Observation forms the basis of both mātauranga Māori and science.
Possibly the most powerful model of inspiration that we can draw from our ancestors is that of careful, purposeful care and observation. Through approaches informed by time-honoured holistic observations, and enhanced by technological advancements, our fluency in the reo of the awa can be renewedTina Ngata, Ngāti Porou, on the whakapapa of life-giving freshwater
Observation is a skill that improves with practice and knowledge. Our senses allow us to gather information about our local environment. They help deepen our understanding about things while piquing our curiosity to discover more.
This activity offers observation experiences in an outdoor school setting. Use it to expand student experiences regarding observations or as a practice session before visiting a wetland, forested area or other natural habitat.
Rather than set out prescribed instructions, this resource will identify ways in which students can carry out observations and build their science capabilities.
In this activity, students have the opportunity to actively use all five senses to make observations in an outdoor school setting.
By the end of this activity, students should be able to:
- make an observation using one or more senses
- make an inference from an observation
- share a question that arises from the observation
- transfer skills learned in a school-based observation to other outdoor settings.
Download the Word file (see link below).
Read about scientific observation in these articles
Use these activities to practise observational skills
- Developing observation skills in younger students
- Observation: learning to see
- Observation and the mystery box
- Determining the properties of plastic and glass
Use this activity to practise literacy skills
These PLD webinars offer help in building students’ observation skills
Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland is a wetland restoration handbook created within a te ao Māori perspective. It has a strong emphasis on observation and listening to what the repo have to tell us. Although observation is key to all aspects of repo restoration, these sections have information about using the senses other than sight that will be useful for monitoring and gathering information:
- Wātakirihi – Te huakita o te wātakirihi – bacterial quality of watercress by Lorraine Dixon (Ngāti Whaawhaakia)
- Ruru – he tangi na te ruru – conversations in the night by Rangi Mahuta (Waikato), Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman, (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Rangi) and Huriwai Paki (Ngāi Tūhoe)
- Matamata – eating with our tūpuna by Rangi Mahuta (Waikato), Cheri van Schravendijk-Goodman (Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Rangi) and Cindy Baker (Taihoro Nukurangi)
Thank you to the editors and contributors of Te Reo o Te Repo – The Voice of the Wetland for permission and support to adapt this publication, and funding from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and MBIE’s Unlocking Curious Minds initiative.