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  • Air is largely invisible, but we can feel it and see its effects when the wind blows. This set of five simple activities provides opportunities for students to observe the push of air and effects of air pressure in a variety of settings.

    The activities can be used with students working at New Zealand Curriculum levels 1 and 2. They also support the Exploration – Mana Aotūroa strand in Te Whāriki.

    For students working at NZC levels 3 and up, create and utilise diagrams to support and explain the mechanism behind the phenomenon.

    These activities support the development of the science capabilities as students:

    • engage in discussion with peers, using evidence to support their position
    • critique their own ideas and/or the ideas of others in terms of their validity and applicability
    • draw and utilise diagrams to show and explain the mechanism behind the phenomenon.

    During the activity, teachers are encouraged to support critical student thinking and use questioning to develop increased use of evidence and scientific reasoning.

    In this activity, students investigate the ‘push’ of air via a series of hands-on activities.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • discuss how air is invisible yet we can still observe how it takes up space
    • identify situations in which air acts as a physical barrier
    • make careful observations of phenomena
    • make inferences based on their observations
    • draw diagrams showing what they noticed during the activities (optional)
    • use the diagrams to provide supporting evidence for their explanation of the phenomena (optional).

    Related content and activities

    Building Science Concepts: The air around us provides background information pertinent to this set of activities. The article contains the interactive The air around us, which shows the likely progression of students’ conceptual thinking.

    The activity Balloons and air density explores how the same amount of air can take up different amounts of space depending on the temperature of the air molecules.

    Download the PDF Kupu Māori mō te hau takiwā – a glossary of kupu Māori that supports learning about air.

    Useful links

    Library of experiences is a working paper written by science education specialist Ally Bull. It provides additional detail and practical examples to support the report Primary science education for the 21st century: How, what, why?

      Published 8 November 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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