Curriculum links

Learning area


Which strands will it fit with?

Living World: Physical World: Planet Earth and Beyond.

Key competencies

Thinking: students will develop their understanding of geology, and the flora and fauna of New Zealand and the world.

Participating and contributing: students will participate in activities that investigate sustainability and how their individual choices and actions impact on the environment.

Levels of achievement

Levels 14

Year groups

Years 18

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Which topics of study can it support?

New Zealand natural environment
Earth science

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How long might this take?

Allow 30 minutes. 

Where do I find it?

Level 2, at the end of Mountains to Sea. If you get lost, just ask a Te Papa Host 

Why should I take my class to visit this?

  •  One of four Discovery Centres at Te Papa, NatureSpace is a lively, bright interactive area featuring objects, stories, and concepts about science and natural history.
  • It's a fun place to learn about the natural environment.
  • A Te Papa staff member is assigned to show you around and help.
  • NatureSpace provides reference books and magazines about the natural environment. 
  • The whole class can fit easily fit into the space.

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What is there to do there?

  • Explore ‘Spice of life’ and see some of the world's wonderful wildlife. Open drawers containing rock pool creatures and insects  you can look at some under video microscopes and handle them.
  • Examine Wonderboxes. One of the themes in NatureSpace is collecting, and the Wonderboxes showcases the amazing and diverse objects that people have collected from the natural environment.
  • Investigate life cycles in ‘Growing up’. Open drawers to see different creatures and their eggs, and understand more about their life cycles and homes.
  • Explore a timeline of life on Earth in ‘Life's long story’, and look at how it's changed over millions of years.
  • View ‘Primates our mates’ to see the evolution of humans from primates. Compare your footprint with that of 'Lucy'.
  • Investigate 'Big Foot – O Waewae Rarahi'. which show how you can reduce your ecological footprint.  There are three interactives that highlight every day ways to help the environment  from food packaging to saving electricity and recycling. 
  • Explore ‘Every rock tells a story’ and see how different rocks are formed. Touch sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rocks. Try lifting a huge pumice rock! 
  • Play educational interactives on the computers and explore educational websites looking at the natural environment in New Zealand and elsewhere. 
  • Play games, read books, and do puzzles related to the natural environment.

What should I know about this?

  • NatureSpace focuses on the natural environment.
  • NatureSpace is a lively, bright place with plenty of hands-on exhibits and activity spaces and there is plenty for adults to do too!
  • NatureSpace provides access to websites and computer programs. This centre also offers reference books and magazines associated with the natural environment.
  • NatureSpace is located on Level 2 at the end of Mountains to Sea.

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Possible topics for discussion

Spice of Life
  • Why do some animals have internal skeletons for support while others have external skeletons that support, protect, and camouflage them? You can also discuss New Zealand’s native species and the different species that have been introduced. Can they affect each other?
  • Why do people make collections? If you made a collection, what would you collect?
Life's long story
  • Discuss the changes the physical world has been through. Ask students if they can identify different times when major changes took place, such as the death of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Which creatures existing at that time are still found today (such as insects)? Discuss the extinctions and the possible reasons for it, such as a meteorite hitting the Earth’s surface, disease, or lack of food.
Primates  our mates
  • Discuss the evolution of humans from primates. If we undergo further evolutionary changes, what are we going to change into? Draw pictures of what we might look like.
Every rock tells a story
  • Ask students if they can identify the three different types of rocks (igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic) and where they can find such rocks as basalt, sandstone, and greenstone. What is their favourite rock and how is it formed?
  • Find the Dodo. Why did it become extinct so quickly?

Big Foot

Big Foot
  • Discuss energy saving techniques. Over a long period of time 'eco' bulbs save electricity and energy how? 
  • Why recycle? Examine the decomposition wall to identify which items decompose the slowest and the quickest. What can the waste be recycled into?

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Related material

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