Connections to:Place-based Education Principles: Learner-centered, community as classroom, inquiry based Cross Cutting Concepts in Next Generation Science Standards: Patterns Social Emotional Learning: Relationship building, increased awareness and perspectives, empathy building, increased confidence
- Identify patterns to form observations, questions and connections.
- Engage with the first steps of the scientific process.
- Increase curiosity for aspects of the surrounding world.
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Lesson Activity:What does it mean to “observe”? What do you think of when someone says “observe”? Imagine what it means to make careful observations. What does it involve? Making observations is both a sensory experience using your body and a thinking experience using your mind. Find an object. Look around you and find some sort of object that is no larger than your hand. This can be something natural (rock, leaf, flower) or human-made if you can’t make it outside. Use your senses to NOTICE. Start by holding your object in your hand. What do you notice?
- Close your eyes. What do you feel? Is it rough or smooth? Does it have a particular shape? Is it light or heavy? Say all of your observations about what you feel out loud with the phrase, “I NOTICE….”. Be as specific as possible. (ex. “I notice on one side it feels pointy and the other side feels more round.”)
- Hold your object up to your ear. Does it make a sound? What about if you shake it lightly? What kind of sound do you think it would make if it dropped to the ground? Continue to make “I NOTICE….” statements aloud while thinking of sound.
- Open your eyes. What do you see? Can you describe what your object looks like? Does it have color? What does it look like from different perspectives? Bring your object close to your eyes to see it up close. What do you notice? (If you have a hand lens, use it to examine your object at a micro-level.) Hold your object farther away. What do you notice? If you have a journal, feel free to draw your object in as much detail as you wish.
- Now hold your object closely and try smelling it. Does it have a particular scent? What does it smell like? Make your “I NOTICE….” statements aloud.
- If it is safe to do so (ask a parent first!), go ahead and taste your object. If you aren’t able to taste it, either skip to the next step or imagine what it would taste like. What do you notice?
- Consider the following prompts as you reflect on on your observation experience (this can be done on your own or with someone else):
- What surprised you about making observations like this?
- What feelings arose?
- Why is it important to make careful observations?
- After observing one small object, how do you think you could use these same skills to observe a whole landscape?
- How can you use these observation skills everyday?
Age Adaptations:Younger audiences: Start the observation process by making 2-3 “I notice…, I wonder…., It reminds me of…” statements. Older audiences: Take your observations to the next level by recording them in your journal. Take time to draw your object from different perspectives. Pay special attention to color, scale, and shape and record as much detail as possible. How does recording what you notice in such detail add to your level of observation? How do you think this practice is used in the scientific community?
Extensions:Observation Progressions: After completing this lesson, check out our Sit Spot Lesson for making in-depth observations. Field Journaling: Using a field journal can be a powerful tool for making observations. The next time you head outside or want to learn more about something, take a moment to draw it in your field journal with all of your observations. Conducting Investigations: Now that you’ve practiced your observation skills, take it to the next level by designing and conducting your own science investigation!
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