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Alpha Series

ARCHIVED: The Alpha Series was designed to support the learning of science, mathematics and technology in the national curriculum.

The Alphas placed an emphasis on “this is the science and this is how it affects New Zealand”. Alphas were written and reviewed by acknowledged experts in the topic area and can be freely downloaded for educational purposes.

PLEASE NOTE: they are not being updated and may no longer align with the national curriculum nor contain the latest information.

Issue 138: Human Evolution
How did our species come to be the way it is today? In this Alpha, we take a look at the scientific topic of human evolution.
Issue 137: Aspects of Evolution
If we could travel far back in time, say 100 million years, life on Earth would look very different to what it does today.
Issue 136: In the Footsteps of Linnaeus – Biological Classification in New Zealand
This Alpha introduces you to researchers working in different areas of biosystematics.
Issue 135: Carl Linnaeus and Biological Classification
Why do we need to classify living things? Life comes in all shapes and sizes, and is found in many different places.
Issue 134: The Energy we use in New Zealand Homes
Science is often thought of as something that happens in laboratories. We often overlook the science under our noses.
Issue 133: Our Place in Space… Space Research in New Zealand
Astronomers, scientists and teachers around New Zealand are involved in a variety of space-related research.
Issue 132: Painted Apple Moth… where did it come from?
The painted apple moth is very small – only about two centimetres across its wingspan.
Issue 131: Climate Change Science – Human Influence on the Atmosphere
Natural greenhouse gases like water vapour and carbon dioxide keep the Earth warmer than it would otherwise be.
Issue 130: The Science Behind Special Effects
With today’s technology, imagination is the only limit to what can be created on a movie screen.
Issue 129: Working with Science
A science career is more than a job; it is a way of life. All scientists contribute to the world’s wealth of knowledge.
Issue 128: Aquatic Nasties in the Water Near You
Alien aquatic plants are invading a waterway near you. This Alpha covers aquatic nasties and algal blooms.
Issue 127: Harakeke – Flax
Flax, or harakeke, has played an important part in the lives of New Zealanders. It is a long-time part of our cultural heritage.
Issue 126: Southern Traverse
There is little doubt that regular physical activity is good for us. But can you have too much of a good thing?
Issue 125: Frogs at Risk
This Alpha traces the change in attitude towards frogs from the 18th Century to today. But will they survive the 21st century?
Issue 124: Stonehenge Aotearoa
The ancient stones known as Stonehenge in England inspired a full-scale working adaptation right here in Aotearoa.
Issue 123: Fresh Water Aquatic Plants
Aquatic plants refer to any organisms living in water that photosynthesise.
Issue 121: Michael Walker – Te pūtaiao me te Moana
Issue 122: Michael Walker – Scientist and the Sea
(Te reo Māori and English versions available) The exciting story about Associate Professor’s life and his research on how animals navigate their way round the oceans.
Issue 120: Unlocking the Ice House – Antarctica and its role in Climate Change
Describes the role of Antarctica’s key importance in trying to understand and predict global climate change.
Issue 119: Insect Invaders and the Seduction of Scent
Describes the impact of unwanted insects to New Zealand and the mechanisms to detect, suppress or eradicate them.
Issue 118: Hydrogen… Fuel Cells… Energy
Details the recent development of fuel cells and research worldwide and in New Zealand.
Issue 117: New Zealand Streams and Rivers
Details waterway ecosystems and the need for management to ensure good quality water.
Issue 116: Fatal Impact – The Asteroid that wiped out the Dinosaurs
Details the impact of the asteroid’s direst hit on the Yucatan Penisula and the resulting scenario on planet earth.
Issue 115: Alan Cooper – Explorer and Scientist
Alan Cooper led the first team in the world to determine the DNA sequence of a genome from an extinct species – our Moa.
Issue 114: Sedimentation – Its Impact on Estuaries
Description of estuaries as diverse and productive systems and their importance as ecological, economic and cultural areas.
Issue 113: Climate Variability and Regional Development
Otago as the model where climate determines what used to be grown or farmed to changes over the last few years.
Issue 112: Renewable Energy and Climate Change
The greenhouse effect – CO2 and climate change – The Kyoto protocol and New Zealand’s position.
Issue 111: Helen is a Seismologist
A role model of Helen Anderson, Chief Scientific Adviser for the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology.
Issue 110: Oil and Gas
The economics and politics of oil prospecting and New Zealand’s geological features.
Issue 109: Tourism and the Environment
Describes the tourism industry with focus on the variety of places tourists visit and the uniqueness of our flora and fauna.
Issue 108: Marine Biodiversity
The great unknown! Just how many plants and animals do we share planet Earth with? We do not know.
Issue 107: Possums
Early liberation of the brushtail possum and full description of its life and habits including life history.
Issue 106: The Iron Hypothesis
Why would scientists load a ship with 10 tonnes of iron sulphate, sail out to sea and tip it into the Southern Ocean?
Issue 105: Unravelling the links – Mitochondria and Māori migrations
Origins of pacific people – founding of Aotearoa New Zealand. DNA technology and work by researchers.
Issue 104: New Zealand’s Alpine Fault
Importance of the fault – Movements recorded over last 25 million years – The next big one, when, and how big?