Resources to help with field investigations

Outdoor experiences in nature increase students’ problem solving abilities and motivation to learn in social studies, science, language arts, and math. Conducting field investigations help students become systems thinkers, learn the skills of scientific inquiry, and understand that science doesn’t only happen in a laboratory or classroom.

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies developed “Field Investigations: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Practices” as a framework of scientific practices that scientists use in the field. The Guide was developed to help K-12 teachers (and those that work with them) introduce their students to the methodologies used for scientific field research and guide them through the process of conducting field investigations using these scientific practices.

This guide demonstrates how to use descriptive and comparative methodologies for field studies typically used in the environment and natural resource sectors. The guide addresses how the three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) may be used to integrate the field investigation scientific practices with real world content through crosscutting concepts that practicing field scientists and engineers tackle in their role as professionals.

macroinvertebratesField investigations

  • create an essential link between classroom activities and what students see and experience outside the school settings.
  • provide students with examples of how the science concepts they learn in class are used in everyday life.
  • encourage students to ask questions, explore, observe, and investigate their local environment through direct observation.

Field Investigations: Using Outdoor Environments to Foster Student Learning of Scientific Practices

  • Chapter 1 – Overview of alignment with Next Generation Science Standards and the field investigation process.
  • Chapter 2 – Preparing Students to Conduct Field Investigations includes determining which questions can be investigated and types on investigations
  • Chapter 3 – Building field investigations from student questions weaves the questions generated into 5E lessons.
  • Chapter 4 – Using data collected over time to identify patterns and relationships describes one teacher’s efforts to integrate an understanding (Kelsey, 2001) of ecological principles through the combined assessment of a stream’s physical characteristics, chemical conditions, and aquatic macroinvertebrate populations. The teacher incorporates a unique blend of background materials, testing protocols and classroom activities to prepare and facilitate the class (corporate) and student (individual/small group) investigations. In addition, a number of original resources have been developed to assist the students in the collection of data,
  • Chapter 5 – Case examples of field investigations in Washington schools.

The Project WILD and Aquatic WILD guides are for K-12 students and offer additional field investigations as well as activities that further develop skills in observation and analysis. These guides are available to Iowa educators through a training collaboration between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and ICEC. The training helps you connect local resources with proven activities. For more information, please contact us via email!

Additional resources to learn more about inquiry and project-based learning: