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What is the nature of science strand about?

This strand describes the understandings, skills, and dispositions that all students should be acquiring in science, regardless of which specialist contexts (contextual strands) they select for further study. Above all, the Nature of Science strand emphasises active exploration of what science is, and how scientists use a range of approaches and perspectives when viewing problems or issues.

Teachers will find a strong correlation between this strand and the key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum:

  • thinking
  • relating to others
  • understanding languages, symbols, and texts
  • managing self
  • participating and contributing.

The intent of the Nature of Science strand is summarised in four achievement aims, which are further defined as achievement objectives at each of the different curriculum levels.

The following are the achievement aims:

Understanding about science

Students will:

  • 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.

Key ideas

  • At the heart of science is the testing of ideas with evidence from the natural and physical world.
  • Science ideas are subject to change as new evidence is collected.
  • Scientific knowledge is derived in social and cultural contexts.

Investigating in science

Students will:

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

Key ideas

  • Investigations in science accumulate evidence to test ideas.
  • There is no one 'scientific method' – science investigations can involve some or all of: observation, asking questions, suggesting hypotheses, interpreting data, and formulating theories; these can occur in any order.
  • Investigations may involve repeating, changing or refining some steps many times to account for new information or new ideas.
  • Scientists use theories and models to explain their findings.

Communicating in science

Students will:

  • 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.

This will involve, for example:

  • using the language and conventions of science
  • learning to distinguish science from pseudo science
  • identifying the assumptions that underlie claims made by journalists, scientists, and themselves, and to check these against the evidence.

Participating and contributing

Students will:

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

This will involve, for example:

  • debating evidence and justifying points of view using a scientific perspective
  • using scientific understandings to make decisions and take actions in social and cultural contexts.

Last updated July 18, 2012