Te Kete Ipurangi Navigation:

Te Kete Ipurangi

Te Kete Ipurangi user options:

LEOTC - Learning experiences outside the classroom. Ministry of Education.

EOTC navigation

The learning context

  • For a first year teacher at Mt Hutt College, the decision to come to the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre (NZMSC) had already been made. Her Head of Department (HOD) had reserved dates with suitable low tide times with the NZMSC and put the trip into the school calendar a year prior.
  • The course lasted for three days. The group stayed on Quarantine Island and travelled across to the centre by boat each morning.
  • Although the teacher had never been to the facility, Mt Hutt year 13 biology classes have been coming since 2000, so a lot of the planning was already in the system.

For me as a first year teacher, it was a relief to know that I didn't have to do the unit in the classroom.

  • The learning outcomes were negotiated between the LEOTC educator and the HOD, who led the programme the previous year.
  • The LEOTC visit links with Biology 3.1 and was used to complete Achievement Standard 90713 v2 (see link below). One week of preparation was done in the classroom. The visit would be followed by about one week's classroom work.
  • The achievement standard requires an independent investigation by each student.
  • The students had to achieve a milestone each day. The final milestone is their experimental report, which is submitted three weeks after the return to school.

Planning the visit: Curriculum links

Curriculum area Science
Strand Biology
Level NCEA – Level 3
Achievement objectives

Biology 3.1 (AS91601) – [Formerly: NCEA Achievement Standard 90713 v2]

Biology 3.1

Carry out a practical investigation in a biological context, with guidance (3.1)

[Formerly: Carry out a practical investigation into an aspect of an organism's ecological niche with guidance.]

Learning objectives

Students will:

  • select an aspect of an ecological niche to investigate (focus and planning)
  • carry out the investigation (information gathering)
  • write a scientific report

Planning the visit: Teacher's voice

  • The teacher was well organised for the trip. She used curriculum-based resources and those supplied by the Marine Studies Centre to prepare herself and her students. Her students had a good idea of the work required of them to succeed on the course.
  • She had a parent helper who enjoyed field trips and who was able to offer useful assistance.

Return to top

Teacher/educator conversation

What is the unit of work that your students are currently doing?

"Biology 3.1."

How does the LEOTC visit fit into the whole unit plan?

"It fits in the middle of the unit. We did one week preparation. We will work in the classroom and do about three weeks' work (every 2nd class) after the visit."

What are the specific curriculum links for the visit?

"Biology 3.1, NCEA Achievement Standard 90713 v2." [NB: This AS has been replaced by Biology 3.1 (AS91601)] 

Do you have specific learning outcomes for the visit?


  • investigate ecological niche of crabs
  • design an experiment
  • collect data
  • get an idea of how to process the data."

Describe how you negotiated the learner outcomes for the visit with LEOTC staff.

"I negotiated with the Head of Department and the NZMSC Educator prior. I am new so was told that I was going to do it. HOD has done this programme previously with students."

How have you used the resources supplied by the LEOTC provider to develop your programme?

"Yes, I had a look at the crab booklet and gave it out to the students to have a look at prior to arrival. Also handed out the programme itinerary prior so that the students knew what they were going to be doing."

"I spent time unpacking the unit standard, went through the exemplar, and looked at the scientific language associated with the achievement standard (matched word with definitions)."

Why did you choose this particular venue to support your students' learning?

"I was not involved in the decision. I think it is historical, the school has been coming for years. I don't know of any other place that offers this programme. For me as a first year teacher, it was a relief to know that I didn't have to do the unit in the classroom. Especially as I didn't know much about it."

Have you been to the venue on a fact-finding pre-visit?

"No, but my HOD gave me a good overview of what was involved and what to expect."

How will you assess students' learning from the visit?

"They will have to hand in their log books and I have set numerous milestones that they have to achieve while they are doing the programme. Then they have to hand in a report three weeks afterwards."

Return to top

Pre-visit preparation

Have you developed pre-visit activities for your students or have you used activities provided by the LEOTC provider?

"I developed some of my own activities, used the exemplars on the NCEA website, and used material developed by Helen More from Gore High School. We also looked at the crab booklet supplied by NZMSC."

What is the purpose of these activities?

"To ensure that the students understood what was required of the Achievement Standard, what they needed to do to get excellence, merit, or achieved. We did activities to familiarise them with the scientific language and the experimental process. We reviewed the exemplars and a crab report, so that they had a good understanding of what was expected in the report."

How have you organised the class group for the visit?

"The programme was booked almost a year in advance. It was timetabled one term prior. Had to organise accommodation and food. Brought two vans and one trailer."

Have you given or are you planning to give instructions to adult helpers?

"A father (also chairman of the school board of trustees) came to help – he drove van with trailer, helped students and helped with meals. "

How are you planning to give students responsibility for their own learning?

"The achievement standard requires that the students do an independent investigation. During the visit students have to achieve a milestone each day which has been clearly identified to them. The final milestone is their experimental report, which will be submitted three weeks after we return to school."

Have you discussed codes of behaviour for the visit with students? With the LEOTC provider? With the adults?

"Students and parents had to sign a sheet to say that they would follow school rules during the field trip. I haven't talked about codes of behaviour with father as he is aware of the school rules and the students are good kids, there have been no behaviour problems."

Return to top

Planning the visit - Students' voice

  • Students had been on out-of-school learning experiences before and were generally motivated to come. One was concerned about missing a sports commitment and another was worried about the basic nature of the accommodation.
  • They knew that this was a unique learning opportunity that would extend them beyond their usual classroom practice and were happy to be going out into the field to do their research.
  • They were prepared for the hands-on, investigative nature of the course and were prepared for the challenge of devising their own experiment, despite a fear of crabs for some.

Four students answered these questions on arrival at the New Zealand Marine Studies Centre:

Have you ever been out of school to learn before?

Student 1: "Yes, with geography. Day courses and teacher-led school camp."

Students 2 and 3: "Yes, bio year 12 – Awaawarata Reserve at Mt Hutt to look at zonation for a day. In geography year 11 we went to the West Coast for three nights."

Student 4: "Yes, geography trips."

What are you learning about in class at the moment?

Student 1: "The kinds of things to do for a crab experiment. Genetics at the moment and animal behaviour early in year."

Student 2: "Genetics and molecular biology and animal behaviour, adaptations, ecological niches. In the last week or two we have looked at forming a hypothesis, experimental methods, parts of a crab, reviewed the achievement standard, and looked over the exemplars. We were given the booklets about the crab study to look at a week prior. "

Student 3: "We did about a week preparation in the classroom. We learned the parts of a crab, looked at an experiment on mangroves and answered questions about it. We looked through the achievement standard and discussed what was required to get excellence, merit, and so on."

Student 4: "Experimental design."

Are you enjoying this topic? Why, or why not?

Student 1: "Yes, kind of. Fun to play with crabs. Don't like bio though. Better doing it here than at school."

Student 2: "Yes, interested in animals and their adaptations to the environment."

Student 3: "It is OK."

Student 4: "Yes."

What do you think will be good about going on this trip?

Student 1: "Getting an excellence on internal assessment. Hopefully more interesting than at school. More information here to help with write-up – will make it easier to writeup."

Student 2: "Better than reading a book! You learn a lot more when you are out in the environment and do your own experiments."

Student 3: "We were told last year that the bio 13 class comes every year. We were told about it again in April this year. I didn't want to come because I had a sports commitment [rugby game]."

Student 4: "Reason why I want to come to university is because practical science really does it for me."

What do you think you will do on this trip?

Student 1: "Study crabs. General investigation will be more scientific, with collection of results and interpretation of data and graphs."

Student 2: "We were given the itinerary and crab booklet prior so I knew that the first day was giving us some background on crabs, evening we would have to decide on experiment and write up methods, and then days two and three would be spent doing our experiment and collecting data."

Student 3: "Study crabs, do an experiment with them, but I don't know what I will do."

Student 4: "Hands-on experiments."

What are your learning intentions for this visit?

Student 1: "Gather information for internal assessment."

Student 2: "I want to do a good experiment, get excellent data, and get ideas for my discussion and evaluation."

Student 3: "I want to pass the achievement standard and learn a bit more about crabs."

Student 4: "To do practical science."

What work have you done to prepare for the visit?

Student 1: "Worked on how to do an investigation, what data is needed, wrote a practice method."

Student 2: "Read the itinerary, looked at the crab booklet, participated in the class activities involving the achievement standard, exemplars, and hypothesis formation."

Student 3: "We were given the itinerary and the crab booklet and told to look at it. I only glanced at it and thought that we would not be able to do all that was in the booklet."

Student 4: "Looked at achievement standard, parts of a crab, reviewed mangrove experiment."

What are the questions you want answered?

Student 1: "No questions on experiment yet."

Student 2: "Don't know what I will do my experiment on at this stage."

Student 3: "No idea."

Student 4: "Not sure yet."

How do you expect to answer these questions at the visit?

Student 1: "If I had a question, I'd ask Steve. Look around on the shore."

Student 2: "By doing my experiment and asking the staff."

Student 3: "Not sure."

Student 4: "Individual experiments."

What do you think you will find out on the visit?

Student 1: "Heaps about crabs, history of Quarantine Island."

Student 2: "I expect that by designing and doing the experiment myself, I will gain confidence and understanding."

Student 3: "I think I will find out what happens at a research place."

Student 4: "Get over my fear of crabs."

Have you ever been to this place before?

Student 1: "First time, all new."

Student 2: "No. I have only been to Dunedin once or twice before. I am keen to see the university."

Student 2: "I heard from students last year that we would be coming. They thought it was fun but you had to work hard and there was lots of work to be done back at school afterwards."

Student 3: "Yes, when I was nine years old, with Mt Sommers Springburn School."

Student 4: "Yes, came to Hands-on Science at the University of Otago in January 2007. I dissected a shark."

What happened? Did you find out about anything new?

Student 2: "I don't remember much beyond the big tanks. I know we also went out on the harbour and saw dolphins, went to St Clair beach and went swimming."

Student 4: "Yes, I loved the dissection although let someone else do all the touching and cutting."

Is there anything that's not so great about going on a visit? If so, what?

Student 2: "I had to travel down here on my birthday."

Student 3: "Missing my rugby game."

Student 4: "I was a little freaked out about where we were going to stay – the lack of flush toilet and shower was a concern. I am a real townie; my mother went and bought me a pair of runners for this trip as I had no outdoor footwear."

How do you feel about the visit?

Student 1: "So far a bit boring. Need to be more active. Used to running a bit more during the day. Bit like school. I am looking forward to being on the seashore. I like being outside. It was a long drive down."

Student 4: "I loved going to Hands-on Science. I did the Human Nutrition project and I am planning to do Human Nutrition at the University of Otago next year."

Return to top