• iceberg
  • boy with flowers
  • checking water quality
  • planet eclipse
  • solarsystem model
  • rangitoto trees
  • kids with test tubes
  • kids with earth
  • snowy mountains
  • teens in physics class
  • Rainbow Clouds

    Refraction and diffraction of light through ice crystals in the clouds

  • Philippa On The Ice

    Philippa On The Ice Philippa Werry at an Antarctic research camp 2016

New Zealand Science Teacher

Science Curriculum/Scientific Literacy

Nature and science in the primary classroom

The Enviroschools programme provides a wonderful context for integrating the nature of science in the primary classroom, writes CAROL BRIESEMAN.

enviroschools 1Above: Children shifting mulch.

Enviroschools is a programme that many New Zealand schools and early childhood centres are involved in, with the aim of empowering children and students to create healthy, peaceful, sustainable communities. What a wonderful opportunity to engage students in scientific investigations that have real-world applications! For example, we teach students to pick up rubbish and to recycle but do they know the scientific reasons behind being a ‘tidy Kiwi’?

enviroschools2Left: Students harvesting potatoes.

Hampton Hill School has recently achieved the ‘silver’ stage in its Enviroschool journey. The school uses its gardens a bit like a science lab, teaching environmental science while simultaneously integrating the Enviroschool principles of empowering students, learning about sustainability, recognising and honouring Māori perspectives, and showing respect for the diversity of people and cultures.

The structure of the science learning area in The New Zealand Curriculum gives us the message that the Nature of Science strand is very important. Through this strand, students learn what science is and how scientists work – students learn to think and behave like scientists. Find out more about the strand at scienceonline.tki.org.nz/Nature-of-science.

The Enviroschools programme provides a context through which students can develop their understanding about the Nature of Science.

Examples of integration suggested in the table below are contexts where the four Nature of Science strands (investigating, understanding, communicating, participating and contributing) can be developed.

Investigating in science


The students need opportunities to make use of a variety of investigative approaches and understand which approach suits an investigation best.

Understanding about science

Allow students to make decisions based on evidence.

Communicating in science

Using scientific language appropriately, showing integrity with data gathering, and respecting others’ points of view are all important aspects of communicating in science.

Participating and contributing

Students need to be allowed and encouraged to be fully engaged, with opportunities to develop their curiosity about the world around them, and to look at things through a scientific lens.

Click the chart below to enlarge in PDF format:


enviroschools chart

– Carol Brieseman is a teacher at Hampton Hill School, Tawa, Wellington. In 2012, she won a Primary Science Fellowship and spent six months at NIWA. Following that, she returned to the classroom with a renewed passion for teaching science, and she has recently been awarded a Primary Science Teacher Fellowship Alumni Award from the Royal Society of New Zealand.


Post your comment


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments