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Light and Colour: Our Vision of the World Capability: Interpret representations NoS achievement aims: Communicating in science Contextual strands: Physical world Level : 1,2

Building Science Concepts, Booklet 10

This resource illustrates how a Building Science Concepts activity can provide opportunities for students to strengthen their capability to make sense of representations in the context of science.

Curriculum Aims and AOs

NZC LINKS: The Nature of Science strand


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

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 other’s ideas.

L1 & 2:

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

NZC LINKS: Physical World


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Physical enquiry:

Explore and investigate physical phenomena.

L1 & 2:

Seek and describe simple patterns in physical phenomena.

Learning focus

Students communicate their developing science understandings through pictures and speech.

Learning activity

Section 4 of this booklet includes a summative assessment activity (Activity 3, page 22) that requires students to draw an explanatory picture to show how we can see a tree in the daytime.

Adapting the resource

Once the students have drawn their pictures get them to share them with the class (or in small groups) and explain what the pictures show. In the original activity the focus of this assessment activity is on content knowledge (e.g., do the students recognise that the sun is the source of light, do they realise light travels in straight lines?)

To highlight the capability of making sense of representations, focus on how students communicate their ideas. Consider both the pictures they draw and their explanations of what their pictures show.

What’s important here?

In science, illustrations are often used to communicate ideas. Understanding and using the literacy practices of science supports students to think in new ways and 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 their pictures attempt to represent ideas as well as things? (For example, do they use lines or arrows to show light travelling rather than just drawing a person and a tree?)

Are they beginning to use labels in their pictures?

When students talk about their pictures do they use words that show that one idea:

  • causes another (e.g., because, so that)
  • depends on another (e.g., if, unless)
  • acknowledges another(e.g., even if, even though)?

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  Progressions .

Exploring further

Several of the Building Science Concepts booklets at L1 & 2 ask students to draw pictures to communicate their ideas. In Making Porridge: Conducting Heat and Cooking Food (Booklet 14, Section 3, Activity 2, page 14)students draw simple flow charts showing how heat travels. In Where’s the Water? Water’s Forms and Changes in Form (Booklet 15, Section 2, Activity 2, pages 11–12) students draw pictures to explain what happens to water when it evaporates.

Several resources in the Assessment Resource Banks also require students to draw pictures to communicate their ideas about the Material World, e.g., Dissolving sugar , Amazing water , and The disappearing puddle .

For all these activities, focus attention on how students are representing their ideas.

Other resources for this capability

Watch Me! (L1) Ready to Read series 2009, Guided Reading level: yellow

Seeds (L1 & 2) Connected 1, 1999

Standing Up: Skeletons and Frameworks (L1 & 2) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 51

An Interview with a Glass of Water (L3 & 4) Connected 2, 2002

Ferns (L3 & 4) Connected 3, 2002

Why Does It Always Rain on Me? (L3 & 4) Connected, Level 3, 2012

Spring is a Season: How Living Things Respond to Seasonal Changes (L3 & 4) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 44

The Air around Us: Exploring the Substance We Live in (L4) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 30

Catch My Drift (L4 & 5) Connected, Level 4, 2012

Bioaccumulation interactive (L5) Science Learning Hub

The elements: element analyser interactive (L5) Digistore on TKI

Garden Bird Survey: Participants’ Stories (L5) Landcare Research webpage

The Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale (L5) GNS Science webpage

Key words

Building Science Concepts, light