Environmental Observations

Secondary School Science Teaching Methods

Adam Johnston & Sharon Ohlhorst


Often we assume that science only exists in laboratories, where we manipulate things until they Ado@ science.  With this tendency, we are apt to ignore the science that is Adoing@ all the time right in front of us.


Take a walk outside, and into the foothills and/or around campus, keeping in groups of two.  During this walk, use your senses to observe the natural world around you, including everything above and below you as well. 



bulletIn a notebook or similar tool, note the physical/natural phenomena that you see, hear, smell, feel, etc.  How many observations can you gather in a one hour walk?  What makes a good observation?
bulletAs you make your observations, think about what you cannot observe and what questions you may naturally want to ask.  Write these down as well.  What makes a good question?
bulletFinally, which of your questions can you answer as a scientist?  Propose how you would conduct an experiment that you yourself (or your students) could do to try to answer one or two of your questions.


Have your list of observations, questions, and a proposed scientific experiment before class next time.  (You may want to re-write your list so that itís readable and organized.)  Very soon, you will be taking on your own project, and it may be that one of the questions you propose in this activity will be one that you end up answering later in the course.