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Weather Capability: Gather & Interpret data NoS achievement aims: Investigating in science Contextual strands: Planet Earth and beyond Level : 3,4

Making Better Sense of Planet Earth and Beyond, pages 63-90

This resource illustrates how some activities in Making Better Sense of Planet Earth and Beyond could 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.

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.

L3 & 4:

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


Planet Earth and Beyond


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Interacting systems

Investigate and understand that the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere are connected via a complex web of processes.

L3 & 4:

Investigate the water cycle and its effect on climate, landforms and life.

Learning focus

Students observe closely and make inferences based on their observations.

Learning activity

This chapter contains several activities where students make instruments to measure various aspects of weather, e.g., thermometers, rain gauges, anemometers. They also use these instruments to collect data about the weather.

Adapting the resource

In activity 6 (pages 74-75) students construct a barometer (to measure air pressure) and in activity 17 (page 84) students make a hygrometer (to measure humidity). Once the students have constructed these instruments encourage them to observe closely (over several days) for any changes in readings from these instruments and record the changes they observe. (Observable changes with these instruments will be slight so careful observation will be crucial).

Ask the students:

  • What changes do you see? (This is observation)
  • What do you think is causing the changes? (This is inference)

[The teachers’ notes for both instruments explain what is happening.]

If students are also collecting data about rainfall, cloud cover, temperature and wind speed they can look for correlations in data. For example:

  • Is there a relationship between wind speed and air pressure?
  • With the hygrometer, what is the difference in temperature shown on the two thermometers on a dry day? Is this the same on a wet day? Does this pattern always occur?

These activities will also highlight for students the importance of recording data in systematic ways so they can see patterns.

What’s important here?

What counts as evidence in science are observations (direct and indirect) of the natural physical world. Scientists put effort into ensuring they have robust data (i.e., that their observations are accurate).  This often involves measuring something.

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 accurate are their observations?

Can they read a measuring scale?

Can they see patterns in data?

Do students support their ideas with their observations?

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

Do they eliminate possibilities based on the evidence from their observations?

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 Learning at different curriculum levels.

Exploring further

The Assessment Resource Banks item  Recording the wind  provides an opportunity for students to explore the Beaufort scale of Wind Speed. There are also several Assessment Resource Banks items that assess students’ ability to read thermometers.

Other resources for this capability


Making Better Sense, weather