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Ministry of Education.
Kaua e rangiruatia te hāpai o te hoe; e kore tō tātou waka e ū ki uta

"The Possum Problem", School Journal, level 3, August 2017

21 August 2017

First page of the article with a possum and New Zealand bush

Possums were introduced to New Zealand in 1837 as there were no animals that could be hunted for fur. Possums are still hunted for fur but they also destroy our native forests and birds.

You can find article on Literacy Online: "The Possum Problem", School Journal, level 3, August 2017.

Other useful resources

Discussion starters

Some of your students may be involved in possum trapping and fur collection initiatives in their communities so they might like to bring possum fur or a cured skin for the class to explore. Some students may have clothing made from possum fur.

Discussion questions

Discussion questions for your students could include:

  • What are the performance properties of fur?
  • How can possum fur be manipulated to make clothing, accessories, or homeware? (For example, it can be spun together with wool and the resulting fibre knitted into garments.)
  • What are the subjective properties of possum fur? What are the objective properties of possum fur?

Note that subjective measurement is reliant on people’s perception (for example, tasty, evokes a sense of natural beauty, warm and inviting) whereas objective measurement is not (for example, conductivity, UV resistance).

  • Explore products made from possum fur. How do the properties of the possum fur combine to make the product both technically feasible and socially acceptable?

Note that the fitness for purpose of a product relies on the material providing appropriate performance properties to ensure the product is technically feasible and acceptable (safe, ethical, environmentally friendly, economically viable, and so on, as appropriate to particular products).

Indicators of progression for discussion starters

Component  Indicator  Level
Technological products
  • describe the performance properties of a range of materials and use these to suggest things the materials could be used for
  • describe feasible ways of manipulating a range of materials
  • suggest why the materials used in particular technological products were selected
Technological products
  • describe the properties of materials used in particular products that can be measured objectively
  • describe the properties of materials used in particular products that can be measured subjectively
  • describe how the properties combine to ensure the materials allow the product to be technically feasible and socially acceptable 

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