The National Aquarium runs an extensive range of education programmes for early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary students. Via the tabs below you can find out more about our programmes, associated activities and worksheets, along with additional educational information relevant to the New Zealand Curriculum
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Who eats who out there in the ocean? Food webs are central to understanding how aquatic ecosystems work. Students examine marine food webs to develop an appreciation of the interactions between life forms beneath the surface. Using microscopes, your students will view the ocean's tiny organisms and discover how they are connected to the food webs of the world’s waters.
- Food Webs and Adaptations Worksheet
- Food Webs and the Micro-Marine World Overview
- Y9 Food Webs with Adaptations Worksheet
Examine a fish inside and out and see what it had for lunch the day it was caught! Students study how fish respire (breathe), reproduce, and sense their surrounding environment. Conduct an investigation to discover the effect water temperature has on respiration rates. Observe the organisms that call a fish their home, and learn how we manage these fish parasites at the National Aquarium.
Students investigate the effect of and clean up of an oil spill. They learn how pollution affects marine ecosystems in order to increase their awareness of environmental issues, which are ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for many people. Other marine issues covered are the introduction of unwanted marine organisms, and the worldwide protection of endangered marine species.
Gas Exchange Experiment
Using Yellow-Eyed Mullet in tanks, with three different temperatures of saltwater, students monitor the breathing patterns of fish in these conditions. A close look at fish gills, a worksheet to support the experiment and a tour of the aquarium help to build students' learning.
This compliments AS: 2.6 Describe diversity in structure and function of animals; as exchange topic and could also lead into students thinking about doing a practical experiment for NCEA AS90457 2.1.
Focus on the internal and external features of fish in comparison with other aquatic animals.
Students can also observe a locust dissection then discuss its internal respiration features. Locust availability is seasonally dependent.
Close Observation Ideas
Find out what a fish had for breakfast! From a dissected fish, students carefully pull out stomach contents into a small petri dish, rinse with salt water, then see if they can identify fins, heads, shells and generally what the fish has recently eaten.
In this unit students discover the biological and physical factors that affect an aquatic organism’s survival. Your students will observe how a range of aquatic animals adapt to survive. Students identify examples of structural, behavioural and physiological adaptations in the National Aquarium's animals to further develop their understanding and knowledge.
How have evolutionary forces affected New Zealand's fauna? Students observe many examples of evolutionary outcomes to further understand how the processes of evolution have shaped New Zealand’s unique fauna. They examine how different forms of natural selection and speciation act on the National Aquarium's animals.
No Sweat! is a practical and engaging programme structured around Homeostasis AS 3.4. It delivers students an understanding of how an aquatic animal maintains a stable internal environment. Unique tactile experiences and laboratory experiments teach all aspects of thermoregulation strategies using the blue tongue skink, sharks, alligators and penguins. Further knowledge of thermoregulation will be reinforced with a tour of the National Aquarium where students will meet a range of animals demonstrating traits such as exothermy, endothermy and homeostasis.