Go to our new-look site, it combines the Biotechnology and Science Learning Hubs with a new look and new functionality. This is our legacy site and is no longer maintained.


Integrating numeracy and literacy

Sinead Senek from Sts Peter and Paul School in Lower Hutt used science investigations and research from the Rockets context to provide students with a clear purpose to engage in extensive reading and explanatory writing. The unit planning and timing was critical for its integration within the class writing programme. Students recognised the value of reading and maths in everyday life – and for their science learning.

To think about:

  • What other authentic contexts for teaching and learning occur within the context of rockets and forces?
  • How could you integrate numeracy and literacy into other science contexts?



One thing that you look at as a teacher is to provide a programme that engages all students, and you’re trying to also particularly look at ways to engage boys in the reading and the writing aspect of the programme.


I might give you a 4 because you clearly wrote a description that … definitions of what the explanation is going to be about, and you really tell what the forces in rockets are.


It was really finding a way to engage them as writers in a topic that they were enthusiastic about, that they actually had a lot of knowledge about, and therefore they could see the purpose for them to record ideas and to write down what they were doing. We’ve moved on to the stage where we’re using those notes to help us write our explanations. Look, you’ve already organised all your information already. It’s already done, so really now it’s about taking that and putting it into a paragraph and an explanation structure. And that has taken a lot of pressure off them.


In our class, we started creating a mind map, which is where you put all your ideas together on one main topic, and ours was all about rockets, so what I did for my mind map is all I knew about rockets. Some information I got from my head, well, most of my information came from Science Learning Hub, because it was a very good website and it had lots of information on it. So then I started writing a story about rockets.

Well, I think rockets are pretty unique. It all started in the 1200s where a Chinese specialised group mixed three chemicals to create gunpowder.

It’s going to be a really detailed timeline in everything a rocket can be, to show what a rocket is, to show what rockets are used for and to show different types of rockets.


So the circumference is 21, so we write 21 divided by 3.


When we were making the rockets, we had to measure the circumference of the bottle and then work out how evenly spaced we were going to put our fins. I said, what have you noticed about our maths here? What are you using? And they said, well, we’re measuring, but we’re also using our multiplication, our division, I’m also doing a bit of adding. Oh, I had to work out fractions, I had to work out half a litre, or I had to work out a quarter of a litre for when I was going to fill my bottle up, and then I had to measure that in my container accurately.

It was a great opportunity for them to see how everything in maths – it’s not just separate strands we learn for 6 weeks and then a 3-week block and so on – that’s my daily life, and if I’m working as a scientist, I’m using all of those areas together to solve whatever problem I’m trying to solve or do.


I learnt how maths, writing and reading can come in useful in everyday life, which I find very interesting. I thought that all rockets were was a pointy thing that rocketed up into outer space, and now I’ve learnt that, to do that, you need to have the right amount of thrust and lift.

Sinead Senek
Sts Peter and Paul School