Both science and mātauranga pūtaiao build knowledge and understanding about our world. Often, we start with curiosity about something we’ve noticed and we want to find out more. At other times, we start with a question we want to answer or a problem we need to solve.
Investigations are an important process that enable scientists and kairangahau Māori to generate, test and clarify ideas by systematically collecting appropriate evidence. They can be short term or observations made over generations. Investigations can also challenge current understanding, creating new knowledge and understanding.
What we want to explore, discover or confirm ranges widely in nature and complexity. All learners are able to gather data, from making simple observations to setting up and carrying out a fair test. It is important to provide multiple opportunities for students across all levels to formulate questions and carry out various investigation approaches. Allowing students to have a go, supporting them to learn by evaluating errors and developing their skills in investigating is essential to developing their scientific capabilities.
Formulating questions, choosing an appropriate investigation approach and implementing it correctly and evaluating the findings are key to a successful investigation. Scientific investigations all involve making observations, collecting and interpreting data, gathering evidence and drawing conclusions based on the information known at the time. Different investigation approaches are used depending on the question that is being asked. Investigation approaches could include exploring and observing, pattern seeking, investigating models, classifying and identifying, and fair testing.
Nature of science
Science and mātauranga pūtaiao can be described as knowledge systems – particular ways of thinking about, investigating and understanding the world.
Mātauranga has led me to look at the world in a different way and to see things I hadn’t seen before. If my work encourages people to go out and to think about the world in a different way or to learn more about scientific processes, for me, that’s a win.Scientist Dr Priscilla Wehi is a transdisciplinary researcher weaving together mātauranga Māori, biology, chemistry and culture.
The nature of science (NoS) describes how science understanding is developed, validated and communicated. NoS is an important aspect of scientific literacy. Understanding how science works provides a deeper level of understanding when exploring science concepts and enables learners to make informed decisions about socio-scientific issues.
Sometimes we assume that students will learn about the nature of science just by doing scientific investigations. This is no more valid than assuming a student will learn about photosynthesis by watching a leaf in the sun. We need to explicitly teach about the nature of science as well as teach science content and do science.
Science is an enterprise that should be cherished as an activity of the free human mind. Because it transforms who we are, how we live, and it gives us an understanding of our place in the universe.Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist and science communicator)
This article explores more about investigations in science.
This activity uses a tangram with an extra piece to draw parallels to aspects of the nature of science.
This activity is designed to explicitly teach ideas about the nature of science.
This is the home for the new NCEA standards.