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  • Scientists from Lakes380 – Our lakes’ health: past, present, future sampled around 10% of lakes in Aotearoa New Zealand larger than 1 hectare (about the size of a rugby field). They collected water samples, surface sediment samples and sediment cores – tubes of mud that can be ‘read’ or interpreted much like a history book. The scientists have used data from the sediment cores to produce information sheets about the histories of the lakes.

    This activity uses the Lakes380 information sheets to build student understanding of the nature of science and the science capabilities:

    • Scientists depend on empirical evidence – and the interpretations/inferences they draw from it – to produce scientific knowledge. The science capability ‘Critique evidence’ encourages students to consider how data is collected and interpreted and how we know it is reliable.
    • Scientists present the data in a variety of ways. The science capability ‘Interpret representations’ encourages students to think about how data is presented, what the representation tells us and how it gets the message across.

    Visual representations contain literacy and numeracy components that students may need support to understand.

    In this activity, students observe and interpret text and visual data from Lakes380 information sheets. The activity includes discussion questions to help students consider how the data was collected and how the information is presented via text and visual representations.

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

    • develop literacy and numeracy skills for interpreting information from area graphs
    • identify the components of a graph
    • discuss the data provided by the graph
    • discuss the purpose of the graph
    • discuss the origins of the data.

    Download the Word file (see link below).

    Related content

    These articles provide useful background information:

    Related activities

    What might the data from your local lake tell you? Exploring my local lake gets students interested in lakes in their area.

    Reading graphs in science offers experiences in exploring and interpreting visual representations.

    Useful links

    Visit Lakes380 to find out how and why the project is collecting and analysing sediments and water samples from lakes across Aotearoa. The lakes sampled are found here. Use filters to search for lake types and regions.

    This Lakes380 webpage provides additional information about the types of lab analysis used to collect lake data.

    He reo nō te puehu – A voice from the dust is an example of how mātauranga Māori and evidence from sediment cores have been used to visualise the changes to Lake Moawhitu over the last 1,000 years and what it could look like in the future.

    Watch this simulation to see how lakebed or seabed sediment cores are collected.


    This resource has been developed in collaboration with Lakes380 – Our lakes’ health: past, present, future (C05X1707), Cawthron Institute and GNS Science.

      Published 9 February 2023 Referencing Hub articles
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