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  • Flowers are a common sight in most New Zealand school grounds. They offer a colourful starting point to teach about plant reproduction and adaptation and offer opportunities to extend into horticulture, agriculture and native ecosystems.

    Teaching in context

    Research shows that students are interested in learning science when the topic has relevance to them. Using a realistic context as the basis for learning science has the potential to give significance and meaning to what might otherwise resemble a list of facts. A realistic context connects students to authentic scientific processes and purposes. It links science knowledge with societal outcomes and provides insights into scientific careers.

    Pollination is more than honey bees flying from flower to flower. For New Zealand’s primary producers, reliable pollination is crucial for crop production. It’s also a serious issue for our native forests. Declining native bird populations are affecting plants that rely on them for pollination and seed dispersal.

    Pollination – as a context – allows students to explore:

    • science and society – connecting students’ real-world experiences to the science and how it affects them
    • science concepts – reproduction, classification, adaptation, genetic inheritance and ecosystems
    • New Zealand research – using science and technology to aid crops that are hard to pollinate like avocados and kiwifruit.

    Interactive planning pathways

    Teachers can use Hub resources as starting points for context-based learning. The planning map below provides a gateway to collections of articles, multimedia, student activities and stories of New Zealand’s science and engineering sectors. By using a combination of these resources, teachers can combine conceptual understanding, capabilities development and assessment opportunities into relevant learning experiences.

    To sort and annotate these resources for later reference, log in and use our Collections tool. There is an Add to collection button on each page. Visit the article Creating collections for further Collections tool instructions.

    New Zealand Curriculum information

    Learning about pollination comes under Living World.

    Life processes:

    • Plant life cycles
    • Sexual reproduction
    • Key plant structural features and functions (levels 5 and 6)
    • Diversity among plants (levels 7 and 8).


    • Habitats
    • How plants respond to environmental changes
    • Interdependence in an ecosystem (level 5)
    • Impacts on ecosystems (level 6)
    • Ecological distribution patterns and relationships (levels 7 and 8).


    • Classification
    • Unique New Zealand species
    • Genetic inheritance (levels 5 and 6).

    Nature of science

    The nature of science strand is interwoven throughout the Hubs resources.

    Links to NOS within the science articles include:

    • how scientists manipulate variables to compare investigation results
    • how data collection can overturn longstanding assumptions
    • the links between science and technology in solving pollination problems
    • socio-scientific issues regarding declining native bird life and the knock-on effects on native plant pollination.

    Links to NOS within the student activities include:

    • use of models for the insect pollination process
    • use of scientific vocabulary and texts (including visual and numerical literacy).

    Science capabilities

    The science articles and activities contain numerous diagrams and models that will allow students to practise interpreting representations.

    Opportunities for assessment

    Summative assessment opportunities using Hub resources:

    • Discussion of diagrams and models to monitor student understanding of science concepts and correct use of scientific terms.
    • Most of the student activities include written worksheets for the students to complete and provide snapshots of learning.

    The Assessment Resource Bank has a number of resources involving vocabulary, interpreting data and using diagrams. Examples include the structure and function of flowers, interdependence in the garden, interpreting information from a table and using knowledge to build evidence.

    Professional development opportunities

    The Hub has a recorded PLD webinar: Agriculture and horticulture. It uses Hub resources to support three particular aspects – soils, plant reproduction and management practices. The PLD webinar was based on the legacy Science Learning Hub. However, all the resources are still available on the new-look Science Learning Hub site.

    Related content

    Another way to explore this topic is using a question bank within an inquiry approach.

    Explore the rākau/tree unit of learning created by Mokoro Gillett (Tumuaki o Te Wharekura o Te Rau Aroha) and Norman Mason (botanist at Manaaki Whenua).

    Activity idea

    Ākonga use online and/or paper resources to identify and label parts of a pua/flower. Choose labelling options for te reo Māori or English or both!

      Published 28 November 2017 Referencing Hub articles
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