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Frequently used contexts and science stories

Some contexts and science stories on the Science Learning Hub are more popular and easier to use by primary teachers. These are in addition to the junior science stories.

Almost all of the butterflies in New Zealand are native, and most are endemic. Compared to big, colourful species from other countries, our native butterflies are small and secretive.

Dating the Past
Learn how geologists find out the ages of rocks and fossils to help explain how New Zealand’s structure – and the life it supports – has changed over millions of years.

Earthquakes help shape New Zealand and are a constant threat in many parts of the country. The more we understand about what causes them, the more we can be prepared.

To most of us, one earthworm resembles another. Although earthworms do have common characteristics, species differ widely in their size, skin colour and the roles they play in the soil ecosystem.

Looking through magnifying glasses, it’s actually really fun, because when you look up close, they look very different. You get to measure them and time how fast they are. 

- Student

Ferns are abundant in our New Zealand landscape, making them a major part of our ecosystems. In this context, we explore the science of ferns through the work of botanists.

Fighting Infection
Use this context to explore the immune system and infectious diseases. It covers questions such as: What’s going on inside us when we get sick? What do germs have to do with us getting sick? How does our body help us to get better? How does it fight infection?

This context aims to answer these questions: What actually is fire? How does it start? How and why does it behave in different ways? How can we prevent it from starting or reduce its destructiveness?

We will continue to use the Hub as it is teacher friendly and easy to navigate. The topics are relevant and the work has been done for us. The students find the site interesting and easy to use too.

- Teacher

What is flight? People have different ideas about what flies. In this context, we explore winged flight through birds, planes, gliders, hang-gliders and kites.

H2O On the Go
In the future, water may be our most valuable commodity. Understanding the water cycle – the continuous movement of water through the Earth’s upper crust, surface and atmosphere – is crucial.

Harnessing the Sun
Scientists have learned to harness the Sun, transforming its energy to meet our need. This science story examines how we harness the Sun, from the time of Māui in the mystical land of Aotearoa to the present day.

Hidden Taonga
Scientists at Landcare Research use their collections as a reference book while they explore New Zealand’s hidden ecosystems to answer questions related to classification, conservation and biosecurity.

Life in the Sea
New Zealand scientists use a range of methods to learn about life in the sea around us. How do our marine organisms interact, and how do we affect them?

Learn about the role of flowers in the life cycles of flowering plants. Discover how flowers ensure the transfer of pollen, and meet some of the unsuspecting animal pollinators.

Rocket science includes ideas of forces and motion, how rockets work and some of the challenges for those wanting to make rockets go faster and higher.

Saving Reptiles and Amphibians
What’s unique about our native reptiles and amphibians, and why are they at risk? Learn more about the science behind conservation efforts for our frogs, tuatara, skinks and geckos here in New Zealand.

It challenges me to push what I do a bit further, and it guides me really well in teaching science. Because the resource was so clear for me, I’m now able to take them [the children] that much further. It opens a window into just so many other worlds that children this age wouldn’t get to see.


Soil, Farming and Science
What do soil, farming and science have to do with each other? Learn about the effects farming can have on the environment and explore innovative science ideas that can help farmers and the environment.

Space Revealed
New Zealand astronomers use different wavelengths of light to reveal information about stars and galaxies and to find new planets. Learn about our Solar System at the same time.

The Noisy Reef
In this context, travel under the waves to the reefs of New Zealand to explore sound and noise – what sound is, how it travels, what changes under water and how animals use it.

Tōku Awa Koiora
This context investigates the restoration of the lower half of the Waikato River. Kaitiaki are working to restore and protect the health and wellbeing of the river.

Learn how New Zealand’s most poisonous creature was discovered through the investigative work of scientists. Discover what toxins are, how they are identified and how they enter the food web.

This context looks at uncovering our explosive past. How do volcanoes work? Where do they form? What does this mean for the people who live around them? Meet the scientists finding the answers to these questions.

Science gives students the understanding to make decisions that will be more useful than if somebody just said ‘Here’s a civil defence book. These are the things you need’. They can actually understand why they need these things and how their families will be affected.

- Primary school teacher

You, Me and UV
The good and the bad of ultraviolet radiation. What actually is ultraviolet radiation? Where does it come from? What effects does it have on the Earth and on our bodies? Can we put ultraviolet radiation to good use?