Informal Science

Incorporating science in a family vacation trip

How can I as a mother and futre teacher can integrate science to family trips, and then be able to teach my experiences to students?

Sac Nicte Garza
Sac Nicte Garza
225 Activity Points

My homeschooling mom friends are amazing at this! For the older kids, they let them take lead. They set out certain objectives, but the older kids choose the path of their learning on the trip. For younger kids, they have more concrete tasks and activities planned out before they go. 

Emily Faulconer
Emily Faulconer
1820 Activity Points

Hi Sac,

I am a preservice teacher, and I am currently taking a course on how to teach science topics to early childhood students.  One of our assigned readings for the class is called The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson.  Her poetic and elegant writing is combined with beautiful nature images and photographs where one of the main messages she tries to send to readers is to enjoy the simplicity of nature and experience it with all of your senses.  This idea can most certainly be applied to family vacations. 

I used to go to Ocean City with my family every summer.  As we walked on the beach, we would simply listen to the waves crash on the shore and the seagulls as they scavenged for food.  While walking on Montego Bay, we listened to geese as they honked and smelled the salty sea air.  Sometimes I think adults get caught up on trying to take every moment to teach young children about specific names of plants and animals where we sometimes forget that observation and experiencing nature can be just as powerful.  As you go on family vacations with your children, encourage them to just listen to all the sounds around them and pay attention to what they smell and feel.  Let them uninhibitedly explore the environment where they pay attention to details they may not have otherwise noticed, such as the veins on a leaf or moss growing on a rock.   Take pictures of the things you observe and collect leaves and other natural samples to share with your class. 

With your students, have them go on nature walks around the school where they observe and experience the nature around them.  Encourage them to draw and/or write what they smell, see, and feel.  You could even share the experiences you had on vacation and have students compare their observations of the school environment with yours.  This could eventually lead to a lesson on different habitats.

 

~Melissa

Melissa Biddinger
Melissa Biddinger
435 Activity Points

Greetings!

As teachers, we’re always on the prowl for ideas and resources for our classrooms. You can tell who the teachers are at amusements parks (figuring out the physics principles at work), on the beach (identifying shells and other critters), and on the hiking trails at state and national parks (with binoculars and guidebooks or ID apps). We take (drag?) our families and friends to museums, science centers, zoos, nature centers, botanical gardens, and arboretums. Even at historical sites, we can find applications of science to share with our students (for example, while my husband and I were exploring the history of the Gettysburg Battlefield, I was also photographing the lichens on the monuments). We stop the car to photograph interesting rock outcrops or fantastic cloud formations. Our souvenirs include rocks, sand samples, fossils, pressed wildflowers, maps, brochures, books, and thoughts and reflections about improving what we teach. (Be sure to follow local procedures about sample-collecting, though. Photographs are good!)

My husband got used to the fact that our vacations always had a science component! And I enjoyed sharing my experiences with students.

Mary B.

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
8235 Activity Points

Hi everyone,

Mary, I completely agree. You can take pictures of your travel adventures and then make a short video to show your students when you are back! Maybe you could even incorporate Google Maps to display the route you took and why you chose to do so.

I also wonder if you might be able to schedule a video conference with any scientists or museums that may be out of your area? 

I hope your students have fun!

-Megan

Megan Doty
Megan Doty
9957 Activity Points

As a mother of a 3rd grader and teacher (almost!!) I really struggle with finding time for everything. I really, really like this idea of gathering science information while on vacation. I can engage my son in it, while making memories I can also test out the information on him. It is sort of like getting a review before the actual presentation!! What better way to gain knowledge then through a child?!?!?!

Christy Beatty
Christy Beatty
305 Activity Points

I love this question!

    On family vacations, I would ask, "where am I seeing science?" Think deeply about where you are seeing simple and complex science concepts all around you. Ask "why?" Why do ferris wheels work? Why does the tide move in and out? Why do seagulls live at the ocean? Why is moss only on one side of this tree? I would suggest taking pictures of the examples of science you see and then researching the answers to your "why" questions. Then, you could share the pictures and questions with your class either in the appropriate unit or at a special time of the time. Allow them to try and answer the questions before either sharing your research or having them find their own. The world around us is full of science and I love that you are taking something personal and normal, a family vacation, and creating a learning oppertunity!

          Lizzy Steele

Elizabeth Steele
Elizabeth Steele
255 Activity Points

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