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Magnet investigation Capability: Critique evidence NoS achievement aims: Understanding about science Contextual strands: Physical world Level : 2,3,4

PW3662, Assessment Resource Banks

This resource illustrates how an Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) task can be adapted to provide opportunities for students to strengthen their capability to critique evidence 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; the processes by which it is developed, and the ways in which the work of scientists interacts with society.

L1 & 2:

Appreciate that scientists ask questions about our world that lead to investigations and that open-mindedness is important because there may be more than one explanation.

L3 & 4:

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

Investigating in science

Carry out science investigations using a variety of approaches: classifying and identifying, pattern seeking, exploring, investigating models, fair testing, making things, or developing systems.

L1 & 2:

Extend their experiences and personal explanations of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models.

L3 & 4:

Ask questions, find evidence, explore simple models, and carry out appropriate investigations to develop simple explanations.

Physical World


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Physical inquiry and physics concepts

Students will explore and investigate physical phenomena in everyday situations.

L1 & 2:

Explore everyday examples of physical phenomena, such as movement, forces, electricity and magnetism, light, sound, waves, and heat.

L3 & 4:

Explore, describe, and represent patterns and trends for everyday examples of physical phenomena, such as movement, forces, electricity and magnetism, light, sound, waves, and heat. For example, identify and describe the effect of forces (contact and non-contact) on the motion of objects; identify and describe everyday examples of sources of energy, forms of energy, and energy transformations.

Learning focus

Students ask questions to evaluate the trustworthiness of data.

Learning activity

This ARBs item requires students to transfer data from a chart to a bar graph and answer the question, “Which magnet is the strongest?” In its current form this item assesses students’ ability to create a bar graph and read it to answer a question. It could be easily adapted to provide an opportunity for students to strengthen their capability to critique evidence.

Adapting the resource

Ask the students what questions they would want answered if they had to decide whether or not they could trust the data they have been given, and why these questions are important.  For example:

  • How did Jay design her investigation? [This is important because we need to know something about how data is gathered to know whether we can trust it.]
  • How many times did Jay test each magnet? [This is important because multiple trials give more reliable data.]
  • Did she test each one in the same way? [It is important to control all the variables except the one being tested.]
  • Were the paper clips all the same sort? [This is also about controlling variables.]

What’s important here?

In order to evaluate the trustworthiness of data students need to know quite a lot about the qualities of scientific tests so they know what questions to ask. It is not enough just to know how to do a “fair test” – students need to know why protocols such as repeated trials, controlling variables, accurate measurements etc are important.

Developing an appreciation of how evidence in science is generated 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?

Do students understand that how the data are gathered affects the trustworthiness of the data?

Do they know what questions to ask?

Are they developing a “sceptical disposition” towards evidence? (Do they question knowledge claims rather than simply accepting them as true?)

Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels

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

Exploring further

This adaptation could be used in any contexts where a knowledge claim is being made. Science fairs would provide a rich context.

Other resources for this capability

Key words

Assessment Resource Banks, ARBs, magnets