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Solar energy: Sun power on earth Capability: Use evidence NoS achievement aims: Investigating in science Contextual strands: Planet Earth and beyond Level : 2,3,4

Solar energy: Sun Power on Earth. Building Science Concepts, Booklet 29

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.

Communicating in science

Develop knowledge of the vocabulary, numeric and symbolic systems, and conventions of science and use this knowledge to communicate about their own and others’ ideas.

L1 & 2:

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

L3 & 4:

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

Planet Earth and Beyond 


Achievement objectives relevant to this resource

Astronomical systems

Investigate and understand relationships between Earth, Moon, Sun, solar system, and other systems in the universe.

L1 & 2:

Share ideas and observations about the Sun and the Moon and their physical effects on the heat and light available to Earth.

L3 & 4:

Investigate the components of the solar system developing an appreciation of the distances between them.

Learning focus

Students use evidence from graphs to support their ideas.

Learning activity

In Activity 2 on page 11 the children record the temperature at set times over several days. They then graph their results and the teacher encourages them to look for and explain any trends shown on the graphs.

Adapting the resource

This activity could easily be extended in two different ways to provide opportunities for students to strengthen their capability to use evidence to support ideas.

  1. To give the students practice in making meaning from the graphs ask them to write three statements that are supported by the data [Example: It was 20 degrees on Tuesday at 2pm.] and three statements that are not supported by the data. [Example: It was sunny on Tuesday afternoon.] Put each statement on a separate card.
  2. Ask the students to give their cards and graph to someone else and challenge them to work out which statements are supported by the data and which are not. The students talk to each other about how they made their decisions.
  3. As an extension you could hand out all the “true” statement cards to the class and get the children to match their cards to graphs that support the cards.
  4. To give students practice in using evidence to support their explanations when they are offering explanations for trends shown in their graphs, ask:
    • What makes you think so?
    • How could you check that explanation?
    • What other explanations might fit these data?

What’s important here?

Students cannot use data from graphs to support explanations if they cannot read the graph so it is important to check that they can do that. It is also important that students become aware that there could be more than one explanation for trends they see in the data. Sometimes it is important to suspend judgement until there is enough data.

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?

Can the children make meaning from the graphs?

Can they identify data that supports a claim? Are they aware that the same data could support different claims?

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 activity illustrates how mathematics and science can be meaningfully integrated. It could be adapted to a wide range of contexts. The Figure It Out booklets offer a range of ideas.

Other resources for this capability

Key words

Building Science Concepts, solar energy