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The World of Ferns Capability: Interpret representations NoS achievement aims: Communicating in science Contextual strands: Living world Level : 3,4

Author: Rupert Alchin. Connected 3, 2002, pages 6–11.

This resource illustrates how a Connected journal 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.

L3 & 4:

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

NZC LINKS: Living World


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Life processes

Understand the processes of life and appreciate the diversity of living things.

L3 & 4:

Recognise that there are life processes common to all living things and that these occur indifferent ways.

Learning focus

Students explore how different illustrations serve different purposes.

Learning activity

This article contains photographs and diagrams of ferns.

Adapting the resource

This article could be used to strengthen students’ understandings of how different representations serve different purposes, by structuring a discussion around the illustrations.

  1. Look carefully at the two photographs on page 8.
    • What idea in the text do these photographs illustrate? [Ferns live in many different habitats.]
  2. Look at the 2 diagrams on page 9.
    • What do the diagrams show that the photographs don’t? [The diagram on the left shows how the roots and the leaves both grow out of the rhizome. The diagram on the right is a cross section showing the structure of the inside of the rhizome.]
    • Why do you think the author labelled the diagrams but not the photographs? [To draw attention to specific parts.]
  3. Look at the close up photograph of the underside of a fern leaf on page 11.
    • Why did the author choose to include this photograph? [To show the spores.]

What’s important here?

Scientists represent their ideas in a variety of ways, including models, graphs, photographs, charts, diagrams and written texts. It is important for students to think about what a particular representation tells us and what is left out. This sort of questioning provides a foundation to critically interact with ideas about science in the media and 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?

Can students compare and contrast different illustrations?

Can students suggest the author's purpose for selecting particular illustrations?

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

This activity could be done in any context. All that is required are articles containing a range of different types of illustrations.

Other resources for this capability

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

Seeds (L1 & 2) Connected 1, 1999

Light and Colour: Our Vision of the World (L1 & 2) Building Science Concepts, Booklet 10

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

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

Connected, plants