The Ethics in science planner is a planning template designed to help teachers plan for and teach ethical thinking in their science programmes. The ethical thinking may occur as part of a stand-alone unit, but embedding it within a wider topic of learning can support students’ learning both in relation to the topic of study and the development of their ethical thinking skills.

Why teach ethics in science?

As science and technology advance, ethical issues are brought to the fore not only for scientists and technologists but also for the general public. Science and technology education reflects this shift, with the social aspects of science and technology reflected in the New Zealand Curriculum.

It is important to incorporate ethics teaching in science because science does not happen in isolation of its social context. Ethical discussions can also:

  • engage students in science learning
  • enhance students’ understanding of science concepts
  • highlight the relevance of science learning for everyday living and citizenship
  • develop students’ argumentation, critical thinking and decision-making skills
  • help students to become more ethically aware and discerning
  • increase scientific literacy and the ability of our students to contribute to society as responsible citizens.

The article Teaching ethics provides an overview with extensive ideas to support teaching ethics in science.

The Ethics in science planner

Using a subject-specific planning tool supports the development and articulation of a teacher’s pedagogical content knowledge and can be particularly useful when teaching in a new area. This planner is specific to ethics in science.

The planning template is a one-page layout that is easy to view but includes the important components for teaching ethics in science. It is intended that teachers complete the planner digitally as they work through it. Some of the components have links to give teachers ideas to consider.

Download the Word files (see links below) for:

  • the Ethics in science planner template
  • an example illustrating how the planner was used for a level 3/4 unit on conservation of the takahē.

Activity idea

The Ethics thinking toolkit provides students with scaffolding when using a range of different ethical frameworks or approaches.

Useful links

A selection of resources around science and ethics can also be viewed on our Pinterest board and in a bucket on Pond.


Cowie, B., Moreland, J., Jones., & Otrel-Cass, K. (2008). The classroom InSiTE project: Understanding classroom interactions to enhance teaching and learning in science and technology in Years 1-8. Retrieved from Teaching and Learning Research Initiative: .

Ryan, B.E. (2011). Teaching ethics in the primary science classroom: Planning support for teachers (Master’s thesis, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand). Retrieved from



    Published 12 June 2012