this research.

How can we apply this to our classroom teaching?

An important question to ask is the relevance of this research to our students. The new Earth and Space Science subject field is ideally geared to use extrasolar planets as subject material, both at Level 2 and 3. The search for Earthlike planets is both a scientific and a societal one. Detection of these planets is not difficult. Indeed, students in Auckland have already used their schools’ observatory to detect a transiting extrasolar planet. The basic telescope equipment is not hugely expensive and is widely available. Unfortunately the expertise and experience is less common. The huge leaps in technology, as well as the widespread use of the internet, means that schools don’t even have their own observatory. The future of astronomy in education is the remote observatory and some schools are currently investigating this option. If we can train our students in observational and astrophysical astronomy while still at school, then the future of science, especially physics and astrophysics, is looking optimistic. 

Gavin Milne is HOD Science at Dilworth School. Look for further extrasolar planet articles by Gavin Milne on the New Zealand Science Teacher website over the next year New Zealand Science Teacher >> 47

EDUCATION & SOCIETY science education & the environment

Towards a deeper understanding

of biodiversity GABRIELLE GUNN and KAZ BARTSCH explain their integrated approach to exploring New Zealand’s unique biodiversity through science and art.

How to engender awareness, engagement, and a deeper understanding of New Zealand’s unique biodiversity and its significance? How to move beyond a familiarity of terminology to the underlying concepts? This was our challenge. Linking the creative and methodical aspects of science and art – as was commonly done in scientific explorations in the past – seemed an ideal way for us to enhance our Year 10 students’ personal engagement and understanding of New Zealand’s unique biodiversity in both subject areas. It has highlighted the importance of creativity in science and the inherent value of observational drawing both historically, (e.g. Banks and Darwin) and currently. This kind of drawing is a way for the students themselves to develop a greater understanding of structure and make connections between the organisms and their environment. In art classes, the depth of research meant that the students genuinely had something to say that they knew something about. This set up intrinsic motivation for them to express their ecological ideas in a multi-layered print. They learnt two techniques of printmaking and combined these to produce unique personal representations of what they had been studying in science.

How we linked science and art Working in groups, the students focused their research on one indigenous plant species and two indigenous animals of their choice. The end product in science was a poster (either handmade or electronic), produced individually, which shows the relationships between the plant and animals they chose to study. These had to be related in time or habitat. The students presented their poster to the class and discussed these relationships, and their significance and place in New Zealand. The programme in science included the reviewing of basic ecological concepts (pretest), watching relevant, thought-provoking, Wild South videos and discussing these. Because we are a Wellington school, we were able to spend time at Zealandia. Such trips involved informative walks with Zealandia educators and opportunities to 48

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sketch and take notes in the same way biologists did in the past. Students also spent time in the information centre, adding to their understanding of New Zealand’s geological history and unique flora and fauna. Susan Keall (senior technical officer – conservation, School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University of Wellington) made a valuable contribution to our programme by making an interesting presentation at the school and bringing Spike the tuatara ambassador. Students had access to the school library and computers for research. Librarian Karen Richards has developed a comprehensive programme to support the students with their research. The information gathered in science is recorded on SOLO taxonomy templates and the students evaluate their progress using SOLO selfassessment grids. (Pam Hooke Meanwhile in art, students researched printmaking techniques and used SOLO taxonomy templates to provide structure for their in-depth analysis. They looked at a variety of printmakers including Sheyne Tuffery, and then, when their science research was complete, began planning and executing a series of prints using collagraph and woodcutting techniques. The depth of their research in science was apparent in the sophistication of their image making and we felt that having the opportunity to really delve into the subject matter and become ‘experts’ has allowed for a greater level of ‘buy in’ when it comes to developing imagery. The research element is also a good taster for developing scientific ideas the following year at NCEA Level 1. Having the opportunity to use their research in developing the artwork made the design and printmaking process more meaningful to the students.

“Through this print, I am trying to make people more aware of the endangered species of the Karearea (New Zealand Falcon) and that we should save it from extinction and the effects that deforestation would have upon it. I placed my bird flying towards the trees to demonstrate its desperate search for vegetation.” Caitlin Cresswell, Year 10, 2013 “In my background, I made silhouettes of pests … I only put these in the background, not in the foreground because lots of people don’t think about the effect these animals have on the native species of New Zealand … I generally placed the tuatara away from the end with the pests, as the pests do damage to the tuatara and need to be kept away.” Tallulah Farrar, Year 10, 2013

Summary The science–art integrated project enhanced the students’ understanding of New Zealand’s ecology and encouraged them to take ownership of their learning (through SOLO) in both subjects. This unit of work has evolved over the last three years and will continue to do so with analysis of, and reflection, on student and teacher feedback. Our next developments include encouraging all science students to produce an electronic poster, which could incorporate their own sketches (scanned), photos they have taken and text from research. 

Caitlin Cresswell

Tallulah Farrar

Year 10 ecology

Student reflection Videos were made of students discussing their work. In 2011 (we hope to do this each year), a number of the students’ artworks were put on display at the parent interview evenings with QR codes connecting to these videos so the parents could view the students’ explanations of the rationale behind their work. Examples include: and Following are examples of written work the students produced during the project.

Acknowledgements Year 10 science teachers at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School: Susan Binns, Charlotte McCarthy, Jennifer Stacey; John Denton (HOD Art); Karen Richards (Librarian).

Kaz Bartsch (art) and Gabrielle Gunn (HOD Science) are teachers at Samuel Marsden Collegiate School.

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 49


Let’s talk about

scientific literacy The opportunity for leadership sits with science teachers, writes JACQUIE BAY.


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Attitudes towards Science Nature of Science

Culture of Science Process of Science

Concepts of Science

Components of Scientific Literacy to consider in learning programme design. (Contexts and engagement levels adapted from OECD 2006 & 2013)


eveloping the knowledge, skills and competencies associated with scientific literacy is a key purpose of science education, enabling both citizenship science and future science workforce development. However this purpose of science education continues to be variably understood within our communities. This article examines definitions of scientific literacy and its place in our curriculum. It challenges the New Zealand science education community to engage with the wider community, lay and professional, in discussion around what scientific literacy means in 21st century New Zealand and why it is critically important. For many teachers, the pathway leading to the vocation of education comes about via an accumulation of experiences that reveal the value of education to society. For me, one such experience was participating as a science student in an undergraduate paper on the philosophy of education. A section of this course examined the relationship between literacy, opportunity and wellbeing and I was introduced to the concept of functional literacy for citizenship. Through participating in this discourse I developed a deeper appreciation of the value of literacy at a personal, community and societal level. I now find myself contributing within a similar general studies course on communication for a knowledge society. My focus with the students is exploration of functional scientific literacy for citizenship. While the concepts are different, the associations are similar. Basic literacy skills enable improved access to employment, health and social services. Scientific literacy enables informed personal, community and societal decision-making in relation to socioscientific issues impacting health, social, environmental and economic wellbeing.

The Importance of Scientific Literacy The term ‘scientific literacy for citizenship’ is

not new. It has been in use since the 1940s, associated with an understanding of science and its application within, and value to society (Bybee et al, 2009). In 1949 the advisers to the US President made recommendations for science education intended to “achieve a higher degree of scientific literacy amongst citizens” to enable better decision-making about the use of science in society (Meister, 1949, p9). Interestingly, in 2013 we continue to grapple with these issues. However they are magnified by the increasing complexity of the relationship between science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and society. In 2013 the New Zealand National Science Challenge Panel highlighted this in the development of the “Science and New Zealand Society Challenge”. While this sits beyond the criteria for the main Challenges, the Panel stated that they see this “…as the most important and of the highest priority, and implementation of this Challenge should be regarded as critical” (NSCP, 2013, p33). This Challenge addresses issues across science communication, translation and education, requiring an ongoing inter-sectorial response that must include contributions from the compulsory education sector. The environment created by schooling, including the potential for interaction between science, school, family and community, offers a significant opportunity to enable improved long-term scientific literacy. As a sector, we would do well to start by reviewing the recommendations of the 2011 Science Education for the Twenty-First Century report from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser (OPMSAC, 2011). This report identified the need for an increasing awareness of the

importance of scientific literacy development as a key purpose of science education (Bull et al, 2010). It also recommended that communities should be supported to develop a shared understanding of the purposes of science education at different stages of development (Bay et al, 2010). This is an essential step in enabling the role of science in advancing social, environmental and economic wellbeing. This society-wide discussion needs to be led by the science education community. It requires science teachers to engage in conversation about scientific literacy and science education with families, educators outside of science, scientists, engineers, health professionals, and the wider community. This has the potential to impact positively for New Zealand if through dialogue we can achieve greater understanding within the science, business and government sectors of what education programmes that support scientific literacy development look like. Therefore as science educators, we need to be able to clearly articulate what scientific literacy is, why it is important and how we are supporting young people to develop these capabilities.

Defining Scientific Literacy Definitions of scientific literacy, while variable, all relate to the ability of a person to use scientific knowledge and understanding in decision-making at a personal, community and societal level (Bybee, 1997; Laugksch, 2000; Millar and Osborne, 1998; Millar, 2008). The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has established a consensus definition of scientific literacy alongside tools to assess its development. The initial PISA frameworks New Zealand Science Teacher >> 51


(2000/2003) defined scientific literacy as “…the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions in order to understand and help make decisions about the natural world and the changes made to it through human activity.” (OECD, 2003, p133). The 2006 PISA framework expanded and clarified this definition (Box 2). This identifies the components of scientific knowledge as knowledge of and knowledge about science. The relationship between ONE: The Science science and technology, indicated and New Zealand by the final phrase of the 2003 Society Challenge definition, is clarified and expanded, Science Goal: To ensure the science capacities reminding us that cultural context and literacy of New Zealand society so as to promote is significant in the application engagement between Science & Technology and of knowledge. Finally this New Zealand society, in turn enhancing the role played by definition introduces the role science in advancing the national interest of attitudes towards science Societal Goal: To allow New Zealand society to make best within scientific literacy. use of its human and technological capacities to address Graphical representation the risks and challenges ahead. This requires the better (opposite page) of this framework use of scientific knowledge in policy formation at all highlights the inter-relationship levels of national and local government, in the between factors required to support private sector and in society as a whole. application of scientific literacy (NSC 2013, p34) and remind us that this is by nature contextual.

TWO: PISA 2006 Definition of Scientific Literacy

Scientific Literacy in the context of The New Zealand Curriculum The New Zealand Curriculum

(NZC) contains clear statements that support the development of the knowledge, skills and Scientific literacy refers to an individual’s: competencies associated with Scientific knowledge and use of that knowledge to identify questions, acquire new knowledge, explain scientific scientific literacy. phenomena and draw evidence-based conclusions about science“In science, students related issues. explore how both the Understanding of the characteristic features of science as a form of natural physical world and human knowledge and enquiry. science itself work so that they can participate as critical, Awareness of how science and technology shape our material, intellectual, and cultural environments. informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays Willingness to engage in science-related issues and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen. a significant role” (New Zealand Curriculum, 2007, p17). (OECD 2006, p23) The NZC does not make reference specifically to scientific literacy. However it provides a description of what can be achieved by offering children and THREE: New Zealand adolescents the opportunity to study Curriculum: science (Box 3). This could equally Why study science? be a description of what can be achieved by education programmes By studying science, students: that facilitate scientific literacy Develop an understanding of the world, built on current development as defined in the scientific theories. 2006 PISA framework. Learn that science involves particular processes and ways of developing The structure of the and organising knowledge and that these continue to evolve. science learning area within Use their current scientific knowledge and skills for problem solving and developing further knowledge. the NZC, combined with the integration of key competencies Use scientific knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about the communication, application, and implications of and cross-curricula support of science as these relate to their own lives and cultures mathematics, technology, health and and to the sustainability of the environment. PE, social studies and English offers the (NZ Curriculum 2007, p28) potential for a strong framework within (NSC 2013, p34) which science education programmes can support scientific literacy development. 52

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However the naming of the CoRes science learning strand Nature of Science (NoS) may have caused some unintended confusion as it is in fact broader than this title suggests. My observations from working with teachers across Years 7-13, mainly in Auckland schools, is that very active discussion is continuing with regard to the development of NoS capabilities. However I believe we could benefit from increasing the breadth of these discussions to explore the place of NoS understanding within the broader construct of scientific literacy. But before we do this, we need to clarify the difference between scientific literacy and literacy for science.

Scientific Literacy vs Literacy for Science Scientific literacy draws upon capabilities associated with reading and mathematical literacies (Norris and Phillips 2003). It also requires application of thinking skills and competencies associated with cooperation and collaboration, many of which are defined in the Key Competencies within the NZC. However it is important that we differentiate between scientific literacy and literacy for science. Literacy for science describes the reading and mathematical literacy skills required to engage with science presented as text, graphics, or verbal information. This information may be transmitted via print, web, broadcast or live presentation and can occur in school, the media, the wider community, or from within the science community itself. Therefore in order to access scientific information, there is an increasingly important need for skills related to accessing and navigating technological systems available to the individual including the social media, apps and internet based communications. This skill-base related to literacy for science cannot be totally dissociated from knowledge and understanding of science. For instance, through science, students will develop knowledge and understanding of science specific symbols and vocabulary. However scientific literacy will also call on broader skills that are learnt across the curriculum (including in science). These include interpretation of graphs and diagrams. This suggests that literacy for science is not isolated from scientific literacy, however scientific literacy is a much broader concept.

Facilitating Scientific Literacy Development Achieving the goal of a society that uses scientific knowledge in decision making should start in school. It requires learning programmes that focus on the inter-relationship between ALL of the objectives stated in the NZC, to enable enactment of the final statement in the NoS strand “Students will bring a scientific perspective to decisions and actions as appropriate” (MoE 2007). In the development of learning programmes within LENScience we consider how each of the components of learning shown in illustration on previous page, will contribute to enable students

Knowledge • About the natural world (knowledge of science) • About science itself (knowledge about science)

Requires people to

Competencies Context Life situations that involve science and technology

• Identify scientific issues • Explain phenomena scientifically • Use scientific evidence

to bring a scientific perspective to decisionmaking. Our programmes are contextualised in exploration of health-related socio-scientific issues. By using a portfolio of evidence to examine knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of students prior to and again after learning experiences, we can assess whether their learning is supporting them to bring a scientific perspective to their decisions and actions. Working with teachers of 11-14 year olds from participating schools we have shown that learning programmes focused on development of scientific competencies through exploration of an issue of relevance to the students, is supporting scientific literacy development. Interestingly, students are also taking their scientific thinking into the home, and in some cases supporting application of this in familylevel decision-making (Bay et al, 2012). Ours is just one of a number of innovative programmes that we know can support scientific literacy development, if schools are provided with the resource required. Earlier this year Bruce Alberts, Editor-in-Chief of Science noted that resourcing for innovative science education was a continuing issue. He also points out that scientists have done more than anyone else to create a situation where for too long students in schools have been told about science and asked to remember facts rather than being given the opportunity to learn how to think scientifically (Alberts, 2013). The potential to engage students in learning programmes that support scientific literacy development is already happening in many places, but needs continuing support and development. A challenge that is broader than education is the need to enable access for young people in and out of school, to information about current science. In a recent focus group meeting with 16-17 year olds from a low decile school who had experienced a LENScience programme as 14 and 15 year olds, and in many cases made active lifestyle-choice changes as a result of this, the students challenged me as to how I was going to continue to provide them with access to ongoing information about health-related research. They felt that the media was not doing a particularly good job compared to the information they had available through school. As science educators we must talk about this, amongst ourselves and our communities. We cannot expect greater resourcing for

How they do this is influenced by

Attitudes • Response to science issues • Interest • Support for scientific enquiry • Responsibility

science education or science communication if government does not fully appreciate the need. Neither can we expect the science community to engage in collaboration to achieve this if we cannot explain why the science education that most scientists experienced themselves is so inappropriate for today’s students. Hopefully as teachers we will bring a scientific perspective to our decisions and actions, and engage widely in debate that can support improved policies regarding communication, translation and education in relation to science. 

Jacquie Bay is director of LENScience, Liggins Institute. Recommended further reading: »» Alberts B. (2013) Prioritising Science Education Science, 340, 249 »» OECD (2013) PISA 2015 Draft Science Framework, Paris, OECD References: »» Alberts B. (2013) Prioritising Science Education Science, 340, 249 »» Bay JL, Mora HA, Sloboda DM, Morton SM, Vickers MH, Gluckman PD. (2012) Adolescent understanding of DOHaD concepts: a school-based intervention to support knowledge translation and behaviour change. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease 3(6): 469-482 »» Bay J, Meylan R, Leaman J, Gibbs S, Beedle A (2010). Engaging Young New Zealanders with Science: Priorities for Action in School Science Education. In: Looking Ahead: Science Education for the Twenty-First Century. A report from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser (PMCSA). Office of the PMCSA Committee, Auckland, New Zealand pp55-68 »» Bull A., Gilbert J., Barwick H., Hipkins R., Baker R. (2010) Inspired by Science. In: Looking Ahead: Science Education for the Twenty-First Century. A report from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser (PMCSA). Office of the PMCSA Committee, Auckland, New Zealand pp55-68 »» Bybee, RW (1997). Towards and understanding of scientific literacy. In: W. Grabe and C. Bolte (eds) Scientific Literacy – an international symposium, IPN, Kiel, Germany »» Bybee R, McCrae B, Laurie R. (2009) PISA 2006: An Assessment of Scientific Literacy. Journal of

Research in Science Teaching, 46, 8, 865 – 883 »» Laugksch RC (2000). Scientific literacy: A conceptual overview. Science Education, 84(1)71-94. »» Millar R & Osborne J. (1998). Beyond 2000: Science education for the future. King’s College, London. »» Millar R. (2008). Taking scientific literacy seriously as a curriculum aim. Asia-Pacific Forum on Science Learning and Teaching, 9(2) Foreword. »» Ministry of Education (2007) The New Zealand Curriculum for English-medium teaching and learning in years 1-13. Wellington: Learning Media »» Norris S, and Phillips L. (2003), How literacy in Its Fundamental Sense is central to Scientific literacy, Science Education 87 (2). »» National Science Challenges Panel (2013) Report of National Science Challenges Panel, Wellington, NZ »» OECD (2003) The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework: Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Problem Solving Knowledge and Skills, Paris, OECD »» OECD (2006) The PISA 2003 Assessment Framework: Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Problem Solving Knowledge and Skills, Paris, OECD »» OECD (2013) PISA 2015 Draft Science Framework, Paris, OECD »» OPMSAC (2011) Looking Ahead: Science Education or the Twenty-First Century: A Report from the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser, Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee (OPMSAC), Auckland, New Zealand New Zealand Science Teacher >> 53

TEACHER EDUCATION Primary & Secondary


The potential of for new science teachers

ANNE HUME explores the benefits of early career science teachers working with experts on Content Representation (CoRes) design


Introduction Two years ago, an article in New Zealand Science Teacher (Hume, 2010) reported that collaborative Content Representation (CoRes) design had real potential for student teachers’ professional learning in science teaching, particularly their emerging pedagogical content knowledge (PCK). Recently, using funding from the Teacher Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) Anne Hume, Chris Eames, John Williams and John Lockley from the University of Waikato decided to expand on this work. They set out to investigate what contribution content experts (like experienced teachers, scientists, and technologists) could make to the collaborative formulation of CoRes – this time with teachers who were in the early stages of their teaching careers and in need of opportunities to build and enhance their PCK. The researchers were interested to see if such a combination of professionals was feasible for CoRes design and what impact expert input might have on the PCK of the early career teachers as they implemented the CoRes into their programme planning and teaching.

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The fields of science and technology were chosen as the context for the study and two groups of early career teachers, expert subject teachers, and expert practitioners were formed. The groups used CoRes design as a focus for pulling together expertise that might help the early career teachers in their classroom teaching. This article reports on the findings from the science group. Before describing the study and its findings, some background is helpful in explaining why such a study on teachers’ PCK and CoRes design was considered important and valuable for researchers in teacher education to do. PCK is a term used to describe the specialised form of professional knowledge that expert teachers use to successfully teach particular concepts and skills to students for understanding. It is gained through a lengthy transformation process where other forms of knowledge like subject matter knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and contextual knowledge are morphed into a new kind of knowledge for teaching. PCK is a highly

personalised, often unspoken form of knowledge that distinguishes expert teachers from non-teaching content experts and develops through time and experience in the classroom. For particular topics and groups of students, each expert teacher’s PCK is unique and encompasses his/her: »» orientations towards teaching (knowledge of and about their subject and beliefs about it and how to teach it); »» knowledge of curriculum (what aspects of the topic to teach and when); »» knowledge of assessment (what aspects of the topic to teach, why, and how); »» knowledge of students’ understanding of the topic (their prior knowledge including misconceptions); »» knowledge of instructional strategies that work best for this topic. »» (Magnusson, Krajcik and Borko, 1999)

It is teacher educators’ role to introduce student teachers to the world of teaching and help them begin the process of acquiring the professional knowledge required to do the job well. Research (e.g. Kind 2009) indicates that many graduates entering teacher education courses are often naïve about, and/or do not appreciate, the demands that teaching will make of them. In addition Loughran et al. (2008) found many student science teachers entering teacher education courses actually lack a deep conceptual understanding of their subject matter, with disjointed and muddled ideas about particular science concepts. Obviously, these gaps in their perceptions of what teaching is about and in their content understanding can be significant hurdles for early career teachers to overcome when first attempting to build rich PCK for teaching. To promote the growth of PCK in early career teachers, Kind (2009) identifies the following factors: »» the possession of good subject matter knowledge (SMK); >>

Organic Chemistry (Year 12) Key Ideas The physical and chemical properties of a substance are determined by its structure

Organic chemistry allows us to meet society’s needs, resolve issues, and develop new technologies

Pedagogical questions/ prompts

Organic compounds are named and drawn using the IUPAC system

Functional groups control the reactivity of an organic compound

What you intend the students to learn about this idea

»» Functional groups (names and formulae and how to convert between) »» Names (of compounds with 1-8 carbons) – prefixes and suffixes »» Number, substituent and parent name »» Molecular and structural formula incl. condensed

»» Different patterns of reactivity of those functional groups specified in Year 12 achievement standard

»» Isomerism – structural and cis/trans »» Properties of naturally occurring molecules »» Homologous series – trends as C chain increases »» Markovnikov’s rule

»» Anaesthetics, fumigants, polymers e.g. PVC, petroleum, distillation esters, breathalysers, solvents, vinegar etc

Why is it important for students to know about this?

»» Is the basis of organic chemistry. A systematic approach that enables logical thought. »» Terminology is accepted internationally – enhances scientific literacy and communication.

»» A fundamental concept of organic chemistry »» A way of categorising the reactions of organic compounds – can predict the behaviour of a substance.

»» Leads to an ability to understand other forms of isomerism and to predict reactions with molecules of different chain length and functional groups

»» Organic chemistry can both help meet society’s needs and create issues to be resolved. Relevance and purpose – being able to make informed decisions over use of chemicals.

What else you know about this idea (that you do not intend students to know yet)?

»» Other functional groups e.g. amides »» Names of molecules with more than 8 carbon atoms

»» Reactions of other functional groups not included here e.g. secondary/tertiary alcohols, alkanes with epoxides etc.

»» Optical isomerism and E, Z isomerism

»» Condensation polymerisation »» Student dependent and time dependent »» Development of illegal substances

Difficulties/ limitations connected with teaching this idea

»» Some compounds have common names that can confuse students e.g. acetic acid. »» Another language to learn (hard for ESOL), and lots of terms that are similar.

»» Being able to correctly identify the functional group amid so many different reactions. »» Tendency to compartmentalise learning and not make links to other learning. »» Learning other reactions that are involved

»» 3D spatial awareness of isomers »» Lack of models

»» Teacher lack of knowledge of real world – not easy to find information »» Research of information takes time

Knowledge about students’ thinking which influences your teaching of this idea

»» Understanding the conventions of structural formula. »» Prior experience/ knowledge of some everyday organic compounds e.g. octane

»» Their knowledge of acidbase reactions »» Links to everyday contexts »» Their knowledge of redox reactions possibly

»» Limited experience of 2D and 3D thinking e.g. rotation of bonds

»» Interests of students – boys/girls. Answer to ‘Why do I need to know this’.

Other factors that influence your teaching of this idea

»» Availability of Molymod equipment for visualisation »» Need for kinesthetic activity

»» Having classroom wall space for reaction maps

»» Difficulty with spatial thinking – possibly more so in girls

»» Answer to ‘Why do I need to know this’. »» The enjoyable part of teaching and learning

Teaching procedures (and particular reasons for using these to engage with this idea)

»» Starting from parent alkane and scaffolding from there – building up with functional groups »» Verbalising names for reinforcement »» Model building, YouTube clips and animations

»» Illustrative experiments, video clips, reaction maps, class notes, animations, role plays

»» Animations to show rotation of bonds »» Molymods – manipulation »» Carry out reactions with actual substances

»» Popular music with chemistry messages. »» Student inquiry »» Video clips, news stories

Specific ways of ascertaining students’ understanding or confusion around this idea (include likely range of responses)

»» Naming given organic compounds »» Questions, assignments, peer assessments, BestChoice – mastery, card games, dominoes, mix n match

»» Naming given organic compounds »» Questions, assignments, peer assessments, BestChoice – mastery, card games, dominoes, mix n match »» Use of models, role plays

»» Naming given organic compounds »» Questions, assignments, peer assessments, BestChoice – mastery, card games, dominoes, mix n match. »» Use of models, role plays Identify structural formula for a given molecular formula

»» Identify fallacious chemical examples of advertising »» Develop questioning disposition »» Debates

Experimental investigations help chemists understand properties of organic compounds »» Molymods (3D models) »» Reflux and distillation »» Separation

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 55

TEACHER EDUCATION Primary & Secondary

<< continued from page 54 »» classroom experience especially in the early months and years of working as a teacher; »» certain emotional attributes like good levels of personal self-confidence; and »» provision of supportive working atmospheres in which collaboration is encouraged. As an intervention to address the above issues in pre-service science teacher education, CoRes have been used successfully to help novice teachers understand what PCK might involve and to develop their own representations of teaching in particular topic areas through designing their own CoRes (Loughran et al 2008; Hume & Berry, 2010). Note that CoRes were originally developed using a template to represent a holistic picture of the collective PCK of a group of expert teachers for a particular topic. More recently, in a small New Zealand study, student teachers collaborated with their associate teachers in CoRes design while on practicum, then planned and taught of a sequence of lessons based on the CoRes. This classroom testing of the tentative PCK portrayed in the CoRes was a valuable experience for the student teachers with evidence of significant PCK gains in the findings (Hume, 2011).

The Research Design To carry out the investigation, two four-member partnerships were formed, one in science and one in technology. This article focuses on the science partnership, which included an expert classroom chemistry teacher, a chemist, and two early career chemistry teachers. Two researchers worked alongside the team to facilitate and record the process. The study took place in three phases: »» Phase one involved the design of a CoRes for Year 12 organic chemistry that was identified by the early career teachers as a topic they were intending to teach and one in which they would like to enhance their own PCK. The CoRes was designed with the help of the expert scientist, who was asked to contribute mainly to the key ideas of the subject matter knowledge, and the expert teacher, who was asked particularly for his expertise on how to address pedagogical aspects related to the key ideas. This co-construction of the CoRes took place in a workshop situation facilitated by one of the researchers who was experienced in working with teachers, and who was familiar with research-informed challenges in teaching and learning in science. The workshop included instruction on the purpose and use of CoRes by the researcher, and then the group began the organic CoRes by identifying and agreeing on the key ideas 56

>> New Zealand Science Teacher

for the topic. They then considered the pedagogical questions/prompts for each key idea to populate the CoRes matrix. The completed organic chemistry CoRes is shown in the table on page 55. »» In Phase two, the early career chemistry teachers worked in partnership with a researcher as they used the organic chemistry CoRes as a basis for planning the scheduled Year 12 organic chemistry unit. The researcher respected the planning norms of the teacher and their school, and did not try to unduly influence the planning process as they discussed and reflected on the process. »» Phase three of the study saw each early career teacher deliver their organic chemistry unit and co-research the outcomes of its use with one class of students with their researcher partner. This research involved observation of classroom activity by the researcher while the teacher was delivering the unit followed by reflective conversations around the

The group settled on their key ideas relatively quickly, largely helped by the familiarity of the expert chemistry teacher with the curriculum. “We got the big ideas pretty quick actually, yeah, we worked through those. They seemed to fall into place, and I guess it’s because for chemistry there is a really, very well established curriculum and the ideas are reasonably straightforward in terms of what you need to be covering.” (Barry, expert chemistry teacher) The early career teachers valued the input of the experts and felt the design process had enabled them to access the experts’ knowledge about, and better identify for themselves, the key concepts of the topic, as well as learn new teaching techniques for delivering particular content (knowledge of curriculum and instructional strategies). “After development of the CoRes with the experts I revisited my unit plan and re-thought how I would teach Organic Chemistry in the future.” (Elaine, personal reflective notes)

A focus group interview of students was conducted by the researcher at the end of the unit to examine how the students’ learning experiences may have been influenced by the teacher’s implementation of a unit based on the CoRes. teacher’s delivery of the subject matter and associated pedagogy, as specified in the CoRes. Any changes the teacher planned to make in future lessons in response to their sharing of ideas were noted. A focus group interview of students was conducted by the researcher at the end of the unit to examine how the students’ learning experiences may have been influenced by the teacher’s implementation of a unit based on the CoRes.

Findings Overall the collaborative CoRes design process contributed to a positive working atmosphere that enabled the identification of key concepts for teaching, appropriate pedagogies and links with real life applications and stories of the key chemical ideas. The experts in chemistry and chemistry teaching worked well with the early career teachers and a positive working atmosphere was created (note in the following quotes from team members, pseudonyms have been used and emerging PCK components are indicated in italics – see the introductory section). For example, the chemist, Brian, spoke very favourably of the process: “To actually see how the two beginning teachers were picking up on ideas from [the expert teacher] and I was picking up ideas as well, that was quite useful [too]. That sort of interaction between the four of us actually worked very well. We’d contribute pretty equally; it was very good.”

Overall they believed that being involved in discussions with the experts in the construction of the CoRes helped them to build their PCK and develop a deeper understanding of the big picture of the topic. In terms of how the collaboratively-designed CoRes affected the early career teachers’ planning for teaching the organic topic, the teachers responded that this happened in a number of ways. Elaine explained how the CoRes encouraged her to change the teaching sequence within the topic (knowledge of curriculum) to focus on students learning some fundamental knowledge (knowledge of students’ understanding of the subject), which she felt paid off when she considered the students’ overall learning outcomes. And now that I’ve done that (placing organic nomenclature near the beginning of the unit), I absolutely saw the value of it because the kids … they just know exactly what I’m talking about … I’ll always do it this way … the naming just works … the alcohols yesterday, it took me half a period to teach alcohols, whereas usually it takes me two periods because [usually] we first have to do the naming and now that’s done. Discussions in the CoRes design workshop between the chemistry subject matter expert and the expert teacher, which highlighted the critical nature of nomenclature to understanding organic chemistry, had convinced Elaine to put more emphasis on this aspect in the early part of her unit

teaching. Developing the CoRes with experts had really helped her planning: “I feel that developing the CoRes for Organic Chemistry with the expert teachers was very helpful in organising my thoughts, planning, etc. and helped me think of strategies, etc. that I could use to add to my teaching. I will, therefore, in future endeavour to develop CoRes for my other [units] as well.” After her experience in CoRes design, Georgia, the other chemistry teacher, adopted a new planning strategy in which she planned more thoroughly. She used a whole unit template or overview indicating each lesson with the content she was going to teach in that lesson. This plan was used in a structured but flexible way to take into account class disruptions whilst still ensuring the curriculum was covered (knowledge of curriculum). Using the CoRes in her planning also encouraged her to focus more on relevant examples to illustrate how the topic was important in students’ daily lives (orientations towards teaching). Georgia found this teaching strategy stimulating and the students enjoyed learning about these examples, but she noted a need for readily accessible resources that provided more realworld applications of the chemistry topic. “I think something that would make the CoRes more useful is perhaps if it was linked to examples … those examples should be included, so it’s more sort of user friendly … I think that’s what new teachers need help with.” Both the early career teachers felt that being involved in the CoRes design and using the CoRes to guide their teaching had increased their confidence and belief in what they were teaching (orientations towards teaching). “I think in my mind it probably helped me to see … especially the ‘how does it meet society’s needs’ and sort of see the relevance of teaching them the unit. And I think you gain confidence from teaching something that is actually useful.” (Georgia, final interview) Interestingly the CoRes lay behind much of what they thought about in the classroom but was not always explicit in their practice. They seemed to get the most benefit from seeing the need for examples of organic chemistry in authentic contexts to support and illustrate the concepts they were focussing on developing with their students (orientations to teaching) and developing the confidence to do this. “… that was probably the biggest thing that came out of having the expert teachers and the scientists there as well. It was sort of having their view of what is important for organic chemistry … that organic chemistry allows us to meet society’s needs … and it’s got all those things like anaesthetics, polymers, PVC … it’s those little bits of extra information that make it interesting.” (Georgia, final interview).

The chemistry teachers noted that after an examination and discussion of the pedagogical questions and prompts in the CoRes around each of the key ideas, they also had a deeper understanding of the importance of engaging in practical activities in order to assist students understanding of the relevance of the topic (orientations to teaching and knowledge of instructional strategies).

Implications CoRes developed through a collaborative process with experts in subject matter and teaching have potential for helping early career teachers gain access to expert knowledge and experience. This study revealed a willingness for experts to be involved in the CoRes design process, and through this involvement, they better understood some of the challenges that beginning teachers face in teaching their subject. All parties reported enjoying the opportunity to discuss the key ideas relating to the topic of the CoRes and the ways to teach them. The early career teachers emphasised that the experts’ engagement in the process of design of the CoRes was particularly beneficial in helping them to focus on the big picture of the topic, place different emphases on areas of content, and consider alternative ways of planning for their teaching. However, it was also clear that to create space for such a design process outside of a dedicated and funded research project

would require time commitment and innovative ways to collaborate between early career teachers and experts. These findings lead to a consideration of how all early career teachers could benefit from being involved in CoRes design with experts across a variety of learning areas and topics. While the participants in this study clearly appreciated the opportunity to work face-to-face with experts, it would seem unlikely that such an opportunity could be provided for all early career teachers in all learning areas. A potential solution to this dilemma might be the use of electronic media. Applications such as Wikis or e-portfolios are already being used as collaborative work spaces in many areas of education. Bringing together a group of early career teachers and experts in a virtual space may allow for collaborative but asynchronous (and therefore timeflexible) development of CoRes. Such a facility would have the potential to involve a greater number of early career teachers in a cluster; it would also allow for ongoing evolution of a CoRes as early career teachers develop their PCK. This latter idea is important, as development of PCK should not be seen as reaching an end point. Indeed, in the future, it would be interesting to return to the teachers in our study to examine how their PCK had further developed, and what their revised CoRes of the same topic might then look like. 

References »» Hume, A. (2011). Using collaborative CoRes design in chemistry education to promote effective partnerships between associate and student teachers. ChemEd NZ, 125, 13-19 »» Hume, A. (2010). CoRes and PaP-eRs. New Zealand Science Teacher, 124, 38-40. »» Kind, V. (2009). Pedagogical content knowledge in science education: Potential and perspectives for progress. Studies in Science Education, 45(2), 169–204. »» Magnusson, S, Krajcik, J, & Borko, H. (1999). Nature, sources, and development of pedagogical content knowledge for science teaching. In J. Gess-Newsome & NG, Lederman (Eds.), »» Examining pedagogical content knowledge: The construct and its implications for science education (pp. 95–132). Boston, MA: Kluwer. New Zealand Science Teacher >> 57

SAFETY Teacher profile

Main pic: Year 9 students at Nelson College dissect mussels as part of their ‘adaptation’ unit. Left: Tristan’s students making slime. Below: A year 9 class fire their baking soda film canister rockets.

Online platforms

Tristan Riley

add spark to science teaching New Zealand Science Teacher talks to Tristan Riley about his use of technology in his work.


ristan Riley teaches general science and chemistry at Nelson College. He has a teaching website with links to coursework and assessment resources for each of his classes. In addition, he has his own personal website packed with photos and stories of his life adventures. There’s plenty to inspire young inquirers, from photos of a food market in Syria, to images of marine life in the Kermadec Islands. Tristan’s online activities extend to creating a video resource for his students. His YouTube channel (username: Tristan Riley) has a collection of interesting experiments that have taken place in his science classes. One video shows students distilling alcohol to extract ethanol. Another is mysteriously entitled “foaming snake experiment” and involves adding a MnO2 catalyst to hydrogen peroxide, with fascinating results.

What science classes are you teaching this year? Over the past seven years at Nelson College, I have taught science from Years 9 to 11 and chemistry from Years 11 to 13. 58

>> New Zealand Science Teacher

I have enjoyed working with a range of classes and abilities, from learning support through to scholarship. Currently, I teach Year 9, 10, and 11 science and Year 12 and 13 chemistry. I’m also the Chemistry HOD.

‘Practicals’ involve a lot of work, and there are time and safety issues to think about. Student and staff safety is an absolute priority. The Ministry of Education needs to update the “Safety in Science” manual, which is now 13 years obsolete.

Your science lessons involve a lot of hands-on stuff. What is the most important thing your students get from doing ‘practical science’?

You have classwork available for your students to access online. How do you use online platforms in science teaching?

From the students’ point of view, the fun and excitement of science experiments are important. It’s also really good for them to get out of their seat for a break now and then! From my point of view, there are a range of issues involving practical work. Obviously, there must be quality learning going on at the same time as the students are having fun. Learning through inquiry is possible at times, but I prefer to use tried and tested practical work as a way to illustrate a key science concept, or to develop science literacy skills. For example, after brewing ginger beer, students have to write an explanation.

Our class blog is at I would love to make the class “live” and record every exciting moment, within privacy policy guidelines! The blog and my YouTube channel act as an archive of exciting moments that have taken place in my science classes. My teaching website (wiki) serves as a day to day teaching tool. I use it to plan my units. These sites are a few years old and small scale. For an example of a really successful teaching website, visit the Nayland College maths website, which receives thousands of hits each day from around the world. It has been developed by my brother, Max Riley.

We really need BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to improve student engagement with science. I want the students to have their own blog in which they record exciting moments of school and science. They need a CV, job application letter, and career information (for a job in science, of course!) They also need an online portfolio of work that builds over their time at school. They need to learn how to use their devices in the most efficient way, to get the most out of them. I believe that, at present, we are just scratching the surface of what is possible.

What is your favourite thing about teaching science? The thing I enjoy most about teaching science is working with our wonderful, enthusiastic, and positive young people. It is a real pleasure to say hello each day to these awesome people, who have so much potential to fulfil.  See Tristan’s website at


Gloria Penrice and STEVEN SEXTON explore how small rural schools can spark a passion for science comparable to that for sports. Introduction This research was conducted when the lead author was the teaching principal of Waitahuna School. Waitahuna School is located in a picturesque Otago valley, with a population of approximately 150. This community is a well-established sheep and beef farming area with all the students’ parents involved in the agricultural sector, either as farmers or engaged in farming-related industries such as contracting, logging, or transport. This is a small rural school with two teachers for its 24 Year 1–6 students. The school is the focal point of the community,

Engaging primary students through

science action research with very supportive parents. There is a very strong sporting culture here, and in fact, there is a mass exodus of students on Thursdays after school for various sports practices. Gloria has been there since May 2011 as the teaching principal. The challenge for her was to light the students’ scientific fire to match their passion for sports.

Research topic Although New Zealand may have a high rate of top achievers in science compared to other countries, there is also a long tail of underachievers who show little interest and ability in science. Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS ) 2006/07 results show New Zealand Year 5 students had an appreciably lower science achievement rate compared to England, United States, and Australia (Bull et al, 2010).

Both TIMSS 2006/07 and New Zealand’s National Education Monitoring Project (Crooks & Flockton, 2004) report primary students have good observational skills but have difficulty explaining scientific ideas and understandings because of their lack of scientific skills and vocabulary. Opportunities for students to engage in hands-on science activities seem to be limite, with over two-thirds of Year 4 and Year 8 students reporting they very rarely did experiments with either science equipment or everyday things (Crooks, Smith & Flockton, 2007). Furthermore, the focus on integrated inquiry topics in many primary schools has resulted in science often covered only once or twice a year, thereby preventing the cyclical nature of science education required to consolidate students’ conceptual knowledge and scientific skills (Gluckman, 2011). As a consequence,

science is de-emphasised to such extent that many teachers feel inadequate in this curriculum area. It could be presumed that most rural schools would have more opportunities to explore real life science experiences due to the strong agricultural focus and range of science-orientated businesses often found in rural communities. However, there is a dearth of research that examines the engagement, attitude, and achievement in science in rural New Zealand primary schools – in particular, rural Otago. This research, which is part of a larger study, attempts to address this gap, specifically: How does an action research programme in science impact on rural primary school student’s attitudes, engagement, scientific skills, and use of scientific language? The purpose of this action research New Zealand Science Teacher >> 59


was to make science relevant, useful, >> << and meaningful for these rural students and to create strong connections between them, the science, and their world.

“I can’t believe we are actually going to study poo at school!”

Actions taken This action research was conducted in three cycles. The introduction cycle was designed to put the ‘wow’ into science. There were two explicit intentions. First was for all the students to participate in various activities to gain a better understanding of solids, liquids, and gases. Second was for them to see science as hands-on activities and not just pencil-onpaper tasks. We investigated the three states of matter using various materials including ‘dry ice’ or frozen carbon dioxide, and liquid nitrogen. Activities included making ‘smoky’ drinks using water and dry ice. The students enjoyed their chance to have hands-on science. They were given the time for several opportunities to see for themselves what happened when dry ice was placed in water, a solution of dishwashing water, and inside a balloon. The students then took their expanding balloons outside where their hands-on science turned into dancing in liquid nitrogen fog. As these activities occurred with the assistance of the University of Otago’s Department of Chemistry Outreach team, I was able to take observational notes and discuss with individual students what they were doing and how they were starting to make sense of what was happening. This initial data collection provided me with supporting evidence to continue with this science action research programme with the senior class. I expected the students to 60

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be positively engaged in the hands-on activities but was pleasantly surprised with how willing they discussed what they were doing and thinking. The second cycle involving the Year 4–6 students was planned around water and soil testing, in particular, pH testing. This was deemed appropriate as all the students were aware of soil testing on their parents’ farms before fertiliser application. In addition, the Year 6 students often help the pool caretaker test the water in the swimming pool. Despite these experiences with water and soil testing, most students, however, had limited understanding of what the testing involved and why. The second cycle, like the introduction cycle, was designed to be hands-on, but this time, the students were going to be more involved in the preparations and planning to go along with the ‘doing’ of the activities. In this cycle, students began by making their own pH indicator by extracting the anthocynanin from red cabbage. Using this natural pH indicator, they explored the pH of various common household items such as vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda mixed in water, milk, fizzy drinks and diluted drain cleaner. Next, they made their own colours of the rainbow using a weak acid (HCl) and base (NaOH) with indicator in water. Then they used the indicator to test common foods, such as eggs and samples from their

lunch boxes. Finally, the students brought water and soil samples from their farms and these were tested for pH. There was an explicit intent to start shifting the focus of activity control from the teacher to the students. The students were actively involved in the preparation, planning, and doing of the activities. The activities chosen were to make connections between the science and their everyday world, including both their home and farm life. This started with the students cutting up red cabbage to steep in hot water before draining to make the red cabbage indicator. The students tested various household samples and then samples from their lunches. “We put the red cabbage indicator with the white and it went green … because it was neutral. It tasted sort of like a normal egg but tastier. Just a wee bit sweet.” Once again, observation and small group discussions were used as the primary means of data collection. The intention was to build the students’ confidence in not only what to do, but also the how and why they were doing it as a means to prepare them for the third cycle. In the third and final cycle, the Year 4–6 class was divided into three groups to plan, design, conduct, and evaluate their own scientific investigations involving pH in the community. The Chemistry Outreach team then worked with the students on different sampling, analysis and recording methods to help them with the investigation process. The first group were interested in finding out if the type of bug changes the pH of the water, and if the pH of the water changes with the depth of the water. Samples were collected

from the bottom, middle, and top of a water trough and a duck pond. Results showed no great difference in the pH from the different depths of the water. The students were unable to answer the bug question, as they had difficulty identifying the bugs collected due to the lack of clarity through the microscope. The second group wanted to investigate if there was a difference between surface and bottom pond water, and if the pond was deeper would it change how the plants grow. Samples were taken from the top and the bottom of the pond in three different places. The results showed no significant difference in pH between the top and bottom samples, and on average, the top water was slightly warmer than the bottom water. As the surface water had more plants growing in it, and the deeper water was smellier and had less plants growing, this group concluded that if the pond was deeper, it would indeed change how plants would grow. The third group were curious to discover if a cowpat would affect the pH and nitrate of the soil under, beside and 25cm away from it. Soil samples were collected from a ‘sloppy’ new cowpat; an ‘old dry’ cowpat; a cowpat ‘in between’ sloppy and dry; and finally a control sample with no cowpats nearby. The team held group discussions as to whether the cowpat was ‘sloppy,’ ‘dry’ or ‘in between.’ Analysis of the results showed the no-cowpat samples were the most acidic and had the most nitrates. The group concluded that cowpats do change the pH and nitrate of the soil around them but not until the cowpats had broken down so the nutrients could get into the soil. The students had several opportunities

to share their work with different audiences, and as a result got feedback on their work. First, they outlined their investigations at the Conservation Award ceremony in Dunedin where all the students were finalists in the 2012 Department of Conservation Schools Toroa Award. Second, each group presented a PowerPoint summarising the complete research process they went through, including the analysis of the results, to the Waitahuna Community at the end of year school breakup.

Discussions and evaluations Student reflections indicated they really enjoyed this science unit because they got to choose what they wanted to investigate; “I can’t believe we are actually going to study poo at school!” They felt important; “cause it’s what real scientists do.” The hands-on approach to experiments was valued; “When you’re watching it, it gets a wee bit boring and when you’re actually doing it, you’re really excited and stuff… We are noticing everything that is happening while we’re doing the experiment.” All the students were confident at expressing what skills they are now good at doing in science; “I was real careful that I rinsed the jar out, like three times so it didn’t contaminate the sample.” The programme was summed up succinctly by one student; “this year taught us a lot about science.” This year-long action research has given me, as a teacher, the opportunity to guide and facilitate the development of the students’ scientific knowledge and skills, and to consolidate this learning within a meaningful, authentic, student-driven context. Although this process was more

time consuming, the extra work entailed was amply rewarded with seeing the increase in the students’ enthusiasm, engagement and confidence, and the growth of their scientific understandings. Working in partnership with the Chemistry Outreach team gave me the opportunity to access their expertise, and to develop my own confidence in allowing the students more personal agency in their science programme. The next steps in this journey will be driven by the students and their interests and supported by the Chemistry Outreach team and myself.  References »» Bull, A, Gilbert, J, Barwick, Hipkins. R, & Baker, R. (2010). Inspired by Science. A paper commissioned by the Royal Society and the Prime Minister’s Chief Science Adviser. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. »» Crooks, T, & Flockton, L. (2004). New Zealand National Education Monitoring Project: Science assessment results 2003. Dunedin, New Zealand: The Educational Assessment Research Unit, University of Otago. »» Crooks, T, Smith, J, & Flockton, L. (2007). New Zealand National Education Monitoring Project: Science assessment results 2007. Dunedin, New Zealand: The Educational Assessment Research Unit, University of Otago. »» Gluckman, P. (2011) Looking ahead: science education for the twenty-first century. Office of the Prime Minister’s Science Advisory Committee, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from (12 July, 2011).

New Zealand Science Teacher >> 61


National Executive Committee


Report on the th

45 International Chemistry Olympiad competition

Junior Vice-President


Team photo, from left to right: Frank Zhou, Scott Huang, Keniel Yao, Cindy Ou. 62

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he 45th International Chemistry Olympiad competition was held in Moscow from 15–24 July 2013 at the Moscow State University. It was opened by the Russian Deputy Prime Minister of Social Affairs, Olga Golodets. With up to four students from each country, there were 291 students representing 74 countries, and there were another three countries observing. The New Zealand team was represented by Feng (Frank) Zhou (Macleans College), Scott Huang (Rangitoto College), Ka Yin Keniel Yao (Macleans College), and Xin Yi (Cindy) Ou (Mt Roskill Grammar). The mentors were Dr Owen Curnow (University of Canterbury) and Dr Andrew (Buck) Rogers (St Peter’s College). The New Zealand team made a three-day stopover in Hong Kong on the way to Moscow to break up the long travel and to prepare for the competition. For the competition, the students were challenged by a very difficult five-hour theory exam; the average mark for all students was under 50 per cent. The material covered was similar to the preparatory problems and included such topics as the absorption of gases on graphene, the decomposition of methane hydrates, and the biochemistry of archaea. The five-hour practical exam was slightly easier, although only one of the New Zealand students managed to finish it. In addition to some titrations, there was a challenging series of viscosity measurements to determine the molecular mass of polymer samples. In the end, the New Zealand team achieved one silver medal (Frank) and three bronze medals, with Scott’s being the highest ranked bronze medal of the competition. This was an outstanding result; although countries aren’t ranked in any way, our performance was similar to that of the Australians and British and ahead of the Canadians and Irish. Most of the gold medals were taken by Asian countries as well as the former Soviet states. The students especially valued the opportunity to meet with students from so many other countries.


Senior Vice-President

Regional Committees (Branches)


The New Zealand Association of Science Educators (Incorporated) coordinates and supports many organisations. Membership is open to institutions and individuals that support the objectives of the Association. The objectives of the Association are: »» To promote the development of science education throughout New Zealand. »» To facilitate liaison and cooperation between regional science teachers’ Associations. »» To assist regional science teachers’ Associations in their





Standing Committees


Individual and Institutional Members efforts to sustain and expand their activities. To disseminate information, articles and other material related to science education through newsletters, journals and other means. To represent the interests and concerns of people involved in science education to the appropriate authorities. To organise conferences of its members to further their knowledge of science education and to enhance their skills and interest. To develop links with international science education Associations.

Standing committees 2013 REPORTs

Earth and Space Science Educators

Nga- Kaiwhakaako Pu- taiao a--Papa, a--Rangi report for 2013

National Association of Primary Science Educators (NZAPSE) 2013 report


he goal of NZAPSE is to support and encourage primary school teachers through professional development, advice, networks, and fun science ideas. We aim to accomplish this in partnership with teachers, schools, and members of the wider community to celebrate science and have fun. We are an enthusiastic group of individuals, working together using science to inspire teachers and learners. We will facilitate our goal through consultation amongst those in the educational community and wider partnerships, with flexibility, innovation and an eye to the future. We have a great committee of passionate individuals who are keen to promote the importance and excitement of primary science in New Zealand. They are: Tauranga, John Marsh; Dunedin, Steven Sexton; Wellington, Carol Brieseman; Hamilton, Greta Droomgol; Auckland, Sandy Jackson; Nelson, Sterling Cathman. Our main initiative has been National Primary Science Week, which brings science alive and increases the profile of science in schools and homes around the country. Last year, we partnered with Schoolgen as the major supporter of Primary Science Week, with an emphasis on solar power and sustainable energy practices. In 2014 our main topic is “Out of this World”, focusing on Astronomy. If you would like to join in please contact National Coordinator, Sterling Cathman:

ESSE is the NZASE standing committee that supports the new Earth and Space Science/Te Pu-taiao a--Papa, a--Rangi subject and achievement standards. Earth and Space Science (ESS) reflects the objectives of the Planet Earth and Beyond strand of the Science Learning Area of The New Zealand Curriculum. The subject and standards cover geology, astronomy, the ocean, and the atmosphere. The subject allows the ability to learn about how planet Earth functions as a whole and to provide background information to help students understand the global problems that Earth is facing. The standards are being used to assess not only Earth and Space Science courses but also marine science, environmental science, and general science courses. There has been a good uptake of these standards around the country and teachers and pupils are finding the subject very interesting. 2013 is the first year that Level 3 topics have been taught. The last two years have been very busy while teachers develop resources for the new topics. Teachers have been generous in sharing these resources via workshops, cluster groups, and online facilities such as Dropbox. SciCon is in Dunedin next year and part of the programme is an Earth and Space Science day for teachers of this subject. We plan to make full use of the resources available in the Otago area and are considering visiting the Mt John Observatory in Tekapo and the limestone trail in Oamaru after SciCon. There is a lot of scope within this subject for all sorts of interesting field trips. Teachers all over the country are finding new and interesting ways of getting out and about with their students. If any teachers new to this subject wish to access the resources available online please contact me at

Jenny Pollock, ESSE.

Science Technicians’ Association of New Zealand (Inc) (STANZ) report for 2013 The National Executive have been working on getting a review of the Safety in Science Manual, last published by the Ministry of Education in 2000, and the Code of Practice, gazetted in 2007. Both documents need to be put into a user friendly format. The problem of schools not having safety data sheets has been an area of major concern to the executive. It is now over 10 years since it became a legal requirement to have safety data sheets and every school should have them in place. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be the case, and some technicians are still trying to get these in every school. It takes quite

a while to arrange this and it is important to give the technicians time to get the safety data sheets properly in place. The biennial conference for technicians was held in Rotorua in October 2013. ConSTANZ is a fantastic opportunity for technicians to get together for professional development. Schools should be encouraging their science technicians to attend. Thanks to the generosity of NZASE, 10 scholarships were made available to attend ConSTANZ this year, with four of them being awarded.

Robyn Eden, STANZ New Zealand Science Teacher >> 63


Cancer patient turns his attention to others in need


iam Fisher thought he had a skateboarding injury but it turned out to be a cancerous tumour. A young cancer patient who has just finished his treatment is already thinking of others. Selwyn College student Liam Fisher helped organise the New Zealand Blood Service to visit his school in Kohimarama, Auckland so students and staff could donate blood. “I am done with needing blood but there are lots of kids who are worse off than me who are going through treatment and need it,” said the Kohimarama 14-year-old. “Donating blood is a cool way students can help others and support me because some of the kids felt too awkward to come and see me when I was really sick.” Liam was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in his leg 12 months ago. What he first thought was a skateboarding injury turned out to be osteosarcoma - a type of cancer that starts in the bone. He has undergone a human bone transplant in his tibia (shin bone) and has a titanium artificial knee.

Twelve rounds of intensive chemotherapy not only left him feeling terrible but prevented his body from making its own blood cells. “They tried to blast it out of me,” he said. “It made me feel so horrible and sick I didn’t want to talk to anyone. All I wanted to do was pull the curtains and curl up in a ball.” Liam needed several blood transfusions and in total received eight units of red blood cells and four units of platelets. The four units of platelets alone took 21 donors. Sixty-six staff and students went to the school gym to give blood and 40 of those were first time donors. Blood transfusions are an important part of most cancer patients’ treatment. “Over 26% of all red blood cells from donated blood are used for treatment of cancer patients. Many people

If you would like to know more information you can call us on 0800 448 325 or visit 64

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think most donated blood is used for accident victims but this is not the case.” Approximately 42,000 people every year need blood or blood products and its important that encourage today’s youth to become tomorrow’s active donors. The New Zealand Blood Service has FREE Secondary School Resources aligned with the curriculum and offer achievement standards to teach students about blood and importance of blood donors. The New Zealand Blood Service has a defined Strategy to encourage today’s youth to become tomorrow’s active donors. Through promoting the habit of regular blood donation at an early age we are collectively ensuring the sustainability of the donor population and the blood supply for people in need throughout the years to come.



Interactive whiteboard enabled!




Interactive digital texts to complement the learning experiences in the teaching units.

AMAZING BLOOD Emphasises the importance of blood donation to social sustanability. Focuses on the circulatory system, the blood donation process in relation to this, and the different perspectives people have about blood donation.

The units are supported with engaging digital resources designed to be used either with an interactive whiteboard or data projector. The interactive digital text features include embedded vocabulary and information pop-ups and videos to foster engagement and support understanding. The digital resources come with downloadable teaching notes with suggested learning experiences for different curriculum levels.


WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE? Provides experiences for students to learn about blood and the New Zealand Blood Service in the context of analysing information for biological validity.


NCEA Achievement Standards 91154

A large range of resources to support using blood donation as a context for learning.


Web-based links include the following: video clips, teaching resources, slide shows, images, lesson plans, graphic organisers, posters, charts, diagrams, information sheets, articles and brochures. This section of the website is supported by a powerful search feature based on learning area, year level and medium.



TAKE ACTION! Focuses on blood donation as an essential part of social sustainabilty. Explores values and perspectives associated with blood donation and the New Zealand Bone Marrow Donor Registry, as well as planning and evaluation skills required to take action. NCEA Achievement Standards 91282 & 91283



literacy activities that make the technical

information accessible for a variety of learners. Anna Simonsen Social Sciences Teacher Wellington Girls’ College

The Level 5 unit is easy to follow, varied and interesting Very thorough indeed! Paul Keown Educational Consultant Waikato University

D o wn lo a d the FREE re sou r c es h er e For more infor mation please email:



The teaching units are brilliant. I love the range of activities! Zena Kavas Science Teacher Taita College

New Zealand

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Teacher will ensure your finger will be on the pulse of science education in New Zealand. Other NZASE membership benefits »» SCICON – the biennial conference of the New Zealand Association of Science Educators. It is organised and hosted by regional science teachers’ associations with NZASE support and provides a unique professional development experience for teachers of science at all levels in New Zealand. Discounts are available to individual NZASE members.

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