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  • Science is about discovery, curiosity and observation. Two key outcomes of any activity can simply be enjoyment and the conversations that arise from the experience. Take advantage of young people’s natural curiosity. Each topic has wrap-around resources to help with background information for the adults or caregivers.

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    Building on natural curiosity

    Young people are naturally curious – use this to encourage scientific discovery and observation.

    Science is everywhere, so it’s a great subject to learn from home. To get the most out of the activities, check out the article Learning science from home – ideas to deepen learning.

    You can start by thinking about what science skills you want to develop, knowledge you want to learn or just what you are really interested in – the Science Learning Hub has something for everyone. Below are some ideas to get you started. check out the Related content or Useful links, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you can’t find something that suits you.

    This resource was created in response to COVID-19 and incorporates activities that can be done at home or close to home.

    COVID-19 resources

    These resources provide useful background information and help with some of the specific language used to report on COVID-19:


    A note about safety: If you are able to find fungi in your backyard or when you walk in your local area, discuss these safety considerations. Only some fungi are edible, and many have unknown toxic side-effects and can be deadly if eaten. Even good eating species can cause allergies in some people. Fungi identification is important – if you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling, or just look and don’t touch.

    Many students have an understanding of the characteristics of plants and animals, but fungi – well, that can be an interesting discussion. Are fungi plants? Are they animals? Start with our articles Making a case for the 5th kingdom or All about fungi. You may be learning about MRS C GREN – discover how fungi fits in using the article Fungi life cycles – spores and more and find more on classification here.

    The Science Learning Hub has several activities exploring the world of fungi:

    • Observing fungi this hones students’ observation skills using the science capabilities ‘Gather and interpret data’ and ‘Interpret representations’.
    • Create a spore print from a mushroom to visualise spores.
    • If you feel your students have a good understanding of safety, let them Grow their own fungus. This activity would be a great one to feed back results to a group – just make sure they know how to clean up!

    The Science Learning Hub also has a range of bilingual resources exploring Māori knowledge and use of fungi. Give students time to explore the interactive Mātauranga Māori: Fungi as food and medicine and the article Fungi – the good, the bad and the ugly. Then students can test their knowledge using the online or paper-based Māori knowledge and uses of fungi quiz.

    There are also a range of videos available such as Dr Rebekah Fuller (Te Rarawa) looking at traditional Māori knowledge of New Zealand fungi.

    Matter – properties, states and the periodic table

    Matter is anything that has mass and occupies space, and it is lots of fun to learn about. Before starting this topic, think about the level your students are at. They may not be ready to conceptualise atoms just yet. Start by exploring properties of matter, observe what is around you and have a go at some simple classification. You can then talk about why different types of matter or materials have these different properties. The Connected article Turning old into new might help.

    Rights: The University of Waikato Te Whare Wānanga o Waikato

    Substances have physical and chemical properties

    A selection of images demonstrating various properties of matter.

    Lots of students have heard of solids, liquids and gases, but what do they actually mean? Unpack the articles States of matter and Solids, liquids and gases and consider co-constructing a map of important concepts using the activity Exploring states of matter. You could have a go now, then return later after having done some hands-on activities.

    Water is a helpful place to start, especially when students are learning from home. Activities can be very simple, such as freezing water and making observations of it melting then boiling. The article Melting and freezing explains the science behind the observations.

    The activity Looking at water – solid, liquid or gas requires students to understand that matter is made up of particles, so you may want to scaffold this by adapting the activity Water molecules in drama.

    Different states of water can be seen in action in the water cycle. Get students testing and discussing models.

    The periodic table is a really useful tool for scientists to know about. Give students an understanding of what the periodic table of elements is by using the activity Create a photographic periodic table – a great visual way to demonstrate their learning. The Science Learning Hub team has curated a collection of resources related to the periodic table of elements. Log in and make this part of your private collection by clicking on the copy icon. You can then add additional content and notes and make other changes.

    These are some other resources:

    • Development of the periodic table – use this article to find out about the first scientific discovery of an element in 1649 and how this grew into the periodic table as we know it today.
    • Atomic clock – use this teacher resource to familiarise students with the names and symbols of the chemical elements.
    • Element rap – in this activity, students become familiar with the names and symbols of the chemical elements by creating a rap or poem.
    • Symbol find – in this activity, students become familiar with symbols of the chemical elements by creating them using letters from a phrase or sentence.


    What flies? In this activity, students discuss what things can fly and how this happens. They work towards identifying some key characteristics of flight. The principles of flight and Investigating flight – introduction provide a good launch pad for learning more about the science of flight, or explore this timeline to look at some of the historical aspects of flight.

    Continue the learning with one or more of these activities:

    • Aerofoils and paper planes – learn how to make an aerofoil and to make and fly paper planes.
    • Making a glider – handcraft a glider from balsa wood and in the process learn about aerofoil wing shape, glider parts and terminology. Then experiment with flight using variables of wind and nose weight.
    • Kites – learn about some kite history and how kites fly before making and flying a kite.
    • Birds and planes – explore the importance of wing shape and size and how this determines the flight capabilities of birds and planes.

    Related content

    We can also help with learning at home for:

    Peruse these articles for engaging ideas or for extension opportunities. They are ideal if you have learners of different ages.

    Useful links

    See our Pinterest board – full of activities, articles and more to help teachers, schools and/or parents setting up online learning at home.

    Visit the Learning from home government website for more activity ideas.

    The Science Spark website has a range of guides and activities for children from ages 8 to 11.

      Published 1 April 2020 Referencing Hub articles
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