Inquiring and Investigating with Scientists in the Forest Service

The US Forest Service offers a variety of science education materials for prekindergarten through grade 12. Among the offerings are Natural Inquirer, a free science education journal written for middle school and high school students, and NSI: Nature Science Investigator, a free self-guided activity book designed for youth aged 8–14.

Natural Inquirer was created so that scientists could share their research with students. Each standards-aligned article in Natural Inquirer follows the same format as a scientific journal article by including an Introduction, Methods, Findings & Discussion, and Reflection (questions aimed at stimulating critical thinking). Additionally, each article has a Meet the Scientist section, Thinking About Science section, and Thinking About the Environment section, as well as a Glossary (definitions of scientific or other terms that may be new to the student), Number Crunches (easy math problems related to the research), and a FACTivity (hands-on activity that reinforces a concept from the article).

NSI: Nature Science Investigator, designed for upper elementary students, is similar in format to Natural Inquirer. NSI: Nature Science Investigator was created as an outreach to nonformal education settings such as campgrounds and environmental education facilities. NSI introduces students to different types of natural resource scientists and then provides activities for students to conduct that are similar to those of the highlighted scientists. For example, students meet an ornithologist and then engage in a birding activity. The hands-on activity enables each child to become the scientist!

Plus: FSNatureLIVE, Natural Inquirer’s distance learning adventures, brings nature learning to participants through a series of webcasts, webinars, and online education resources. No matter where someone is in the world, they can visit Natural Inquirer’s LIVE programs for exciting, onsite learning about bats, butterflies, climate change, wetlands, and more!

Students can also view Natural Inquirer’s past LIVE programs. One past program is a virtual learning adventure in which students in upper elementary, middle school, and high school learn about the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of nature. They can also watch the Q&A with experts who answered viewer-submitted questions.

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