The nature of science is concerned with science as a way of thinking, but this can’t exist in isolation, so the New Zealand curriculum document includes three other substrands of the nature of science to embed it within.
The ‘Investigating in science’ strand of the curriculum is one of these three other substrands.
Investigating in science achievement aim
Levels 3–4 achievement objectives
Levels 5–6 achievement objectives
Most science curriculum documents would call this strand ‘scientific inquiry’ rather than nature of science. The two main ways this substrand can embed and deepen nature of science understanding are by:
- giving students first-hand experience
- drawing attention to nature of science aspects in students’ own investigations and in the investigation of scientists.
Science and mātauranga pūtaiao use investigations to collect data and help make sense of the world around us. It is one thing to tell ākonga that scientists carry out science in a whole lot of different ways. It is even better to support this statement by giving students first-hand experience of a myriad of different ways of investigating.
Engaging students in a wide variety of investigative processes will help debunk the myth of there being one ‘scientific method’ that scientists and kairangahau Māori follow.
The scientific method, as far as it is a method, is nothing more than doing one’s damndest with one’s mind, no holds barred. In short, science is what scientists do, and there are as many scientific methods as there are individual scientists.Percy Bridgman
All learners – from the early years to high school and beyond – are able to gather data. The article Investigating in science unpacks what this might look like in the classroom. It is also really valuable for students to see scientists and kairangahau Māori themselves carrying out a wide range of investigative approaches.
The following interactive covers a range of scientific approaches along with helpful videos and links to practical resources.
Bringing scientists into the classroom
It is also invaluable for students to see scientists themselves carrying out a wide range of investigative approaches. The Science Learning Hub provides this opportunity by showing scientists engaged in many different types of investigative research. Videos of scientists also enable students to see themselves in science.
The Hub has a huge range of resources. Below is a selection of resources that feature different types of investigative research.
- Observing (with the naked eye or with the aid of technology)
- Gathering and interpreting data
- Pattern seeking
- Investigating models
- Developing systems
Observing (with the naked eye or with the aid of technology)
- Observing water’s thin skin – activity
- Te āta tirotiro i ngā hekaheka (Observing fungi – English version) – activity
- Which microscope? – interactive
- Interpreting observations from satellite images – activity
- Testing for conductivity – activity
- Space observatory – interactive
- Curiosity’s role in science – video
- Mussel ropes - Awhi Mai Awhi Atu – video
- Discovering the function of enzymes – video
- Floating and sinking – exploring forces – activity
- Investigating sound – activity
- Moth collecting – activity
- How to name organisms – video
- Exploring harakeke on the SEM – video
- He pūnaha whakarōpū ❘ Classifying and identifying plants – article
- Insect mihi – activity
- Classifying marine organisms – activity
- Native plant leaves – DIY classification system – activity
For more, explore the range of resources under the classification concept.
Gathering and interpreting data
- Ruru monitoring – article and videos
- Finger marathon – activity
- Calibrating and validating satellite data – activity
- Making and using a quadrat – activity
- Build a satellite for a mission – activity
- Identifying moths – video
- Tracking E7 – activity
- Using weather data and Regional weather data – activity and interactive
- World of quakes – activity
- Why does the Moon (seem to) change shape? – video
- Evidence and models – video
- Tracking plastics in our oceans – activity
- Calderas in the sandpit – activity
- Chemistry made simple – atoms – PLD
For more, explore the range of resources under the models in science concept.
- Early Māori measurement – article
- Tātai arorangi – Māori astronomy – video
- Changing the mass standard – article
- Build a marine food web – activity
Making it explicit
Whether the students are engaged in investigations first-hand or are watching videos of scientists and their research, we need to keep drawing students’ attention to learning about science as well as the doing science in these investigations. They should see that, far from there being only one nice tidy linear scientific method that all scientists follow, in fact, investigating in science is often messy and circuitous. They should see tenets of the nature of science in their own wide range of investigations and in the even wider range of scientists’ investigations to which they are exposed.
Science is said to proceed on two legs, one of theory and the other of observation and experiment. Its progress, however, is less often a commanding stride than a kind of halting stagger – more like the path of the wandering minstrel than the straight-ruled trajectory of a military marching band. The development of science is influenced by intellectual fashions, is frequently dependent upon the growth of technology and, in any case, seldom can be planned far in advance, since its destination is usually unknown.Timothy Ferris
The science capabilities contribute to a functional knowledge of science and scientific investigations. Learn more about the capabilities with the following PLD webinars:
Develop students' capabilities with these activities: