Aotearoa New Zealand is an unusual place. Its millions of years of isolation allowed life to evolve in a unique environment. As a result, significant numbers of our fungi, plant and animal species are endemic – they naturally live here and nowhere else in the world.
The Department of Conservation notes that more than 4,000 native species are threatened or at risk due to habitat loss and introduced predators. Working to preserve what we have and the restoration of what we have lost are key to protecting our native and endemic species.
Conservation has additional benefits. It strengthens social and cultural links to our land and water. It also benefits our economy – especially the primary industries and tourism sectors.
Teaching in context
Conservation connects students to authentic scientific and technological processes and purposes. It allows students to explore:
- science concepts – including habitat, life cycles, animal behaviour, abundance and ecosystem connections
- technological knowledge – including trap designs, bait delivery systems and potential uses for pest byproducts (possum fur and turning koi carp into fertiliser, for example)
- socio-scientific issues and cross-curricular connections – pest control is a wicked problem that requires scientific knowledge to inform decisions and responses
- nature of science – collecting and interpreting data, using and examining evidence
- taking action – the ‘Engage with science’ aspect of the curriculum and science capabilities.
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 research. By using a combination of these resources, teachers can combine conceptual understanding and capabilities development into relevant learning experiences.
New Zealand Curriculum information
Conservation and conservation action comes under Living World.
- Living things are suited to a particular habitat and are interdependent with other living things within the ecosystem.
- Living things and their ecosystems respond to environmental changes, both natural and human induced.
- Plants, animals and other living things can be grouped into science-based classifications.
- Living things in New Zealand are quite different from living things in other parts of the world.
Nature of Science
- The need for data and accurate and reproducible methods for data collection.
- The use of scientific knowledge when considering local and national conservation issues.
- The need and use of evidence when making decisions and taking action on socio-scientific issues.
Conservation issues and action offer many opportunities to use and strengthen students’ science capabilities. Citizen science projects such as bird counts, litter surveys and marine monitoring provide opportunities for students to gather and interpret data and critique the evidence they’ve collected. Students also gain practice in interpreting representations. Perhaps most importantly, conservation action enables students to engage with science in real-life contexts.
These activities are useful when exploring conservation:
- Conservation ranking in action
- Ethics in bird conservation
- Whio habitats and conservation
- Hubbub Estuary
- Modelling marine stressors and tipping points
- Making a tracking tunnel
- Making a life-size leaf collection
- Environmental thinking and planning with ecosystem-based management (EBM)
The interactive inquiry and action learning process has pedagogical information to aid with planning and carrying out inquiry investigations on environmental issues.
We also have collections of useful resources from the Science Learning Hub and others in our Pinterest boards: