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The Shell Collector Capability: Engage with science NoS achievement aims: Investigating in science NoS achievement aims: Communicating in science NoS achievement aims: Participating and contributing Contextual strands: Living world Level : 2,3,4

Author: Peter Spratt. Connected 1, 2005 , pages 8–11.

This resource illustrates how a Connected article could provide a model for students to engage with science in the context of a real life issue.

Curriculum Aims and AOs

The Nature of Science strand


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

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 world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models.

L3 & 4:

Build on prior experiences, working together to share and examine their own and others' knowledge.

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

Communicating in science

Develop knowledge of the vocabulary, numeric and symbol systems, and conventions of science and use this knowledge to communicate about their own and others ideas.

L1 & 2:

Build their language and develop their understandings of the many ways the natural world can be represented.

L3 & 4:

Begin to use a range of scientific symbols, conventions and vocabulary.

Engage with a range of science texts and begin to question the purposes for which these texts are constructed.

Participating and contributing

Bring a scientific perspective to decisions and actions as appropriate


L1 & 2:

Explore and act on issues and questions that link their science learning to their daily living.

L3 & 4:

Use their growing science knowledge when considering issues of concern to them.

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 with the non-living environment.


L1 & 2:

Recognise that living things are suited to their environment.

L3 &4:

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

Learning focus

Students investigate an issue of interest to them to provide evidence that informs decision-making.

Learning activity

The article is about a student’s science investigation and discusses how she went about asking and investigating her question.

Adapting the resource

The article could be used for identifying the sorts of questions that students need to think about when investigating an issue.

Ask students the questions relevant to the article (in the left hand column of the table below), then get them to generalise the sorts of questions that they need to think about when they are carrying out their own investigations into an issue.

Questions relevant to The shell collector

Generalised questions

Capabilities needed (for teacher reference)

Being ready

What did Rebecca notice?

What did she think about what she noticed?

What was her question?

What did she already know?

What have I seen/noticed?

What is my hypothesis?

What does what I noticed make me think about?

What question do I want to investigate?

What do I already know about my topic?

  1. Gathering and interpreting data

Being willing

Why do you think Rebecca was interested in doing this investigation?

Why do I want to do this investigation?

How will I use what I find out to take action?

What is the best way to organise my data to show patterns and relationships?

Who will be interested in the results?

How will I present the results to convince others?

  1. Gathering and interpreting data
  2. Using evidence to support ideas
  3. Making sense of representations about science ideas

Being able

How did Rebecca set about investigating her question?

What data did she collect?

What did she find out?

Could there be other explanations from her data?

What was Rebecca's next question?

What is the best method to investigate my question?

What do I think the data means?

Could there be other explanations?

  1. Gathering and interpreting data
  2. Using evidence to support ideas
  3. Critiquing evidence

What’s important here?

Investigating real life issues that are of personal interest to students gives them the opportunity to practise playing the "game of science". The dispositional aspects are highlighted by the use of the headings "ready", " willing" and" able".

Scientifically literate citizens need to think about how they investigate specific questions, how the data collected builds on or challenges existing understandings, how to share their findings with others, and how what they find out informs next actions. They also need to recognise which questions can be answered by science.

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.

What are we looking for?

Can students:

  • identify the elements of a science investigation?
  • identify the points of decision making within an investigation?
  • show an awareness of when and what should be critiqued during an investigation into an issue?

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

This approach could be used to scaffold students working on science fair projects or inquiries.

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

Rocky shore food web (LW2015) (L3 & 4) Assessment Resource Banks

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

What’s my carbon footprint? (L5) Genesis Energy resource

Biomagnets (L5 & 6) NCEA Level 1 assessment exemplars

Key words

Connected, investigations