Family Science Learning Overview

Use this tool to make observations that you can use to brainstorm neighborhood “Should We” questions. Then select a neighborhood “Should We” question that your family wants to focus on and create an initial model of that helps you understand what phenomena are involved in answering the “Should We” question. You can use the activity sheet provided, or use blank sheets of paper.


This is a three-part activity.

  •  Part 1: Go on a walk and make observations about the ways that people seem to be making decisions in your neighborhood. You will need to observe these decisions indirectly. Use those observations to brainstorm “Should We” questions.
  •  Part 2: From your list of neighborhood “Should We” questions, decide on one that your family wants to focus on. Discuss important parts of your question.
  • Part 3: Create an initial model of your family’s “Should We” question. Extension activity ideas are listed on page 5 of the activity sheet.

What Can You Do To Support Learning?

  • If family members are finding it difficult to think about the different elements of your neighborhood “Should We” question, you can ask them questions like:
    • What have people built or placed in our neighborhood? Who has it impacted?
    • Who and what (for example, animals, plants, people, elements like water and the sun, and/or human-made artifacts) are involved in our “Should We” question?
    • How are the “who” and “what” we have identified specific to our neighborhood?
    • What types of relationships are the “who” and “what” in with each other, and with place?   
  • The initial model that your family constructs in Part 3 of this activity is a way of explaining who and what are involved in your “Should We” question and how they are in relationship with each other. If family members need help with modeling, you can start by brainstorming all of the places and things (for example, animals including humans, plants, water, rocks) that are involved in your “Should We” question. Then ask them to draw those places and things, as well as how those places and things are connected and why. 

Activity Sheets

Connecting with Other Families

Share “Should We” questions and initial models with other family members and friends, explaining them to each other and explaining why they are important and related to your neighborhoods.

Connect to Other Activities

Learning in Places Frameworks to Consider

  • Socio-Ecological Deliberation and Decision Making 
  • Modeling Socio-Ecological Phenomena
Example of family LE 5.C
Example Part 1
LE 5 part 2
Example Part 2
Example of LE 5.C part 3
Example part 3