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Making Puddles Capability: Gather & Interpret data NoS achievement aims: Investigating in science Contextual strands: Material world Level : 1,2

Author: Sue Averill & Room 7, Westshore School.  Connected 1, 2000, pages 12-17

This resource illustrates how an article from Connected can be adapted to provide opportunities for students to strengthen their capability to gather and interpret data in the context of science.

Curriculum Aims and AOs

The Nature of Science strand


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Investigating in science

Carry out scientific 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.

The Material World and Physical World strands


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Material World:

Properties and changes of matter

Investigate the properties of materials.

L1 & 2:

Observe, describe and compare physical and chemical properties of common materials and changes that occur when materials are … heated.

Physical World:

Physical inquiry and physics concepts

Explore and investigate physical phenomena in everyday situations.


L1 &2:

Explore everyday examples of physical phenomena, such as … heat.

Seek and describe simple patterns in physical phenomena.

Learning focus

Students examine the results from an investigation and make inferences based on the data.

Learning activity

The article is about a class investigation into the role of the sun in evaporating puddles. At intervals the children drew around puddles and then talked about the results.

Adapting the resource

This article provides an opportunity for students to differentiate between data produced during an investigation and making inferences from this data. Because evaporation is a process that is invisible (although we can see the puddle getting smaller, we cannot see water in its gaseous form), students have to make inferences to explain where the water has gone. 

The table below shows the sorts of questions that the teachercan ask to focus students on

a) The data collected from an investigation

b) Inferences that can be made from that data.

Questions that focus on data

Questions that focus on inference

What happened to both puddles? [they disappeared]

What did you see/notice about the puddles?

Where do you think the water might have gone?

Do you have any evidence to support that idea? (This question is more about supporting ideas with evidence, but is a logical follow on to making observations and inferring from them.)

Which puddle took longer/shorter to dry up? Why do you think that might be?

To strengthen students’ awareness that there are two distinct actions, encourage them to talk about or record “What we see” and “What we think”.

What’s important here?

What counts as evidence in science are observations (direct and indirect) of the natural physical world. Observation and measurement provide the tools for noticing patterns. Noticing the details of what happens provides a sound basis for developing and justifying explanations about the natural world.

Developing an appreciation of what counts 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?

When you ask, “What do you see?”

When you ask, “What do you think?”

Do students limit their answers to things that are observable?

How much detail do they include?

Do they notice patterns and relationships in the data?

Do students support their ideas with their observations?

Do they draw on a number of observations to support their ideas?

Do they generalise from different sets of data?

Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels

For suggestions about adapting tasks in ways that allow students to show progress in gathering and interpreting data see Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels .

Exploring further

If you want to include this activity as part of a larger unit of work, consider students posing their own questions about other environmental factors that make a puddle evaporate more quickly. Students would then have opportunities for examining and explaining their own sets of data.

Rēwena: the Queen of Breads (Connected 1, 2003, page 23) describes how to make rēwena bread. If students actually do this, there are opportunities for them to notice and describe changes occurring and make inferences about what causes the changes to the dough.

The Shell Collector (Connected 1, 2005, pages 8-11) describes a real example of a student’s investigation about what eats native snails. Students could identify what she noticed, and what this made her think about. This article is the basis for a capability 5 resource.

The Assessment Resource Banks include many examples of data from investigations that students could discuss and differentiate between what they can see and what they think about. See for example:

The Building Science Concepts series includes several booklets that contain activities that could be used for Level 1 & 2 students to foreground making meaning from observations. See for example:

Other resources for this capability

Key words

Connected, water