Family Science Learning Overview

Use this activity to help you focus your walk on the places, lands, and waters around you, which is important for field-based science learning.

Noticing the details of place allows for a deeper understanding about socio-ecological systems. In this walk, you might notice the shape of the land and how it affects the flow of water. Or, you might notice how particular species choose to live in specific places– like high up in a tree or near water–and wonder why that is. You might also notice how humans have changed the land and what effect that has on the kinds of species you see in your neighborhood.


  • Use the activity sheet to guide your thinking while you walk. You can copy the sheet on a piece of paper or try using a journal to collect your observations over time. 
  • Look for something interesting you notice about places, lands and waters and draw or write what you see. 
  • If any new questions come up, write them down and come back to them later.

What Can You Do To Support Learning?

  • Use water to guide your observations. For example, ask your family to imagine how they might move across the landscape if they were a raindrop. Where do you see water? Why do you think it’s in this place? What plants and animals are gathering in what places? Why do you think so?
  • Try finding the highest point in your neighborhood, and look out on the horizon. Look closely at the ground you are walking on, and look for different textures in the earth. Look out at the horizon. What do you notice? What is the shape of the land? Look closely at the ground. What do you see? 
  • Think about scales of time, and ask your family: How did this place come to be this way? Has it always been this way? Will it always be this way? Who lived here before, and who might live here after us?

Activity Sheet

Connecting with Other Families

Look on a map at where your friends live. Email them and tell them how you are connected by the water. Take pictures of what you observed and share with other families. What can you learn from each other about the places, lands and waters?

Connect to Other Activities

LE 3 Taking a focused walk together

  • Extension ideas: Look at a map of your local watershed before you head out. While you walk,  look for the water and notice where it’s coming from and where it’s going.

Learning in Places Frameworks to Consider

  • Complex Socio-ecological Systems Reasoning
  • Places, Lands, & Waters
  • Observation and Data Collection