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Air around us Capability: Use evidence NoS achievement aims: Investigating in science Contextual strands: Material world Level : 1,2,3,4

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

This resource illustrates how an activity from Building Science Concepts can be adapted to provide opportunities for students to strengthen their capability to use evidence to support ideas 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.

L3 & 4:

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

The Material World strand


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Properties and changes of matter

Investigate the properties of materials.

L1 & 2:

Observe, describe, and compare physical and chemical properties of common materials…

Chemistry & society

Make connections between the concepts of chemistry and their applications and show an understanding of the role chemistry plays in the world around them.

L1 & 2:

Find out about the uses of common materials and relate these to their observed properties.

L3 & 4:

Relate the observed characteristic chemical and physical properties of a range of different materials to technological uses and natural processes.

Learning focus

Students use evidence to support their ideas about air.

Learning activity

This booklet provides a range of “hands on” activities where students explore the properties of air.

Adapting the resource

To highlight the importance of supporting ideas with evidence, at the end of the series of activities, ask the students to provide evidence that supports various statements about air. For example:

  • Scientists say that air is all around us. Which of the activities we have done provide evidence that supports that idea? [Activity 1, page 8.]
  • Scientists say that air can move. Which of the activities we have done provide evidence that supports that idea? [Activity 2, page 9.]
  • Scientists say that air held in a space can create an invisible push. Which of the activities we have done provide evidence that supports that idea? [Activity 2, page 10.]

Alternatively after each activity students could be asked which idea from a list of ideas about air is supported by evidence from that particular activity. (The Building Science Concepts booklets directly link the individual activities to the concepts they are designed to develop.)

What’s important here?

Science is a way of explaining the world. In science explanations need to be supported by evidence that is based on, or derived from, observations of 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’s your evidence?” and “How do you know?”:

  • Do students describe activities that support the statements given?
  • Do they realise which evidence is relevant to a particular explanation?

Opportunities to learn at different curriculum levels

For suggestions about adapting tasks in ways that allow students to show progress in using evidence to support ideas see Progressions .

Exploring further

This strategy could be applied to any investigations. As well as checking whether students can provide relevant data to support an explanation, this strategy also lets you check whether students are making the links between the activities and the concepts you are trying to develop.

Other resources for this capability

Key words

Building Science Concepts, air