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Achievement aims

The achievement aims of science are high-level, long-term aims for students. They are translated into appropriate achievement objectives for each level of the curriculum.


The New Zealand Curriculum specifies five strands for the sciences.

The Nature of Science strand is the overarching, unifying strand; all science programmes will incorporate achievement objectives from this strand alongside appropriate objectives from the four contextual strands: living world (biology), earth and space science (planet earth and beyond), physical world (physics), and material world (chemistry).

While content knowledge is important, the focus of the curriculum is on science as a process. For this reason, it is desirable that programmes integrate achievement objectives from across the contextual strands and that learning in science connects with learning in other areas.

Achievement aims

Students will:

Nature of science

Understanding about science

  • Learn about science as a knowledge system: the features of scientific knowledge and the processes by which it is developed; and learn about the ways in which the work of scientists interacts with society.

Investigating in science

  • Carry out science investigations using a variety of approaches: classifying and identifying, pattern seeking, exploring, investigating models, fair testing, making things, or developing systems.

Communicating in science

  • Develop knowledge of the vocabulary, numeric and symbol systems, and conventions of science and use this knowledge to communicate about their own and others’ ideas.

Participating and contributing

  • Bring a scientific perspective to decisions and actions as appropriate.

Living world (biology)

Life processes

  • Understand the processes of life and appreciate the diversity of living things.


  • Understand how living things interact with each other and with the nonliving environment.


  • Understand the processes that drive change in groups of living things over long periods of time and be able to discuss the implications of these changes.

Planet Earth and beyond (Earth and space science)

Earth systems

  • Investigate and understand the spheres of the Earth system: geosphere (land), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air), and biosphere (life).

Interacting systems

  • Investigate and understand that the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are connected via a complex web of processes.

Astronomical systems

  • Investigate and understand relationships between the Earth, Moon, Sun, solar system, and other systems in the universe.

Physical world (physics)

Physical inquiry and physics concepts

  • Explore and investigate physical phenomena in everyday situations.

Physical concepts

  • Gain an understanding of the interactions that take place between different parts of the physical world and the ways in which these interactions can be represented.

Using physics

  • Apply their understanding of physics to various applications.

Material world (chemistry)

Properties and changes of matter

  • Investigate the properties of materials.

The structure of matter

  • Interpret their observations in terms of the particles (atoms, molecules, ions, and sub-atomic particles), structures, and interactions present.
  • Understand and use fundamental concepts of chemistry.

Chemistry and society

  • Make connections between the concepts of chemistry and their applications and show an understanding of the role chemistry plays in the world around them.

Last updated July 19, 2012