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ARTICLE

How elements are formed

Our world is made of elements and combinations of elements called compounds. An element is a pure substance made of atoms that are all of the same type. At present, 116 elements are known, and ...

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ARTICLE

The nitrogen cycle

Nitrogen is the most abundant element in our planet’s atmosphere. Approximately 78% of the atmosphere is made up of nitrogen gas (N2). Nitrogen is a crucially important component for all life. It ...

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ARTICLE

What is fire?

Fire is the visible effect of the process of combustion – a special type of chemical reaction. It occurs between oxygen in the air and some sort of fuel. The products from the chemical reaction ...

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ARTICLE

Development of the periodic table

Although elements such as gold, silver, tin, copper, lead and mercury have been known since earliest times, the first scientific discovery of an element occurred in 1649. Hennig Brand, a German ...

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ARTICLE

What is smoke?

What is smoke and why do some fires seem to have more smoke than others? Smoke is a collection of tiny solid, liquid and gas particles. Although smoke can contain hundreds of different chemicals ...

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ARTICLE

Fire behaviour

Fires behave differently. Some burn slowly and evenly; others are extremely hot, burning fiercely and quickly. Different fires have different coloured flames. Some fires start easily; others ...

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Non-renewable energy sources

Energy comes from many sources, and to describe these sources we use two terms: renewable and non-renewable. Non-renewable energy resources cannot be replaced – once they are used up, they will ...

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Light and telescopes

The universe is full of amazing things, but we need help to see most of them. There are many types of light that our eyes cannot see, so we use instruments, such as telescopes, that can detect ...

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ARTICLE

Water density

Water density changes with temperature and salinity. Density is measured as mass (g) per unit of volume (cm³). Water is densest at 3.98°C and is least dense at 0°C (freezing point). Why does ice ...

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Water and ice

Looking down at the Earth from space, you can get an idea of just how much water there is. In fact, around 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. Oceans make up about 97% of the world’s ...

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Ecosystems

What is an ecosystem? An ecosystem is made up of animals, plants and bacteria as well as the physical and chemical environment they live in. The living parts of an ecosystem are called biotic ...

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ARTICLE

Metals, alloys and metal compounds

From titanium implants to new superconducting alloys to useful metal compounds, we are increasingly dependent on metals. Without metals, modern civilisation would literally collapse. About 80% of ...

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ARTICLE

Soil formation

New Zealand has a wide variety of landscapes. A day’s sightseeing journey might include volcanic plateaus, rolling hills, river basins and coastal lands. It is easy to notice how the scenery ...

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ARTICLE

Lightning explained

Lightning is a large-scale natural spark discharge that occurs within the atmosphere or between the atmosphere and the Earth’s surface. On discharge, a highly electrically conductive plasma ...

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ARTICLE

Distances in space

Distances in space are really, really big. The Voyager 1 spacecraft is heading out of our Solar System at 62,000 km per hour, but even at that speed, it would take it 77,000 years to reach the ...

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ACTIVITY

Big Bang theory

In this activity, students gain understanding of the role the Large Hadron Collider is playing in exploring the current models for the structure of matter. It is a video clip and science article ...

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Plasmas explained

We happily live in the Earth’s gaseous lower atmosphere composed of a mixture of gases – primarily nitrogen and oxygen. However, if we move upwards from the Earth’s surface, the environment ...

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Renewable energy sources

Renewable energy is fuel that comes from a source that can be replenished in a short amount of time. This includes solar, wind, water, geothermal power and bioenergy. While renewable energy ...

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TEACHER PLD

Linking ideas, activities and lessons

In the primary classroom, even though teachers and students generally spend the day together, it cannot be assumed that students will experience their learning as coherent, connected or ...

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