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  • Taking part in this project helps scientists and conservationists know more about the habits of kea. Where are they? How far do they travel? Do they get around in groups? Logging sighting information helps create a more complete understanding of the habits of kea, which enables us to do more to protect this endangered species.


    Reach: Regional

    Nature of science focus: Online citizen science (OCS) projects can be used to develop any of the Nature of Science (NoS) substrands. Identify aspects of NoS that your students need to get better at or understand more fully and then frame your unit to be very clear about these things when you do them.

    Science capability focus: Gather and interpret data, Interpret representations

    Science focus: Ecology, habitat

    Some suggested science concepts:

    • Each bird species can be classified as being native, endemic, introduced and/or endangered.
    • Bird species are adapted to live in their particular habitats.
    • Changes in habitat can affect the survival of living organisms in an area and the relationships between them.
    • Populations are living organisms of the same species living in the same area at the same time.

    Many concepts could be learned – focusing on a few can often be more powerful. Develop your learning outcomes and success criteria from these concepts as well as the Nature of Science strand and the science capabilities.

    Some examples of learning outcomes:

    Students can:

    • identify kea by their external features
    • compare adaptive features and explain their role in the kea’s survival
    • explain the meaning of some of the features of the sightings maps
    • discuss how logged sightings are used by scientists.

    About Kea Database

    Do you live in the mountainous parts of the South Island or are you planning a school trip there? If so, you might meet one of our most social native birds, the kea.

    You can contribute to Kea Database by logging your location when you see a kea. Many are also banded. If the kea you see is banded, you can identify the name of your kea and see where the last 20 sightings of that particular kea have been, helping you to understand how far they travel and at what times.

    Alongside assisting scientists to better understand the habits of kea, this OCS project offers opportunities to develop students’ confidence in reading topographic maps and understanding of scale (a useful maths integration).

    Nature of science

    Using this OCS gives opportunities to discuss how scientists might use the collective data to monitor kea numbers and distribution. Students can also consider the challenges for scientists in obtaining such sightings (data) themselves and develop the science capability ‘Interpret representations’.

    Related content

    Find out more about New Zealand’s native birds and their adaptations in the Hub’s birds topic.

    The Ministry of Education’s Connected series includes the following articles and teacher support material: The takeaway table, What Alice saw, Keep your cat inside and Bringing Back the Birdsong.

    We have re-purposed the popular Building Science Concepts Book 3: Birds: Structure, Function, and Adaptation with an article and interactive linking this great resouce with Hub content.

    The iNaturalist online citizen science project uses Seek, a species identification app.

    Here are some planning tips for when you intend to use a citizen science project with your students.

    Useful links

    The Kea Conservation Trust provides a range of information, including teacher resources.

    The Department of Conservation's resource Investigating alpine environments is aimed at years 9-13.

    Find out more about kea and Kea Database citizen science project in this Radio New Zealand article and podcast.


    This project outline was written as part of Victoria University of Wellington’s Citizen Scientists in the Classroom project funded by the Ministry of Education’s Teaching & Learning Research Initiative.

      Published 20 March 2019 Referencing Hub articles
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