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  • Gather & Interpret dataGather & Interpret data
  • Use evidenceUse evidence
  • Critique evidenceCritique evidence
  • Interpret representationsInterpret representations
  • Engage with scienceEngage with science
  • Understanding about scienceUnderstanding about science
  • Investigating in scienceInvestigating in science
  • Communicating in scienceCommunicating in science
  • Participating and contributingParticipating and contributing
  • Living worldLiving world
  • Material worldMaterial world
  • Physical worldPhysical world
  • Planet Earth and beyondPlanet Earth and beyond

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Rocky shore food web Capability: Engage with science NoS achievement aims: Participating and contributing Contextual strands: Living world Level : 3,4

LW2015, Assessment Resource Banks

This resource illustrates how an Assessment Resource Banks item can be adapted to build students’ capabilities to engage with science in real life situations.

Curriculum Aims and AOs

The Nature of Science strand


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Participating and contributing

Bring a scientific perspective to decisions and actions as appropriate.

L3 & 4:

Explore various aspects of an issue and make decisions about possible actions.

Living World


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource


Understand how living things interact with each other and the non-living environment.

L3 & 4:

Explain how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced.

Learning focus

Students develop their awareness of the range of consequences an action might have.

Learning activity

This Assessment Resource Banks item is about interpreting food chains and food webs. The existing resource provides an opportunity for students to strengthen their capability to make sense of representations about science ideas. It can be easily adapted though to foreground the idea that any particular action can have a range of consequences.

Adapting the resource

First, work through the existing activity as a class, checking that students can read and construct a food web.  Now ask:

If the crabs all developed a disease and died what would be the consequences for the other species in the food web?

Encourage students to give as many responses as they can, supporting their ideas with reasons. Students should be encouraged to think about both short term and long term consequences. [For example, in the short term there may be lots more chiton (because there are no crabs to eat them). There might be fewer mussels (because seagulls don’t have anything else to eat). With more chiton and fewer mussels there might be more plant plankton and less seaweed. When the seaweed is eventually all eaten the chiton will die off because they will have nothing to eat and the shrimps will only be able to eat plant plankton, etc.]

Encourage students to use tentative language (might, may be, it depends, etc.) when they are suggesting consequences. This reinforces the idea that it is often difficult to predict in advance what the consequences might be.

Lead a discussion about the sorts of questions students would need answered to be surer of their predicted consequences. [What is the life span of a chiton? How quickly do they breed? How mobile are crabs (i.e., how long would it be before new ones came into the area)?]

What’s important here?

Supporting 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 is the purpose of science in NZC.

Scientifically literate citizens need to understand that any action has a range of consequences. This should help alert them to the possibility of unintended environmental consequences when decisions are made.

What are we looking for?

Can students identify a range of possible consequences (both short term and long term) and give reasons for their answers?

Do they use tentative language when making predictions?

Are they willing to explore a range of possibilities?

Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels

For suggestions about adapting tasks in ways that allow students to show progress in engaging with science see  Progressions .

Exploring further

The Science Learning Hub has several resources exploring food webs. There is also a related example in the science exemplars:

Living World level 4 exemplar

Other resources for this capability

Yucky bugs (L1, 2, 3 & 4) Video from DOC website 

Staying Alive (L2) Connected 2, 2012

Hukanui Enviroschool (L2, 3 & 4) Connected 3, 2002

The Shell Collector (L2, 3 & 4)Connected 1, 2005

Rapid response to the Rena (L3 & 4) Science Learning Hub

Tidal Communities: Interdependence and the Effects of Change (L3 & 4) Building Science Concepts, Book 22

Science Fairs (L3 & 4) No specific resource

Solving the dog death mystery (L5) Science Learning Hub

The Gene Seekers (L5) Applications, 2001

Calculating your carbon footprint (L5) Genesis Energy resource

Biomagnets (L5 & 6) NCEA Level 1 assessment exemplars

Key words

Assessment Resource Banks, environment