Family Science Learning Overview

Pick a place outside in your neighborhood. Observe that place (what do you see, hear, and smell, for example). Think about different time scales to deepen your observations.

For example, what are you noticing that might be related to geologic time? What are you noticing that might be related to plant, animal, and soil time? Then consider how human decision making has contributed to changes in the place.


This is a two-part activity.

  • Part 1: Go for a walk in your neighborhood. Make observations, and ask questions about what you wonder about as you observe (there is no “right” answer). You can use the two-page activity sheet provided or a blank piece of paper to write and draw observations, questions, and ideas.
  • Part 2: Think about your observations from different time scales (see page 2 of the activity sheet). What did you observe related to some or all of these time scales? What questions do you have? How has human-decision making impacted this place from each time scale? Again, there are no “right” answers. 
  • Extension ideas: You can learn more about various time scales by using books, videos, the Internet, and by asking other people. Once you learn more about these time scales, what new questions do you have about the observations you made and the place you explored? Another extension idea is to take another walk to a different place and make observations there using the different time scales as lenses.

What Can You Do To Support Learning?

  • The goal of this activity is to practice making observations in specific places, and to use different time scales to deepen your observations. 
  •  Ask questions throughout this activity to encourage family members to make and share their observations. For example, ask what they see, hear, and smell. If they have been to this place before, ask them to share what they notice that is the same and what they notice that is different (and why they think that is). What questions do they have about what they are noticing? Which time scales do they want to learn more about given what they are observing in the place? 
  • Consider how the places have changed over time and why. How have the decisions people made contributed to this change? Which people made choices? Why did they make those choices?

Activity Sheet

Connecting with Other Families

Ask other family members and friends to participate in this activity. You can share your observations and questions from your walks. You can also share what you noticed and wondered about relative to the different time scales.

Connect to Other Activities

Learning in Places Frameworks to Consider

Family sharing places example