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  • In 2019, students from three Dunedin primary schools teamed up with University Otago scientist Dr Cynthia Winkworth to complete two goals: to discover which invertebrates were living in Dunedin’s city and park environments and to find a peripatus (ngāokeoke or velvet worm).

    Rights: Crown 2020

    Connected article: City of bugs

    An article in the 2020 level 2 Connected journal ‘Digging deeper’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

    Photograph (slug, dirt and leaf elements) by George Frost, and student photo, © Otago Daily Times/Allied Press/Jessica Wilson.

    Peripatus are really unusual invertebrates. They’ve been around for 500 million years but are only found in Dunedin and two other cities in the entire world!

    The students surveyed two ecosystems: their school and a bushy park. They used three different survey methods at each site. Students learned how scientists work very carefully as they systematically collect data and ensure that it is accurate and can be compared.

    Rights: Frupus, CC BY-NZ 2.0


    New Zealand peripatus (Peripatoides novaezealandiae), commonly called velvet worms, are unusual in that they are little changed from 500 million years ago and have their own phylum: Onychophora. They can be found throughout New Zealand, mostly in cool, shady and damp areas, and only come out at night to prey on other invertebrates, which they catch with jets of sticky fluid.

    For more information on peripatus, see this Predator Free NZ article Peripatus is a sharp-shooting ‘living fossil’.

    Back in the classroom, they had to learn how to interpret and use the data – looking for patterns, including similarities and differences.

    The final task was learning how to be an effective science communicator. They created flyers and found other ways of sharing their findings with the community.

    Check your school library for the article from the 2020 level 2 Connected journal ‘Digging deeper’, download it as a Google slide presentation from or order it from the Ministry of Education.

    Rights: Crown 2020

    2020 Connected level 2: Digging deeper

    The cover of the 2020 level 2 Connected journal ‘Digging deeper’ published by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand. This issue includes the articles ‘Squawkzilla’, ‘City of bugs’, ‘Whakaotirangi and her kete of kūmara’ and ‘Making scents’.

    Teacher support material

    The teacher support material (TSM) can be downloaded from Tāhūrangi (Word and PDF files available).

    The supporting materials for this article list key nature of science (NoS) ideas for level 2 – ‘Investigating in science’ and ‘Communicating in science’. It includes four learning activities that support exploring the science and technology aspects of the New Zealand Curriculum:

    • Insects in our place
    • Peripatus
    • Bug hotels
    • Getting the message out.

    Related content

    Explore What’s so special about insects?, Insect taxonomy and Insects – physical characteristics to find out more about insects.

    Discover more of our resources on insects, or browse the range of content under our invertebrates topic.

    Use iNaturalist to help identify insects. Find out more how to use this citizen science project in your teaching.

    Learn about bringing insects into your classroom in our webinar All about insects featuring entomologists Dr Chrissie Painting and Tom Saunders.

    Nature of science resources:

    Check out our entire range of Connected articles here. We’ve curated them by topic and concepts.

    Activity ideas

    Moths – learn how to collect moths and how to rear them to observe their life cycle. Watch a video on rearing moths and write a ‘how to’ guide in Rearing insects.

    Label a wētā and cicada using the online interactives or download a paper alternative.

    Read about the work that these students undertook on redesigning houses for wētā and then try the associated activity Building homes for tree wētā.

    In Insect mihi, students write a formal introduction for an insect species including its relationship to other animals and the land.

    Make a wanted poster to help enhance your students’ observation and scientific drawing skills.

    Identifying bugs uses ‘What is this bug?’ from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research to identify an insect.

    Useful links

    Find out more about peripatus/ngāokeoke on the Department of Conservation website.

    For more information on peripatus, see this indepth article Peripatus is a sharp-shooting ‘living fossil’ from Predator Free NZ.

    Visit our We love bugs Pinterest board with links to resources and community activities.

    The Connected journals can be ordered from the Down the Back of the Chair website. Access to these resources is restricted to Ministry-approved education providers. To find out if you are eligible for a login or if you have forgotten your login details, contact their customer services team on 0800 660 662 or email


    The Connected series is published annually by the Ministry of Education, New Zealand.

      Published 4 May 2021 Referencing Hub articles
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