Science Expedition: New Zealand Teacher's Guide
New Zealand Home

Teacher's Guide
Science Expedition: New Zealand
Grade Levels: 3–8
 


Project Components
National Standards Correlations
Lesson Planning Suggestions
Extensions
Assessment

Resources & Web Links

Project Snapshot
In April and May 1998, biologist Colin Skinner trekked through the islands of New Zealand, leading Scholastic's "Science Expedition: New Zealand" Learning Adventure. Today, students participating in this project can read Colin's weekly field journals and explore the photos of the diverse geology, unusual wildlife, and rich cultures he encountered along the way. In addition, students can read transcripts of Colin's on-the-scene live interviews and trace his walking route on the interactive Trek Map. "Science Expedition: New Zealand" also links to Global Kid Connections, so students can learn firsthand about the everyday lives of kids from two schools in New Zealand.


Project Components
Interactive Trek Map (Grades 3–8)
This map traces the places Colin visited along his trek. Students can use this map to explore the background information about featured sites in New Zealand and the topics covered at each stop.

About New Zealand | Volcanoes | Maori People | Sea Life |
Earthquakes | Glaciers | Rainforest | Unique Wildlife | Endangered Species |

Learn About New Zealand (Grades 3–8)
In this section of the project, students can find background information about New Zealand and additional Web links for further research. Students will learn about the culture, history, geography, and climate of this fascinating place.

Keep Your Own Field Journal (Grades 3–8)
Student field journals are provided for each topic. Once students have read the background information on a topic as well as Colin's on-the-scene field journals, they can use the student field journal pages provided to record their observations and to keep track of questions and ideas for further research.

Kids' Interview With Colin Skinner (Grades 3–8)
Students can read online transcripts of Colin's three live interviews from New Zealand, now organized by topic.

Interviews With Science Experts (Grades 3–8)
Using questions written by students, Colin interviewed two science experts: biologist Dr. Scott Baker and Dr. Ann Graeme of the Royal Forest and Bird Society. Students can find Dr. Baker's transcript highlighting marine mammals in Colin's Sea Life field journal, and Dr. Graeme's interview transcript, which discusses the efforts by adults and children to preserve the kiwi bird, in Colin's Journal: Conservation of Endangered Species.

Meet Kids in New Zealand (Grades 3–8)
As our special guests in Global Kid Connections, two New Zealand schools share stories about what it's like to live in this unique country.

^ Top of Page


National Standards Correlations
Students who participate in "Science Expedition: New Zealand" will have access to a fascinating and uniquely diverse ecosystem. Through biologist Colin Skinner, an expert in the field, students gain a deeper understanding of life and physical science concepts covered in the classroom. Students will also gain an appreciation and understanding of the rich Maori culture in New Zealand.

Science | Social Studies | Language Arts | Math

"Science Expedition: New Zealand" helps students meet the following standards as set forth by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science (NRC/NAS).

Students learn that:

  • Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water, and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light.
  • Organisms can survive only in environments in which their needs can be met.
  • Each plant or animal has different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction.
  • An organism's patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism's environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment.
  • All organisms cause changes in the environment where they live. Some of these changes are detrimental to the organism or other organisms, whereas others are beneficial.
  • Humans depend on their natural and constructed environments. Humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental for themselves and other organisms.
  • The surface of the earth changes. Some changes are due to slow processes, such as erosion and weathering, and some changes are due to rapid processes, such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.
  • Resources are things that we get from the living and nonliving environment to meet the needs and wants of a population.
  • Some resources are basic materials, such as air, water, and soil; some are produced from basic resources, such as food, fuel, and building materials; and some resources are nonmaterial, such as quiet places, beauty, security, and safety.
  • The supply of many resources is limited. If used, resources can be extended through recycling and decreased use.
  • Changes in environments can be natural or influenced by humans.
  • Some environmental changes occur slowly, and others occur rapidly.
In addition, these science standards are more specifically tailored for students in grades 5–8:
  • All organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce, and maintain stable internal conditions while living in a constantly changing external environment.
  • An organism's behavior evolves through adaptation to its environment. How a species moves, obtains food, reproduces, and responds to danger are based in the species' evolutionary history.
  • The number of organisms an ecosystem can support depends on the resources available and abiotic factors, such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition.
  • Millions of species of animals, plants, and micro-organisms are alive today.
  • Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations.
  • Biological adaptations include changes in structures, behaviors, or physiology that enhance survival and reproductive success in a particular environment.
  • Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival. Fossils indicate that many organisms that lived long ago are extinct. Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist today.
  • Landforms are the result of a combination of constructive and destructive forces. Constructive forces include crystal deformation, volcanic eruption, and deposition of sediment, while destructive forces include weathering and erosion.
  • Some changes in the solid earth can be described as the "rock cycle." Old rocks at the earth's surface weather, forming sediments that are buried, then compacted, heated, and often recrystallized into new rock. Eventually, those new rocks may be brought to the surface by the forces that drive plate motions, and the rock cycle continues.
In addition, "Science Expedition: New Zealand" helps students meet the following national standards as set forth by the National Council of Social Studies (NCSS).

Social studies programs should include:

  • experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity.
  • experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.
  • experiences that provide for the study of global connections and interdependence.
"Science Expedition: New Zealand" helps students meet the following standards for English/Language Arts as set forth by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and the International Reading Association (IRA).
  • Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts.
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences.
  • Students use spoken and written visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g. for learning, enjoyment, persuasion and the exchange of information).
Finally, "Science Expedition: New Zealand" helps students meet the following standards as set forth by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).
  • Measurement (Students make and use measurements in problems and everyday situations.)
  • Whole-number Computation (Students select estimation and computation techniques appropriate to specific problems.)

^ Top of Page


Lesson Planning Suggestions

"Science Expedition: New Zealand" spans nine weeks. Each week, a new topic relating to Colin's journey is featured. The project can be explored in its entirety as a multi-disciplinary unit or teachers may choose to use only those resources specific to their curriculum needs. In order for students to fully explore the wide range of online activities, it would be best to schedule classroom computer time at least once a week.

Week One: Learn About New Zealand

  • Have students get acquainted with "Science Expedition: New Zealand" via the interactive Trek Map, which shows the route Colin Skinner walked and the topics he covered along the way.
  • Ask students to read Learn About New Zealand.
  • Suggest that students get to know Colin Skinner by reading his brief biography, Who Is Colin Skinner?
  • Explain to students that scientists often record their observations in a field journal while conducting research in a natural setting. Let kids know that in addition to reading Colin's field journals from the science expedition, they'll be keeping their own journals about the places they "visit" in New Zealand. Print out and distribute Keep Your Own Field Journal to introduce them to this part of the project. (Younger students may prefer to put sketches in their journals instead of the prepared field journal pages.) Encourage students to create their own New Zealand Field Journal by utilizing a three-ring notebook. Ask them to design a cover for their journal; they could use the Trek Map or create a collage of images of New Zealand's geography, wildlife, and cultures.
  • Gather resources for your classroom from the New Zealand Resources list.
Week Two: Volcanoes
  • Instruct students to read about Colin's visit to Rotorua and the Mount Ruapehu volcano in Colin's Journal: Volcanoes. If they haven't done so already, have students read the background information about these places.
  • Print out and distribute the student field journal page My New Zealand Field Journal: Volcanoes. Point out to students that this is their opportunity to record what they've learned, express their thoughts, and keep a list of questions and answers they research. Once they have completed their field journal page about the weekly topic, have students add it to their field journal notebook.
  • Have students read Colin's Volcanoes interview transcript. Were any of their volcano questions answered in the interview? Remind students to add any new information to their Field Journal pages.
  • Students should begin exploring Web links and your classroom collection of resources. Encourage students to research the questions they have compiled in their field journals.
Week Three: Maori People
Week Four: Sea Life
  • Instruct students to read Colin's Journal: Sea Life. If they haven't done so already, have students read the background information available online.
  • Print out and distribute the student field journal page My New Zealand Field Journal: Sea Life. On this page, have students record what they've learned, express their thoughts, and keep a list of questions and answers they research.
  • Have students read Colin's Animals interview transcript. At this point, students might also like to read Colin's Life Along the Trek interview transcript.
  • Students should continue exploring Web links and your classroom collection of resources. Encourage students to use these resources to research the questions they have in their field journals.
Week Five: Earthquakes
  • Instruct students to read Colin's Journal: Earthquakes. If they haven't done so already, have them read the background information available online.
  • Print out and distribute the student field journal page My New Zealand Field Journal: Earthquakes. On this page, have students record what they've learned, express their thoughts, and keep a list of questions and answers they research.
  • Have students read Colin's Earthquakes and Weather and Seasons interview transcripts and continue to update their field journals.
  • At this point, encourage small groups of students to share their field journals. Allow class time for students to present any extension activities they have completed.
Week Six: Glaciers
  • Instruct students to read Colin's Journal: Glaciers. If they haven't done so already, have students read the background information available online.
  • Print out and distribute the student field journal page My New Zealand Field Journal: Glaciers. On this page, have students record what they've learned, express their thoughts, and keep a list of questions and answers they research.
  • Have students read Colin's Glaciers interview transcript and continue to update their journals.
Week Seven: Rainforests
  • Instruct students to read Colin's Journal: Rainforest. If they haven't done so already, have students read the background information available online.
  • Print out and distribute the student field journal page My New Zealand Field Journal: Rainforests. On this page, have students record what they've learned, express their thoughts and keep a list of questions and answers they research.
  • Have students read Colin's Rainforests interview transcript and continue to update their journals.
  • Students should continue exploring Web links and your classroom collection of resources. Encourage students to use these resources to research the questions they have compiled in their field journals.
Week Eight: Unique Wildlife
Week Nine: Conserving Endangered Species
  • Instruct students to read Colin's Journal: Endangered Species. If they haven't done so already, have students read the background information available online.
  • Print out and distribute the student field journal page My New Zealand Field Journal: Conserving Endangered Species. On this page, have them record what they've learned, express their thoughts, and keep a list of questions and answers they research. Once they have completed their field journal page about the weekly topic, have students add it to their final field journal notebook.
  • Have students read Colin's Personal and Looking Back on the Journey interview transcripts.
  • To close "Science Expedition: New Zealand," encourage small groups of students to share their field journals with each other. Allow class time for students to present any extension activities they have completed. Invite students to take their New Zealand Field journals home to share with their parents.
^ Top of Page

Transcripts

The transcripts of the live interviews with Colin Skinner can be useful tools for teaching additional science concepts about New Zealand. To enhance your students' use of transcripts, keep the following suggestions in mind.

Encourage students to evaluate the questions as well as the answers. Was there any important or relevant information that was not discussed? Ask students if their perceptions of New Zealand or of the science topics changed after reading the transcript. Did the guest expert reveal any surprising information about New Zealand?

^ Top of Page


Extensions
For additional skill assessment opportunities, try these teaching extensions, which can be adapted for all grade levels.

Math Connections

  • On the Trek Map, use the scale of miles to approximate the distances between each stop along Colin's walk.
  • Calculate the distances between your classroom and the islands of New Zealand.
  • Analyze the various distances between New Zealand and other Pacific Islands such as Hawaii, the Solomon Islands, and Fiji.
Language Arts Connections
  • Write a travel brochure about the volcano site at Rotorua.
  • Turn your Field Journals into collaborative multimedia presentations.
  • Collect Maori myths and legends and ask small groups of students to illustrate or act out the stories for the rest of the class.
  • Write a series of postcards from each location on the Trek Map.
  • Write a fictitious newspaper article about a volcanic eruption or major earthquake.
Social Studies Connections
  • Identify landforms, learn map directions, and mark progressive distances on the islands of New Zealand.
  • Research and report on the history and traditions of the Maori people.
  • Learn the history of European settlers of New Zealand.
  • Create a time line of historic events in New Zealand.
  • Highlight on a map of the United States the locations of active volcanoes and areas where earthquakes occur.
  • Examine the similarities and differences between American and Kiwi students.
  • Identify and pinpoint the latitude and longitude of key areas (such as Haast Rainforest or Earthquake Flats) connected to this Science Expedition.
Science Connections
  • Make a poster of the animals that are unique to New Zealand, highlighting any animals that are endangered.
  • Compare and contrast New Zealand's rainforest habitat with the Amazon rainforest habitat.
  • Diagram a food chain from plankton to a large marine mammal, such as a whale or seal.
  • Report about the different weather and climatic conditions on the islands of New Zealand.
  • Create a poster that diagrams the different levels of a rainforest and what kinds of plants and animals can be found at each level.
  • Compare the birds that live in New Zealand with the ones that live near your school.
These additional suggestions are tailored to specific grade levels:

Grades 1–2 (Social Studies, Language Arts, Science)

  • Learn a traditional Maori song or dance and perform it with your class.
  • Research traditional Maori art and carvings and create a picture that uses some of the same patterns.
  • Create your own Trek Map with illustrations to display what kinds of plants, animals, or geological features can be found at each location.
Grades 3–5 (Social Studies, Language Arts, Science)
  • Find out more about the geological feature known as a fjord. Where else on earth can they be found? What are the characteristics of this special habitat?
  • Research local conservation groups in your area. Write or e-mail these organizations for more information about how students can become involved in protecting endangered species.
  • Make a diagram that shows the different sea depths around the islands of New Zealand. Students should also label undersea features such as reefs and the continental shelf.
  • Discover more about undersea volcanic vents and report about the ocean life that lives near them.
  • Explain why the Maori people once called New Zealand "Aotearoa," or the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Grades 6–8 (Social Studies, Language Arts, Science)
  • Discover how different wildlife conservation issues, such as respect for wildlife vs. population growth, compare in New Zealand and in the United States.
  • Use the Internet to find local news reports from Auckland or another city in New Zealand; compare the current issues or events with those in your town.
  • Learn more about volcanoes or glaciers and make a scale model of the geological event.
  • The tuatara is a rare lizard that is a direct descendant of the dinosaur. Research more about this fascinating animal and report on how the tuatara compares with dinosaurs and how it compares with other present-day lizards.
  • Draw a picture of the constellations that are visible in the night sky over New Zealand. Make sure students label the brightest stars. Encourage further research about how the early Pacific Islanders used stars to navigate from island to island.
  • Discover more about magma and tectonic plates. Through a report, diagram, or poster, explain what the geological dynamics are of the two major islands of New Zealand. Also explain how the islands were once connected to the South American continent, but now can be found off the continent of Australia.
  • Find out more about the uniqueness of an isolated habitat such as New Zealand. Another such habitat is the island of Madagascar, which can be found off the east coast of Africa. In what ways does this isolated habitat compare with New Zealand?
  • Report on the sperm whales that feed close to shore in Kaikoura. Explain why the whales come to that particular place to feed.

^ Top of Page


Assessment
A number of formal and informal opportunities to assess student learning are built into "Science Expedition: New Zealand." Teachers could evaluate:
  • comprehension and oral discussion of Colin's online field journals.
  • expression, communication, writing, research and critical-thinking skills as demonstrated in students' own field journals.
  • spatial and map-reading skills as demonstrated by students' use of the interactive Trek Map.
  • comprehension of important earth and life science concepts such as glaciers, volcanoes, earthquakes, rainforests, and unique wildlife.
  • understanding of world geography and culture, enhanced by learning about students who live in New Zealand.
  • awareness of endangered species and conservation efforts in New Zealand.
  • appreciation and understanding of the rich Maori culture.
^ Top of Page

New Zealand Home | Trek Map | Keep Your Own Field Journal | Meet the Biologist | Meet Kids in New Zealand | Teacher's Guide