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  • Rainbow Clouds

    Refraction and diffraction of light through ice crystals in the clouds

  • Philippa On The Ice

    Philippa On The Ice Philippa Werry at an Antarctic research camp 2016

New Zealand Science Teacher

Science Curriculum/Scientific Literacy

Links to lunchboxes: new resource explore the story of food

To be launched tomorrow at ULearn, a free science resource for primary and intermediate learners called The story of where our food comes from aims to tell the story of where our food comes from, and the importance to New Zealand of our primary sector.  

The story of where our food comes fromThe resource has been funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund; several prominent primary industry private and public organisations (including Ravensdown, Federated Farmers, and NZ Young Farmers) and Core Education.

Three interlinked concepts are explored within the resource: ‘plants are the earth’s engine’ aimed at Year 5-6 students; ‘Our food garden’ for Year 6-7 students; and ‘the chain in my lunchbox’ for Year 7-8 students.

The online teaching tool aims to help teachers explore scientific thinking with their learners, and is integrated with The New Zealand Curriculum. The organisation behind the resource, Soil, Food and Society say also that the resource helps to encourage students to put down their digital devices and get out into the fresh air, something that both teachers and parents should be enthusiastic about.

The resource is designed to specifically connect with the Nature of Science, by the use of investigation, interpretation, and the communication of findings and hypotheses. The Science Capabilities are also integrated.

All three age-level resources approach their topic by starting with ‘big ideas’, and drawing out the scientific concepts within.  

Plants are earth’s engine/He tipu te mihini o te ao (Yr 5-6):

Key messages in this resource are:

  • Plants are the source of all food on Earth.

  • The nutrients that we eat in our food are the same nutrients in the air and soil.

Suggested inquiry topics include: ‘what do plants need to live?’, and ‘what is the nutrient cycle?’

One of the big ideas that the resource explores is the concept that plants use sunlight to make non-living things (sun, water, air, nutrients) into living things (fruit and vegetables). This is a great way to introduce for kids such scientific concepts as the fact that all plants need sunlight, water, air and nutrients to grow; that the nutrients present in food are the same nutrients as those in non-living things; and that decomposition is the process by which organic material is broken down into it’s elements.

The project’s science expert, Dr. Tessa Mills of AgResearch, says of the motivation behind the creation of The story of where our food comes from:

“Young people’s understanding of the linkages between soils, food production and the wellbeing of society has been lost in our 21st century urban society. Many kids don’t know or appreciate how food is produced, or perhaps more importantly, how society can future-proof the productive capacity of our soils to ensure sustainable food production. Soil Food and Society provides students with this understanding.”

The first version of the resource will be launched at the Core Education exhibition stand at New Zealand’s largest educational symposium, the ULearn Conference, on Thursday 6th October 2016 in Rotorua. Users of the tool are invited to submit feedback, which will be used to develop a second and final version – due for launch in October 2017.

Go here to check out the Soil, Food and Society resource, and here to register your interest.

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