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Science and e-learning

There are three interconnecting purposes for using ICT in science education – to support students to:

  • work as scientists
  • work with scientists
  • work with one another to co-construct scientific knowledge and understanding.

e-in-science: Scoping the possibilities NZCER, 2012

Planning to use ICTs – questions to think about

  • How can we develop or expand partnerships and relationships between schools and the science community to support future-oriented science learning?
  • What kinds of learning do young people need in order to engage with science in the future?
  • Which aspects of current education practice are suited to students’ future needs, and which aspects need to be re-thought?

From: Digital technologies and future oriented science education: A discussion document

e-Learning tools supporting scientific inquiry

Posing inquiry questions

To support students with posing inquiry questions, use:

  • Google expeditions , allowing virtual reality tours that cover a huge range of science topics.
  • concept mapping tools for planning and collaboration
  • scientific videos or animations, explaining how things work, why they happen, or who was involved
  • Moodle forums – to facilitate class discussions and understanding of a topic
  • Tumble , a science podcast that shares the stories behind science discovery and explores how science works as a process.

Initiating investigations

To support students with initiating and experimenting, use:

  • mind mapping tools to look at the parts, processes, and ideas in an investigation. This is also a useful way to assess prior knowledge. Teachers can use the mind map as a starting point to teach concepts or processes that have not been understood.
  • video conferencing tools and instant messaging to connect with scientists locally or globally. You could set up a private social media group that allows for ongoing questioning and discussion, and the sharing of live videos, diagrams and photographs of the scientific investigation being carried out. This also means that communication can be shared between the students, the scientists and parents and the wider community.
  • digital tools for virtual investigations – complete virtual dissections , examine the interior of the human body , explore the periodic table  or build a rollercoaster .
  • Moodle-based discussion forums to explore and share ideas, and mobile devices to record experiments and identify possible relationships.

At Newmarket School, science has been a focus of professional development. Students talk about their process for understanding how electricity works. They explain the different technologies they used to support their learning.

Collecting and analysing data

To support students with accessing or publishing data online, collating, and interpreting data and information, useful digital tools include:

  • time lapse videos
  • temperature and pH probeware
  • digital microscopes
  • monitor detector probes
  • tracking systems
  • health monitors
  • gps.

In addition, digital photos can be used not just to record activities but also to provide visual evidence for new concepts, and help to bridge ideas with new vocabulary.

There are a great variety of citizen science projects where anyone of any age or ability can contribute to scientific data collection, usually with a digital device. The studies are often part of real-world scientific research, so cover a huge range of subjects. You could take part in the Kereru count of birds in your local neighbourhood. Or contribute to a global project, looking at the environment, with The GLOBE Program , solving molecular puzzles for Fold It , or classifying images from the Hubble Space Telescope in Galaxy Zoo . Many of these projects have developed complementary resources and tools to help support teachers and students, and make it easier to integrate contributing to a citizen science project into learning plans.

Reflecting on and communicating findings

The following suggestion are designed to communicate scientific findings but are also useful for assessment purposes.

When sharing, students can:

  • add QR codes to displays or science fair projects, linking viewers to supporting information
  • video an experiment, or create a digital model, and upload for comments and annotations
  • use an app to create diagrams to insert in digital stories, label a diagram or photo, or demonstrate a scientific model. 
  • curate ideas and information for a wider community audience, or digital exhibition.

Students from Newmarket School explain how they used iPads to video their electrical circuits and show how they worked.

This virtual lab will revolutionise science class

Michael Bodekaer wants to use virtual reality to make education more accessible. In this TED talk, he demonstrates an idea that could revolutionise the way we teach science in schools.


Children working

Digital connections for new learning opportunities

A teacher inquiry which utilised digital technologies for science.

Applying SOLO taxonomy

Applying SOLO taxonomy

Teacher, Virginia Kung talks about how she applied SOLO taxonomy to her science lessons.



Students explain about how they learnt about electricity.

Making bread

The science of bread

Teacher, Virginia Kung, explains why she chose to teach her students about the science of bread and how they got the community involved.

Students around a table doing a paint activity with the teacher

STEAM with new entrants

Deputy Principal, Te Aoterangi Moore, talks about a project on primary colours that he taught in science and how he worked with the e-learning coordinator to integrate that into all areas of the curriculum. Te Aoterangi also discusses the ways this project has benefited his students.  

Science experiment with milk being recorded on iPad

Improving learning outcomes using iPads

Teachers from Hillcrest Normal School explain how students used iPads to document and reflect on their learning in the context of a science inquiry into the properties of milk.

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Snapshots of learning

Kid Pix

Students at Sunnybrae Normal School used Kid Pix and iMovie to record and share experiences, ideas, and information during an inquiry about kiwi conservation.

Tags: English, Science, Multimedia – graphics/animation, Multimedia – video, Lower primary, Primary


Students at Ashburton Intermediate in Christchurch developed an understanding of subject specific vocabulary through the use of online flashcards.

Tags: Diverse learners, English, Science, Utilities/tools/gadgets, Primary, Upper primary

Raising student achievement

Polyfest provided Mangere College with the opportunity to re-think curriculum planning and design to improve student achievement results for NCEA.

Tags: English, Learning languages, Science, Social sciences, The Arts, Visual arts, Multimedia – graphics/animation, Multimedia – video, Secondary, Upper secondary

Muritai STEM

In 2015, Muritai School incorporated the idea of becoming a STEM school into their Towards 2020 vision.

Tags: Mathematics and statistics, Science, STEM/STEAM, Technology, Primary

STEAM at Taita College

At Taita College in Wellington's Lower Hutt, learning is authentic, future-focused, multidisciplinary, and culturally responsive.

Tags: Learning languages, Mathematics and statistics, Science, STEM/STEAM, Technology, The Arts, Tikanga Māori, Secondary

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Science Online
A site with resources, ideas, and examples of science teaching and concepts for both primary and secondary teachers of science.

Science learning hub
Easy to access, quality assured teaching resources to support school science learning.

A free online collection of virtual field trips to locations in New Zealand and Antarctica. The trips take an inquiry-based approach within science, social sciences, and the arts for both primary and secondary schools.

Promotes scientific, technological, and mathematical literacy so students can engage in a critical and informed manner with real-life science and technology related issues and authentic, and context-based mathematical explorations. 


Use DigitalNZ to discover millions of New Zealand items from the digital stores of libraries, museums, archives, communities, and government. 

Aqua Republica Eco Challenge

The game supports young New Zealanders to understand the complexities in water resource management and the intrinsic trade-offs involved when considering these resources. The game has a bird’s eye view of a water catchment, where the player acts as catchment manager and must apply system-wide approaches to integrated water resource management.

New Zealand Science Teacher
Information on everything about science and science education. 

Google Science Fair  

A global online science and technology competition open to students ages 13 to 18. Students can create a science project online by themselves or in a team.

Beautiful Chemistry

Beautiful Chemistry is a project collaboration between the Institute of Advanced Technology at the University of Science and Technology of China and Tsinghua University Press. The goal of this project is to bring the beauty of chemistry to the general public through digital media and technology.


This selection of digital curriculum resources from the National Digital Learning Resources Network is designed to assist teachers to find, use and adapt teaching and learning materials that are aligned to the science subject area of the Australian Curriculum.

Online labs   

Chemistry Labs – Includes general chemistry and organic chemistry

Physics Labs – Includes condensed matter and particle physics

Biology Labs – Includes microscopy, genetics, and life science

Anatomy Labs – Includes physiology and dissection

Geology Labs – Includes geosciences and earth science

Astronomy Labs – Includes space science

Design Labs – Includes 3D modeling and 2D graphics

e-Learning in science

A series of four research reports focusing on working with a group of schools to develop a best-practice, sustainable model for embedding e-learning in science education. One of the aims was to identify factors that enhance or constrain the incorporation of effective e-learning in science education.

Author: NZCER researchers

Science: a blended e-learning approach
A group for primary school teachers and students to share ideas, resources and strategies that motivate interest and participation in science, and making science relevant to everyday living in the Virtual Learning Network (VLN) .

Online community discussions

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