Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

You are here:

Building Science Concepts

Building Science Concepts is a series of 64 booklets for levels 1 to 4 of the curriculum. Each booklet is based around a theme and includes science information for teachers supported by a sequenced series of classroom activities.

Bikes Levers Friction and Motion

Building Science Concepts: Titles and concept overviews  contains a table of all the books in the series which you can search by book title, book number, contextual strand, and curriculum level.

Each title has an associated concept overview in PDF format.

Learn more

About the Building Science Concepts series

The books provide a structured approach to the teaching of science concepts. They build students' understanding from simple to more complex scientific ideas, relating them to students' existing understandings of the world around them.

The books:

  • have activities that support students' understanding of specific science concepts (adapt these to suit your learners)
  • include activities from other resources that help develop the selected concepts
  • provide diagnostic activities so you can find out what your students already know
  • include science notes which help you:
    • refresh your scientific understanding of the topic
    • gain awareness of potential misconceptions your students may bring to the topic
  • allow you to make informed decisions about how far to progress through the concept overview.

Pedagogical features of the Building Science Concepts series

The pedagogical ideas behind the series are based on research into how children learn. The series is designed to help teachers in primary schools build students' understanding of science concepts in steps.

Each book in the series focuses on a topic and presents a set of concepts about the topic. These link to each other and build concept by concept towards a major concept - a "big idea".

Teaching science concepts in familiar contexts 

  • Students can build their understanding when the context(s) of learning are familiar and meaningful.
  • Some contexts are more helpful than others in challenging and building conceptual thinking in different areas of science.
  • Contexts have been chosen to reflect traditional "favourites" as well as to suggest new possibilities for learning in primary science.

Explicit patterning of how to keep a clear science-conceptual focus while exploring a familiar context. 

  • Concepts within a context are clearly identified so that it is possible to keep a sharp focus on the planned learning.
  • By indicating possible steps for conceptual learning within a topic, the booklets show how students can build their experiences of the world to accommodate increasingly abstract and/or interconnected ideas.

Signalling possible ideas that students might bring to their science learning.

  • Science education research shows that school learning may have no impact on students' personal theories about the world unless these are acknowledged and used as a starting point on which to build.
  • Activities in the series draw on research to anticipate students' likely personal theories.
  • A "what you look for" guide assists teachers to draw out and use students' thinking in their teaching.

Using the series to teach the Nature of Science

Kick-Starting the Nature of Science  (NZCER)

This resource provides ideas on using the Building Science Concepts series to teach the Nature of Science.

 Assessment using the ARBs

NZCER | Building science concepts

The Building Science Concepts books are listed on the Assessment Resource Banks (ARBs) website with assessments for each "Big idea".

Building Science Concept books - additional copies to order

Many of these titles are still available from Down the Back of the Chair (Ministry of Education online catalogue). Please see the list below for available titles.

Availability is subject to change at any time. Use the MOE reference as the search term in the catalogue.

List of available Building Science Concepts books

Book number Title MOE reference
3 Birds: Structure, Function, and Adaptation MOE12620
5 Fur, Feathers, and Bark: Animal and Plant Coverings MOE12622
9 Shadows: Effects of the Absence of Light MOE12626
11 Seeing Colours: The Spectrum, the Eye, and the Brain MOE12628
13 Aluminium: Extracting and Using the Metal MOE12630
16  Sand, Salt, and Jelly Crystals: Melting and Mixing Materials MOE12633
17 Flight: Control in the Air MOE12633
20 Our Star, the Sun: Life and Time in a Solar System MOE12637
21 Life between the Tides: Sandy Shores, Mudflats, and Rocky Shores MOE12638
22 Tidal Communities: Interdependence and the Effects of Change MOE12639
23 Fresh Food: How Food Keeps and Loses Its Freshness MOE12640
24 Preserving Food: Processes in Food Storage MOE12642
25  Flowers, Fruits, and Seeds: Plants and Their Reproductive Parts MOE12642
26 Making New Plants: How Flowering Plants Reproduce MOE12643
27 Exploring Space: Discovering Our Place in the Universe MOE12644
28 The Night Sky: Patterns, Observations, and Traditions MOE12645
29 Solar Energy: Sun Power on Earth MOE12646
30 The Air around Us: Exploring the Substance we Live in MOE12647
31 Water and Weather: The Water Cycle and the Atmosphere MOE12648
32 Introducing Metals: The Properties and Uses of Common Metals MOE12649
33 Working with Metals: The Origins and Applications of Common Metals MOE12650
34 Parachutes: Floating and Falling in Air MOE12651
35 Is This a Plant?: Introducing the Plant Kingdom MOE12652
36 Heat on the Move: Transferring Heat Energy through Temperature Difference MOE12653
37 Floating and Sinking: How Objects Behave in Water MOE12654
38 Understanding Buoyancy: Why Objects Float or Sink MOE12655
39 Is This an Animal?: Introducing the Animal Kingdom MOE12656
40 Earthquakes: Feeling the Earth Move MOE12657
41 Fossils: Digging up the Past MOE12658
42 Marbles: Exploring Motion and Forces MOE12659
43 Spring: Observing Seasonal Changes MOE12660
44  Spring Is a Season: How Living Things Respond to Seasonal Changes MOE12661
45 Slugs and Snails: Investigating Small Animals MOE12662
46 Keeping Warm: Getting Heat Energy and Keeping It MOE12663
47 Insulation: Keeping Heat Energy In MOE12664
48 Fabrics: Origins, Properties, and Uses MOE12665
49 Invisible Forces: Magnetism and Static Electricity MOE12666
50 Storms: Extreme Weather MOE12667
51 Standing Up: Skeletons and Frameworks MOE12668
52 The Land Changes: Keeping Earth's Systems in Balance to Sustain Life MOE12669
53 Moulds Are Fungi: Structure, Function, and Interrelationships MOE12670
54 Windmills and Waterwheels: Harnessing the Energy of Wind and Water MOE12671
55 Mammals: Investigating a Group of Animals MOE12672
56 Bread: The Chemistry of Breadmaking MOE12673
57 Eggs: Mixing, Beating, Crushing, and Heating MOE12674
58 Ice: Melting and Freezing MOE12675
59 Bikes: Levers, Friction, and Motion MOE12676
60 Rubbish: How Do We Deal with It? MOE12677
61 Recycling: New Uses for Rubbish MOE12678
62 Spiders Everywhere!: Silk-spinning Carnivores in Our World MOE12679
63 Growing Plants Indoors: What an Indoor Plant Needs MOE12680
64 Candles: Investigating Combustion MOE12681