Science and Teaching for Field Instructors

Making Observations

How observations lead to curiosity and wonder about nature

Making observations is a key foundation for the methods and activities all scientists use to better understand the natural world. This session helps participants directly engage students with nature through scientific observation. It provides participants with basic skills, behaviors and tools to use with students to help them become curious about nature. Teaching students to make careful observations leads them to develop emotional connections with nature. Helping students to cultivate a mindset of engaging with their surroundings gives them a valuable life skill. These kinds of experiences support the goal of empowering students to be able to engage with nature on their own, even after they leave an outdoor science program. Many field instructors have found these tools transformative for their instructional practice and in helping shift the attention from the instructor onto student-student and student-nature interactions. For this reason, many program leaders use Making Observations to initially expose their staff to BEETLES approaches and professional learning sessions.

Goals for this session are:
  • To help participants learn the significance and value of helping students make more accurate, detailed observations.
  • To model for participants activity routines that help students improve observation skills in order to deepen engagement, curiosity, wonder and connection in nature.
  • To provide a forum for discussion of how and when anthropomorphism and identifying organisms can be beneficial or detrimental to students’ observations and interactions with nature.
  • To help participants learn how to make better scientific observations themselves.
View and Download Materials:
Leader Guide
Leader Guide
Session Slides
Session Slides
A Whole Bunch of Quotes
A Whole Bunch of Quotes
Activities and Main Ideas
Activities and Main Ideas
Choices for Encouraging Student Observations
Choices for Encouraging Student Observations
Background Information
Background Information
Applying Session to Instruction
Applying Session to Instruction
Extended Application Experience
Extended Application Experience
References
References
Instructor Guide
Instructor Guide
Instructor Support
Instructor Support
Field Card
Field Card

Notes: Professional learning videos are intended to support program leaders, not as online learning experiences for field instructors. This video was edited to focus on how the program leader leads the session; the actual session is much more participant-focused, and participants spend most of the session exploring and discussing ideas with their peers. The script and this video don’t always agree. We recommend you follow the script if you notice a discrepancy.