Outline of unit

During this unit, students assist the character Science Officer Atto from the Planet Zeta Canis 1, to understand living and non-living things on Earth. By examining specimens and their observable features, students learn the definitions of living and non-living things. Students also explore the life stages and lifecycle of living things by investigating the growth of selected plants and animals in the classroom. Students explore biological areas within their school grounds to examine factors that affect living things; describe relationships between living things and study biodiversity. Students gather and collate information from their investigations and then use this information to inform Atto about the living things on Earth. Students will use their knowledge to make recommendations to their school about how to improve biodiversity within their school grounds,

Australian Curriculum content descriptions

Year 3

Science Understanding

Biological sciences

Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

Year 4

Science Understanding

Biological sciences

Living things have life cycles (ACSSU072)

Year 3 and 4

Science as a Human Endeavour

Nature and development of science

Science involves making predictions and describing patterns and relationships
(yr 3 ACSHE050, yr 4 ACSHE061

Use and influence of science

Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions
(yr 3 ACSHE051 yr 4 ACSHE062)

Science Inquiry Skills

Questioning and predicting

With guidance, identify questions in familiar contexts that can be investigated scientifically and predict what might happen based on prior knowledge
(yr 3 ACSIS053, yr 4 ACSIS064)

Planning and conducting

Safely use appropriate materials, tools or equipment to make and record observations, using formal measurements and digital technologies as appropriate
(yr 3 ACSIS055 yr 4 ACSIS066)

Processing and analysing data and information

Use a range of methods including tables and simple column graphs to represent data and to identify patterns and trends
(yr 3 ACSIS057, yr 4 ACSIS068)

Compare results with predictions suggesting possible reasons for findings
(yr 3 ACSIS215, yr 4 ACSIS216)


Represent and communicate ideas and findings in a variety of ways such as diagrams, physical representations and simple reports
(yr 3 ACSIS060, yr 4 ACSIS071)

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Achievement standard

This lesson sequence provides opportunities to gather information about students’ understanding of the sections in bold in the achievement statement below:

By the end of Year 3, students use their understanding of the movement of the Earth, materials and the behaviour of heat to suggest explanations for everyday observations. They describe features common to living things. They describe how they can use science investigations to respond to questions and identify where people use science knowledge in their lives.

Students use their experiences to pose questions and predict the outcomes of investigations. They make formal measurements and follow procedures to collect and present observations in a way that helps to answer the investigation questions. Students suggest possible reasons for their findings. They describe how safety and fairness were considered in their investigations. They use diagrams and other representations to communicate their ideas

By the end of Year 4, students apply the observable properties of materials to explain how objects and materials can be used. They use contact and non-contact forces to describe interactions between objects. They discuss how natural and human processes cause changes to the Earth’s surface. They describe relationships that assist the survival of living things and sequence key stages in the life cycle of a plant or animal. They identify when science is used to ask questions and make predictions. They describe situations where science understanding can influence their own and others’ actions. Students follow instructions to identify investigable questions about familiar contexts and predict likely outcomes from investigations. They discuss ways to conduct investigations and safely use equipment to make and record observations. They use provided tables and simple column graphs to organise their data and identify patterns in data. Students suggest explanations for observations and compare their findings with their predictions. They suggest reasons why their methods were fair or not. They complete simple reports to communicate their methods and findings.

Source: Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA)

Australian flower, © ASTA; Bird's nest and eggs, Nick/KCCBF, CC BY-NC 2.0; Hibiscus Harlequin beetles immediately following hatching, © N Sandry; Pebbles on beach at Broulee, Steve Shattuck,CC BY 2.0.

Additional information for teachers


Background information (PDF, 1.2 MB)

Safety advice (PDF, 1.2MB)

Materials and equipment (PDF, 590 KB)