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Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

Teaching resources for primary and secondary schools.

Topic Lesson Name Description Age / Level
Volcanoes Lesson 1. Volcanoes: What is a volcano and where are New Zealand’s volcanoes? 
  • features of the Earth’s surface; location, appearance and structure of NZ’s volcanoes

Level 2 - 4 curriculum

age 9 – 13

Lesson 2. Inside the Earth: What’s inside the Earth?
  • the internal layers of the Earth and the properties of the crust, mantle and core
Lesson 3. The Crust: How does the crust move?
  • crustal (tectonic) plates and how they interact as they move
Lesson 4. Moving Plates: What pushes the plates along?
  • convection currents
Lesson 5. Creating and Destroying Plates: What happens when plates move?
  • modelling interactions between plates; converging and diverging plate boundaries
Lesson 6. New Zealand’s Plates: What’s happening with New Zealand’s plates?
  • modelling NZ’s position on a plate boundary, linking subduction to volcanism
Lesson 7. Magma: Why don’t all volcanoes look and act the same?
  • linking volcano structure and behaviour to magma composition, effects of viscosity and gas on the explosiveness of magma
Lesson 8. Eruption Products: What can volcanoes produce?
  • the eruptive products of different NZ volcanoes and how they relate to different magmas
Lesson 9. Making a Volcano: How can we make a volcano and use it to educate others?
  • gather information from Volcano Fact Sheets and other sources
  • create a model of a NZ volcano, erupt it and present information to peers
Lesson 10. New Zealand Eruptions: What has happened in New Zealand’s recent eruptions?
  • the impact of 3 NZ eruptions (Taupo, Tarawera and Ruapehu) on people and the environment
Lesson 11. Monitoring Volcanoes: How and why are volcanoes monitored?
  • the warning signs of volcanic unrest and how they are measured
Lesson 12. Preparing for Eruptions: What will happen in future eruptions and how can we be prepared?
  • likely scenarios; the roles of individuals, scientists and Civil Defence in preparing and coping
Lesson 13. Benefits of Volcanoes: What benefits do volcanoes bring to New Zealand?
  • economic and environmental advantages of volcanism and geothermal fields
Fossils Lesson 1: Plant or Animal?
  • Different fossils found in New Zealand

Level 4 curriculum

age 12 – 14

Lesson 2: Macrofossils
  • Classifying macrofossils based on morphological characteristics
Lesson 3: Microfossils
  • Classifying microfossils based on morphological characteristics
Fossil Casting
  • Making plaster casts of fossils or other artifacts using plasticene moulds
Level 1 - 3
age 6 - 12
Earthquakes Wellington Fault Field Trip
  • This is a world class geological site showing the interaction between river erosion and an active fault, as well as hazard planning in a community.

Level 3 - 7 curriculum

age 8 - adult

Shaky New Zealand
  • These activities look at the different structures of the tectonic plate boundary in the North and South Islands. Includes making cardboard models and interpreting data.
Level 5 - 6
Ice & Snow Antarctica Lesson 1
Ice Streams, Ice Shelves and Ice Bergs of Antarctica
  • In the first part you will learn about the main geographical features of Antarctica, and the second exercise will explain the way ice moves in Antarctica, gradually reaching the Southern Ocean and being transported away as floating ice bergs.

Level 4 - 6 curriculum

age 12 - 16 .

Antarctica Lesson 2
 Making an Antarctic Ice and Water Flow Model
  • Using the templates provided, you are going to make a model ‘map wheel’ to see how the ice flows in Antarctica. It also includes ice bergs floating away from the three largest ice shelves and shows the circulating currents of the Southern Ocean.
Antarctica Lesson 3
Antarctic Sediment Cores
  • Learn about the types of sediments formed by the different environments of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.
    Complete a matching exercise to show the distribution of different
    sediments below an Antarctic ice shelf.
    Interpret an imaginary sediment drill core in terms of climate history.
Geology Think like a Geologist 1
What’s the story in a rock section?
  • This exercise involves the interpretation of rock layers and structures in order to work out the history represented in a geological cross section.

Level 5 -6


Think like a Geologist 2
Making 3D geological block diagrams
  • Geologists have to be able to visualise how rocks are arranged in 3 dimensions. A fun and challenging hands-on exercise:
Protecting against Geohazards Create a model rockfall barrier Make a model to protect an area from rockfall
  • Hands-on engineering challenge: design and test a ‘rockfall protection barrier’ that can safeguard an area that is at risk 

Level 3-4 technology curriculum

age 10-14

Create a model sea wall
Hands-on engineering challenge:
  • Design and test a model for protecting a coastal area from erosion
Create a model flood protection stop bank
Test the water retention of the materials used
  • Create a flood protection stop bank and then test how long it can withhold a flood