Pipiri pānui / June newsletter

Email Science Communicators Mike Stone and Jenny Rankine with your feedback and suggestions.
ISSN 2703-5166



Using Mātauranga Māori to sample kōura

In another of our series on combining Mātauranga Māori and Western science, Johnny Fraser of Nelson College explains how students used bundles of whakaweku (bracken) and whitebait nets to sample kōura (freshwater crayfish). Download this publicly-available resource.

Teaching genetics without Punnett squares

One teacher explains how to introduce students to traits that are influenced by more than one gene, to understanding the role of proteins, and using the concept of risk rather than causation. Download this members-only resource.


ESSENZ is running free all-day PLD workshops in three centres in June and July, with financial assistance available for rural and isolated teachers and those new to Earth and Space Science. They run in New Plymouth on Friday June 25; Christchurch on Friday July 2; and Hamilton on Thursday July 8. To register or apply for financial assistance email Jenny Pollock, stating which workshop you want to register or get assistance for.

Contribute to the Primary Science Conference

The NZ Association of Primary Science Educators (NZAPSE) seeks teachers to share their classroom science approaches at their one-day conference on Teaching Primary Science on October 2 in Auckland. See the call for presenters here; the deadline is Sunday July 25. Conference speakers are Dr Sally Carson from the NZ Marine Studies Centre and Lorraine Spiller from NZCER. The day focuses on developing science capabilities, incorporating Mātauranga Māori into teaching programmes, and navigating Health and Safety Guidelines for events outside the classroom. Register here by September 3; PPTA members can apply for costs here.

NZIP and Physikos Conference

The New Zealand Institute of Physics will host this forum on 12-14 July in Wellington, including over 100 workshops, talks and poster presentations covering the latest physics research and teaching methods. Speakers include Professor Cather Simpson, Dr Craig Rofe, Associate Professor Ben Ruck, Dr Michele Bannister, Dr Tim Haskell and Dr Michael Johnston. Register here.

Using animals in science 

If you or your students are planning projects involving animals, including science fair entries, you first need ethics approval from the NZASE’s Schools’ Animal Ethics Committee. Get your applications in for their meetings on July 28 or August 23. Put their new poster (left) about how the approval process works on your wall, and email the committee with any questions.

2021 Garden Bird Survey

The popular New Zealand Garden Bird Survey from June 26 - July 4 can be done as a class activity or at home. It can be built into the curriculum through animal classification, population studies, hypothesis testing, data gathering, data analysis and report writing, and can contribute to a Science Badge, the Duke of Edinburgh award and Science Fair entries. Students can also earn a DOC Kiwi Guardian medal  for completing the survey.


The Matariki/Pleiades star cluster rises annually during June/July, depending on how far north or south you are, and signifies the Māori new year (image is from Te Wai Pouamu). For iwi in Taranaki, Whanganui, and the west coast of Te Waipounamu, where Matariki is harder to see, the new year begins with the rising of the brighter star Puanga. Some iwi mark the new year on the first full moon after Matariki rises, or on the next new moon. Join Professor Rangi Matāmua's free online seminar, Matariki Te Whetū o te Tau, on June 29; see teaching resources from Te Papa; learn about the nine stars in the cluster; download articles and other resources from the Science Learning Hub; and print resources from twinkl.

Ngā Kete Mātauranga - Māori researchers

Ask your library for this book edited by Jacinta Ruru and Linda Waimarie Nikora, with stories from 24 Māori academics about how Mātauranga Māori is positively influencing Western-dominated knowledge disciplines. It provides a portal into te ao Māori for those wanting to know more about Māori world views.

Squawk Squad primary resources

Conservation group Squawk Squad's teacher resources are now publicly available although the group has closed down. They include an 8-week environmental education programme exploring Antarctica and Climate Change, as well as multiple Conservation Week programmes with resources and lesson plans from 2017 - 2019. 

NZ International Science Festival

This annual festival from July 8-18 in Dunedin includes more than 100 events for all ages - search here. Online sessions including a free, pre-festival zoom session with environmental geneticist Professor Neil Gemmell (who searched Loch Ness for the monster’s DNA without success) on June 23, and a free, virtual dive off the Otago coastline with a livestream from the NZ Marine Studies Centre’s Remote Operated Vehicle on Tuesday July 13.  Dunedin students can also see their Year 13 peers present six short talks, short films, museum displays and podcasts about science on July 16.

Fight for the wild videos

Fight for the wild is a four-part video (45m) and podcast (25m) series exploring the goal of a Predator Free 2050 in Aotearoa. It examines the devastating impact of introduced mammals on our wildlife; what it will take to rid our country of rats, stoats and possums by 2050; what communities and researchers are doing; and the breakthrough technologies and innovations taking us towards that goal. Find your local Predator Free groups here.

Survey on primary school greenspaces 

MSc student Abigail Cunninghame is keen to hear from primary teachers about the ecological condition and uses of their school’s greenspaces, which are becoming more vital for a connection with nature in urban areas. Abigail aims to help use these spaces to benefit students, staff and the wider community. Take the ~15m online survey with a chance at three $50 prezzy cards. Email her or see the research webpage.


Reef Alive at Te Puke Ariki

Reef Alive! is a new exhibition space in the Taranaki Naturally Gallery in New Plymouth, available for all year levels. It focuses on a reef off the South Taranaki coast, where marine scientists have been investigating the busy underwater environment. Visitors can sail out to the reef without leaving the shore to meet its fascinating inhabitants. Book classes here

MOTAT Love / Science exhibition

From July 9, MOTAT’s new exhibition uses digital, hands-on activities, and film to explore innovation in Aotearoa, highlighting the science behind Antarctic adventures, harakeke surfboards, the humble cup of tea, medical milestones and more. MOTAT’s educators can customise programmes to fit your classes; click to email them.

Events related to Science teaching

See our events listing for upcoming events and activities by NZASE networks.
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