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The night sky: Patterns, observations, and traditions Capability: Use evidence NoS achievement aims: Understanding about science Contextual strands: Planet Earth and beyond Level : 3,4

The Night Sky: Patterns, Observations, and Traditions. Building Science Concepts, Booklet 28

This resource illustrates how an activity from Building Science Concepts can be adapted to provide opportunities for students to strengthen their capability to use evidence to support ideas in the context of science.

Curriculum Aims and AOs

The Nature of Science strand


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Understanding about Science

Learn about science as a knowledge system: the features of scientific knowledge and the processes by which it is developed; and learn about the ways in which the work of scientists interacts with society.

L3 & 4:

Appreciate that science is a way of explaining the world and that science knowledge changes over time.

Planet Earth and Beyond


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Astronomical systems

Investigate and understand relationships between Earth, Moon, Sun, solar system, and other systems in the universe.

L3 & 4:

Investigate the components of the solar system, (developing an appreciation of the distances between them.)

Learning focus

Students identify how new data can cause scientists to revise their explanations. 

Learning activity

In Section 3, Activity 2 (page 15), students are challenged to find ways in which new technologies have assisted research into space objects.

Adapting the resource

By slightly re-focusing this activity to highlight the data collected by these technologies, rather than the technologies themselves, opportunities are provided for students to think about how scientific explanations can change as new evidence comes to light.

For example:

  • The traditional view that the Moon was entirely dry has been proven to be incorrect in recent years. How? What is the evidence?
  • Astronomers used to think there were canals on Mars. What evidence do we now have that this is not true?
  • How many moons does Jupiter have? How do we know?

What’s important here?

Science is a way of explaining the world. Any explanations developed are provisional and may eventually be proved wrong if new evidence comes to light. In this way science is dynamic and self correcting.

Developing an appreciation of whatcounts as evidence in science supports students to become scientifically literate, i.e., to participate as critical, informed, and responsible citizens in a society in which science plays a significant role. (This is the purpose of science in NZC.)

What are we looking for?

Can students identify why scientific explanations sometimes change?

Are students developing a sense of what counts as evidence?

Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels

For suggestions about adapting tasks in ways that allow students to show progress in using evidence to support ideas see Progressions .

Exploring further

The Assessment Resource Banks item  Moon quiz (PE9039)  could be further developed by adding the question, “How do you know?” after each response.

On page 111 of Making Better Sense of Planet Earth and Beyond there is a timeline setting out some important dates in the history of space exploration. Students could be challenged to find out what data was produced from the different explorations. Did any of this data lead to scientists changing their views about space?

The Assessment Resource Banks item  Meat-eating and plant-eating dinosaurs (LW0522)  does not need adapting – the focus is already on providing evidence.

Other resources for this capability

The White-tailed Spider (L1 & 2) Ready to Read series, 2010, Guided Reading level: Gold 

The Air around Us: Exploring the Substance We Live in (L1, 2, 3 & 4) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 30

Floating and Sinking (L1, 2, 3 & 4) Building Science Concepts, Booklets 37 & 38

Chemical Popguns (L1, 2, 3 & 4) Making Better Sense of the Material World

Tomato – Fruit or Vegetable? (L2 & 3) Connected 2, 2000

Solar Energy: Sun Power on Earth (L2, 3 & 4) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 29

A Bird in the Hand (L3 & 4) Connected 3, 2007

Food of wild cats (LW1019) (L5) Assessment Resource Banks

Charged! MacDiarmid’s Electroplastic (L5) Applications, 2003

Takahē: Back from the Brink (L5) Applications, 2007

Conflicting theories for the origin of the Moon (L5) Science Online

Speed and distance: It’s a drag (L5) Digistore on TKI

Key Words

Building Science Concepts, space