In this activity, students use different pieces of a jigsaw to work through a process of observation, discussion, collaboration and deduction to determine what the picture shows. The activity is designed to help students learn about the nature of science – in particular, the collaborative nature of science and the ways in which scientists work with evidence. The story of Joan Wiffen, our most prominent citizen scientist, is used as a context, as the pieces of evidence she discovered and how she connected the pieces into theories changed the way we think about the geological history of New Zealand.
Collaboration is an important aspect of current New Zealand scientific research. This whakataukī is about the value of collaboration:
Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi.
With your food basket and my food basket, our people will flourish.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to:
● draw inferences and make predictions about the complete picture
● identify the value of working together and sharing information and ideas
● use the jigsaw as an analogy for explaining some of the important aspects of the nature of science such as collaboration, observation and inference.
Download the Word file (see link below) for:
● background information for teachers
● equipment list
● student instructions.
Nature of science
This activity models how scientists work collaboratively in teams, sharing data and ideas to prove or disprove theories, identify patterns, discover connections, uncover new solutions to existing problems and corroborate findings. This fits into the ‘Understanding about science’ and ‘Investigating in science’ aspects of the NZC.
Use literacy resources from the School Journal and Connected to support science understanding:
- The Dinosaur Hunter Year 5:Level 3; Sep 2012; p18–23
- Mary Anning: Fossil Hunter Year 6:Level 3; Sep 2012; p8–17
- A New Zealand Crocodile? Year 6: Connected No.3 2013; p8–13
This activity is referred to in the PLD session Making sense of data and could be reinforced by showing the videos Joan Wiffen and her fossils and How old is that dinosaur? and/or doing the activity Fossil correlation. The article Joan Wiffen profiles her work as one of New Zealand’s heritage scientists.