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Education Programmes

Learn at the National Aquarium of New Zealand – National Curriculum Programmes

We provide unique learning activities and resources for a wide range of ages and abilities. Linked to the New Zealand National Curriculum, we aim to deliver top quality interactive experiences using resources including natural history specimens and technology.

View the range of programmes below, or enquire with our team if you require a programme to suit your educational outcomes.

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Early Childhood

Primary

Secondary

Tertiary & International

In Environmental Issues, students explore the impact plastic and rubbish have on aquatic environments. The interdependence of living things, food chains and pollution are also covered and examined by students during this unit.

Age Group: Year 1-8 (Level 1-5)

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute hands on lesson and 30-minute anatomy and observation session).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.

Capacity: 40

Learning Spaces: Education Room and Mad Scientist Lab at the Aquarium.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living World, Life Processes, Evolution, Planet Earth and Beyond.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Develop an understanding that water, air, rocks and soil, and life forms, make up our planet and recognise that these are also Earth’s resources.
  • Appreciate that humans can affect interconnecting systems and processes of the Earth in both positive and negative ways.
  • Explain how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced.

In Shark Attack, students will get up close with the Aquarium's many shark species as they discover the truth about one of nature's most feared predators! They'll explore the similarities and differences between sharks and other fish species, and find out how and why a shark's anatomy places it at the top of the aquatic food chain.

Age Group: Year 1-6 (Level 1-4)

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute hands on lesson and 30-minute anatomy and observation session).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.

Capacity: 40

Learning Space: Education Room at the Aquarium.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living World, Life processes, Ecology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Extend their experiences and personal explanations of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models.
  • Recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive.
  • Recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat.

Life for animals on Hardinge Road's Rocky Shore in Napier is never easy! Every day these animals are battered by the tides, changes in temperature and salinity, and predators.  

In the Rocky Shore Lesson, students will discover how crabs, sea snails, starfish, sea anemones and fish adapt to protect themselves in this ever-changing rocky shore tide-pool habitat.  

Age Group:  Year 1-8 (Level 1-5)  

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lesson and 30-minute activity session).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.  

Capacity:  40  

Learning Space: Education Room at the Aquarium.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living World, Life Processes, Ecology  

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Extend their experiences and personal explanations of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models. 
  • Recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive.  
  • Recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat.

Our Aquarium educators can meet your class at Hardinge Road in Napier for a Rocky Shore Visit. While there they'll help with identification of the rocky shore's residents while discussing the adaptations, food chains, tidal zones and conservation of the rocky shore environment.  

This programme is free of charge for state, integrated and registered private primary and secondary schools.  

If you wish you can also visit the National Aquarium for follow-up activities either on the same day, or at a later date (normal school rates apply).  

The best times to visit Hardinge Road's Rocky Shore are up to two hours before low tide and up to one hour after low tide. Check out our rocky shore calendar here.

Age Group:  Year 1-8 (Level 1-5)  

Duration: 1.5 hours    

Capacity:  100+  

Learning Space: Hardinge Road's Rocky Shore by the playground.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living World, Life Processes, Ecology

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Extend their experiences and personal explanations of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models. 
  • Recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive.  
  • Recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat.

In the Life at the Boundary - East Coast LAB programme students uncover more about earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions. They’ll learn about scientists’ latest discoveries and become scientists themselves – bring your students for a natural hazards education experience at LAB!  

Hands-on and engaging activities will set a solid framework for their learning: they'll mix various ingredients to create  their own volcano; cause a tsunami; and build examples of strong and weak houses to see which is strongest in an earthquake. At the end of the programme, a challenge will be presented to students to develop their own action plan at home.

Age Groups: Year 1-8 (Level 1-6)*
*This programme is also available for secondary school students Years 9-11

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lesson and 30-minute interactive rotations).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.   

Capacity: 40  

Learning Space: East Coast LAB at the Aquarium.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Investigating in Science and Communicating in Science, Planet Earth and Beyond, Interacting Systems, Earth Systems, Social Studies, Physical World.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Describe how natural features are changed and resources affected by natural events and human actions.

What makes a fish a fish? In Fishy Features, students examine the basic external anatomy of fish and investigate how they breathe and move. They'll also find out about their internal organs and the role each organ plays in survival.

Age Group: Year 1-6 (Level 1-4)

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lesson and 30-minute activity session).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.

Capacity: 40

Learning Space: Education Room at the Aquarium.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living World, Life Processes, Ecology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Extend their experiences and personal explanations of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models.
  • Recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive.
  • Recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat.

In Traditional Māori Fisheries students learn how early Māori used their scientific knowledge and respect for their environment to create tikanga (customs and protocols) to protect one of their most valuable assets, kaimoana (seafood).

Students will explore the spiritual rules, ocean conservation and kaimoana trade in traditional Māori fisheries while comparing past with the present.  

Age Group: Year 1-6  (Level 1-4)  

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lesson and 30-minute activity session) '
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the aquarium at your own pace after the programme.  

Capacity:  40  

Learning Space: Education Room at the Aquarium. 

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Planet Earth and Beyond, Social Studies.   

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Extend their experiences and personal explanations of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models. 
  • Develop an understanding that water, air, rocks and soil, and life forms make up our planet and recognise that these are also Earth’s resources. 
  • Understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions, and values.

In Diving into Dinosaurs, students use evidence from fossils, rocks and landforms to describe geological history. They'll discover how fossils are formed and how they're actually remnants of an ancient and very much different life on Earth.

Students will investigate and describe processes, which change the Earth's surface over time at local and global levels.    

Age Group: Year 1-6 (Level 1-4)  

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute hands on lesson and 30-minute fossil making session)
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.  

Capacity: 40  

Learning Space: Education Room at the Aquarium.   

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living World, Evolution, Planet Earth and Beyond.  

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Explain how we know that some living things from the past are now extinct.  
  • Appreciate that water, air, rocks and soil, and life forms make up our planet and recognise that these are also Earth’s resources.

By listening to the local Māori legend Pania of the Reef students learn about their reef, its aquatic bio-diversity and the Māori concepts of taonga, rāhui tapu and kaitiakitanga. Students examine how the reef has changed over time, with respect to its use throughout the ages.

Age Group:  Year 1-8 (Level 1-5)

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lesson and 30-minute activity session).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.  

Capacity:  40  

Learning Space: Education Room at the Aquarium.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living world, Ecology, Planet Earth and Beyond, Social Studies.   

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions, and values.  
  • Explain how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced. 
  • Recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat.

Adaptations – all fish have them! In Staying Alive students discover how diverse ranges of aquatic animals adapt to survive in their environment. Learn how to tell instantly if a fish is fast or slow, predator or prey, and where they might live in an environment.   

Students will observe examples of fish defences including camouflage, schooling, fish communication and body design.  

Age Group:  Year 4-8 (Level 2-4)  

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lesson and 30-minute activity session).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.   

Capacity: 40  

Learning Space: Education Room at the Aquarium. 

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living world, Evolution, Ecology. 

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Recognise that all living things have certain requirements so they can stay alive.  
  • Explain how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced.

In Primo Penguins students get to brush up close with these captivating little birds. They'll discover how penguins survive in the incredibly harsh environments they inhabit and learn about what really makes them who they are and live the way they do.

Also covered in this unit are conservation issues and what we as humans can do to help protect penguins.  

Age Group:  Year 1-6 (Level 1-4) 

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lesson and 30-minute activity session)
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.  

Capacity:  40  

Learning Space: Education Room at the Aquarium.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living world, Ecology.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Explain how living things are suited to their particular habitat and how they respond to environmental changes, both natural and human-induced.  
  • Extend their experiences and personal explanations of the natural world through exploration, play, asking questions, and discussing simple models.

Ever wondered what it takes to operate the National Aquarium's Oceanarium? In Technology at the Aquarium, students will get a behind-the-scenes look at the technology that keeps the Aquarium running. They'll also get to test the salinity, pH and temperature of the water from the Aquarium's tanks to solve a mystery water puzzle.     

Age Group:  Year 4-8 (Level 2-5)  

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lab testing session and 30-minute tour activity)
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the programme.   

Capacity:  40  

Learning Spaces: Education Room and Mad Scientist Lab at the Aquarium.

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Living World, Life processes, Ecology  

Intended Learning Outcomes ...

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Ask questions, find evidence, explore simple models, and carry out appropriate investigations to develop simple explanations.

ON HOLD UNTIL 2021

The Waste Aware Programme is a Napier City Council, environmental education initiative focusing on solid waste, recycling and the protection of the marine environment. The programme runs for a full school term and is designed for primary and intermediate children, years 1–8.

The programme's vision is to 'educate school children and the wider community on how to minimise solid waste entering the local landfill'. The programme includes 2-3 field trips for students to see for themselves what happens with our rubbish when it leaves the bin.

The Napier City Council Waste Aware Programme is free for Napier primary schools.

Age Group: Year 1–8 (Level 1–4)

Duration: Full-term programme – five sessions with the Waste Aware educators and in-class learning.

Capacity: Whole school although each trip / session is conducted one class at a time.

Waste Aware Learning Spaces:

  • Lesson 1: Your classroom.
  • Lesson 2: Omarunui Landfill.
  • Lesson 3: National Aquarium of New Zealand.
  • Lesson 4: Year 1–3 at your school, Years 4+ at Hawk Packaging in Whakatu.
  • Lesson 5: Your school.

Intended Learning Outcomes...

After the programme, students will will be able to:

  • Identify and use local community resources and explain how these contribute to a healthy community.

The vision of the Waste Aware programme is to give students ‘a greater appreciation of the environment and the positive and negative impacts that we can have’. The vision is achieved through the following aims of the programme and a full term of lessons:

  • An understanding of waste and associated problems.
    (Science, Making Sense of the Living World)
  • A look at the impacts waste can have on the marine environment.
    (Science, Making Sense of the Living World)
  • A study of the need to recycle to preserve resources.
    (Making Sense of Planet Earth and Beyond. Social Studies, Place and Environment)

In the Life at the Boundary – East Coast LAB lesson, your students will uncover more about how the Hikurangi Plate boundary shapes Hawke's Bay’s relationship to earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions. 

Learn about the cutting edge science used to study patterns and risks for natural hazards. Hands-on and engaging activities will set a solid framework for their learning with mini sessions focusing on liquefaction, tsunami and faultlines.   

Age Group: Years 9-11 (Level 4-6)    

Duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes* (30-minute lesson, 30-minute activity session, and 15-minute worksheet resource).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the lesson. 

Learning Space: East Coast LAB at the Aquarium.

Capacity: 40  

Topics Covered: Nature of Science, Investigating in Science and Communicating in Science, Planet Earth and Beyond, Interacting Systems, Earth Systems, Social Studies, Physical World.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After the programme, students will be able to:

  • Describe how natural features are changed and resources affected by natural events and human actions.

Who eats who out there in the ocean? Food webs are central to understanding how aquatic ecosystems work. In the Food Webs & Adaptations students examine marine food webs to develop an appreciation of the interactions between life forms beneath the surface.

Students will also handle biofacts that show the adaptations that animals have to help them feed (or avoid being food!). Students identify examples of structural, behavioural and physiological adaptations in the Aquarium's animals to further develop their understanding and knowledge.

Duration: 1 hour* (30-minute lesson + 30-minute activity session).
*We suggest allowing at least 30 minutes to self-guide through the Aquarium at your own pace after the lesson.

Learning Space: Education Room. 

Topics Covered: Science, Living World, Life Processes, Ecology.

The Gas Exchange & Dissection lesson compliments NCEA 2.6 and comprises three activities:    

  • Dissection – Focus on the internal and external features of fish, in particular looking at the gill structures and how they work in the respiration process. 
  • Dissolved Oxygen Experiment – Students take samples at four different tanks around the Aquarium, and compare dissolved oxygen levels between various temperature levels.  
  • Gas Exchange Tour – Did you know there are fish that can drown underwater? Or that some types of turtle can breathe using their bottoms? This guided tour of the Aquarium focuses on the structures and techniques animals use to breathe in the aquatic world.  

Age Group: Year 12 (NCEA Level 2)  

Duration: 1.5 hours 

Capacity: 30   

Learning Space: Education Lab at the Aquarium.

The free Rocky Shore Transects Study lesson compliments Year 12 topics on distribution and zonation. Aquarium experts will meet your class at the Hardinge Road Rocky Shore and provide support as you run your transect studies. 

We can provide thermometers, hydrometers and ID Charts as well as expert knowledge on all of the species you will find in your quadrats.

Check out our Rocky Shore Tide Calendar for low tides within the school day.

The National Aquarium can facilitate your animal responses practical investigations for NCEA AS 91603. You group will be able to self-direct their daphnia response experiments in our well stocked lab, with a range of options for possible tests.

Start with an introduction to daphnia by an aquarium educator and a tour of the lab equipment. Your class can then have the use of the lab and education room for the rest of the day to conduct your experiments.

Age Group: Year 13 (NCEA Level 3)

Duration: All day

Capacity: 20

Learning Space: Education Lab at the Aquarium.

Cost: $6.50 per student, plus an additional one-off $50.00 for the daphnia.

Learn about our place in the New Zealand tourism scene, and chat to staff about how their career pathways lead to working at the National Aquarium. Your students can then experience the aquarium as tourists by exploring their way around our exhibits.

The National Aquarium of New Zealand attracts over 100,000 visitors every year. It is home to a wide range of animals large and small, as well as a thriving café and gift shop. We are Qualmark Gold rated and a member of IAAPA, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.

Age Group: Year 9 – 13

Duration: 30 minutes, then explore the Aquarium for as long as you like.

Capacity: 30

Learning Space: Education room, Visitor Services areas

Discuss your needs with our Education Officers to help build an activity for your learners.

Discuss your needs with our Education Officers to help build an activity for your learners.

We can't wait to show you our world.

Opening Hours

Daily from 9:00am - 5:00pm
(including public holidays)
last entry 4:30pm

Address

Marine Parade, Napier

+64 6 834 1404

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