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Informal Science

Incorporating science in a family vacation trip

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Sac Nicte Garza Sac Nicte Garza 225 Points

How can I as a mother and futre teacher can integrate science to family trips, and then be able to teach my experiences to students?

Emily Faulconer Emily Faulconer 5755 Points

My homeschooling mom friends are amazing at this! For the older kids, they let them take lead. They set out certain objectives, but the older kids choose the path of their learning on the trip. For younger kids, they have more concrete tasks and activities planned out before they go. 

Melissa Biddinger Melissa Biddinger 435 Points

Hi Sac,

I am a preservice teacher, and I am currently taking a course on how to teach science topics to early childhood students.  One of our assigned readings for the class is called The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson.  Her poetic and elegant writing is combined with beautiful nature images and photographs where one of the main messages she tries to send to readers is to enjoy the simplicity of nature and experience it with all of your senses.  This idea can most certainly be applied to family vacations. 

I used to go to Ocean City with my family every summer.  As we walked on the beach, we would simply listen to the waves crash on the shore and the seagulls as they scavenged for food.  While walking on Montego Bay, we listened to geese as they honked and smelled the salty sea air.  Sometimes I think adults get caught up on trying to take every moment to teach young children about specific names of plants and animals where we sometimes forget that observation and experiencing nature can be just as powerful.  As you go on family vacations with your children, encourage them to just listen to all the sounds around them and pay attention to what they smell and feel.  Let them uninhibitedly explore the environment where they pay attention to details they may not have otherwise noticed, such as the veins on a leaf or moss growing on a rock.   Take pictures of the things you observe and collect leaves and other natural samples to share with your class. 

With your students, have them go on nature walks around the school where they observe and experience the nature around them.  Encourage them to draw and/or write what they smell, see, and feel.  You could even share the experiences you had on vacation and have students compare their observations of the school environment with yours.  This could eventually lead to a lesson on different habitats.



Hayle Gaul Hayle Gaul 1715 Points


A great way to integrate science into family trips is by making them exciting and have deep discussions. I recommend taking many photos as well as videos to give your students an experience that is authentic. Know your curriculum and how you can tie the things you have planned on your trip rather than how you can tie your trip to standards. Teaching is really impacting, but we need our vacations sometimes. 

Hope this helps!


Daniela Sepulveda Daniela 630 Points


I suggest integrating science into family trips by observing nature, discussing phenomena, and asking questions. Document experiences through photos, journals, or sketches. Later, share and discuss these real-world observations with students, encouraging them to explore scientific concepts based on their own experiences. Use hands-on activities, discussions, and reflective exercises to connect family adventures with classroom learning. This approach fosters a personal and relatable connection to science for both you and your students, making the subject more engaging and meaningful.

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10275 Points


As teachers, we’re always on the prowl for ideas and resources for our classrooms. You can tell who the teachers are at amusements parks (figuring out the physics principles at work), on the beach (identifying shells and other critters), and on the hiking trails at state and national parks (with binoculars and guidebooks or ID apps). We take (drag?) our families and friends to museums, science centers, zoos, nature centers, botanical gardens, and arboretums. Even at historical sites, we can find applications of science to share with our students (for example, while my husband and I were exploring the history of the Gettysburg Battlefield, I was also photographing the lichens on the monuments). We stop the car to photograph interesting rock outcrops or fantastic cloud formations. Our souvenirs include rocks, sand samples, fossils, pressed wildflowers, maps, brochures, books, and thoughts and reflections about improving what we teach. (Be sure to follow local procedures about sample-collecting, though. Photographs are good!)

My husband got used to the fact that our vacations always had a science component! And I enjoyed sharing my experiences with students.

Mary B.

Megan Doty Megan Doty 11847 Points

Hi everyone,

Mary, I completely agree. You can take pictures of your travel adventures and then make a short video to show your students when you are back! Maybe you could even incorporate Google Maps to display the route you took and why you chose to do so.

I also wonder if you might be able to schedule a video conference with any scientists or museums that may be out of your area? 

I hope your students have fun!


Christy Beatty Christy Beatty 305 Points

As a mother of a 3rd grader and teacher (almost!!) I really struggle with finding time for everything. I really, really like this idea of gathering science information while on vacation. I can engage my son in it, while making memories I can also test out the information on him. It is sort of like getting a review before the actual presentation!! What better way to gain knowledge then through a child?!?!?!

Elizabeth Steele Elizabeth Steele 445 Points

I love this question!

    On family vacations, I would ask, 'where am I seeing science?' Think deeply about where you are seeing simple and complex science concepts all around you. Ask 'why?' Why do ferris wheels work? Why does the tide move in and out? Why do seagulls live at the ocean? Why is moss only on one side of this tree? I would suggest taking pictures of the examples of science you see and then researching the answers to your 'why' questions. Then, you could share the pictures and questions with your class either in the appropriate unit or at a special time of the time. Allow them to try and answer the questions before either sharing your research or having them find their own. The world around us is full of science and I love that you are taking something personal and normal, a family vacation, and creating a learning oppertunity!

          Lizzy Steele

Jaretsi Robledo Jaretsi Robledo 190 Points

Hi, Morgan perhaps you can start off by making some observations and inferences about your surrondings that relates to science. Some of the questions can be as easy as 'What do you think will happen if this happens..' or 'What can you tell me about this item' This will help both the child and yourself to start questioning the nature of science.

Iona Humphries Iona Humphries 415 Points

I think that a great way to integrate science into family trips is to make it fun, exciting, and to relate it to the trip that you're on. Older kids don't need as much instruction - they should be encouraged to ask questions themselves, set objectives and find evidence. Younger kids should be guided, and should be asked more inquiry-based questions to get their minds thinking!



Mitch Gola Mitch 20 Points

Hey! As a fellow science enthusiast, I love the idea of incorporating science into family vacations. One way you can do this is by visiting nature reserves or national parks, where you can explore different ecosystems, identify plants and animals, and discuss environmental concepts. Additionally, science museums and planetariums are great stops to learn about fascinating scientific phenomena. To take it a step further, keep a travel journal where you can document your observations, conduct simple experiments, and take photos for later classroom discussions. You can also use for reliable travel schedules and information.

Kristine Rowland Kristine Rowland 2290 Points

Hi, I think incorporating science into family trips is a great idea. My first step would be to learn and understand your standards, goals, and learning intentions.  Take lots of photos. These can be used later if you decide to make a presentation of your trip. There are tons of great places to visit that don't cost a lot of money. I would look for parks, trails, waterfalls, museums, animal conservations and rehabilitation places. Some of the rehabilitation places are not crowded and you can get up close to ask questions. And remember, science is everywhere. I took my kids to Fort Morgan- more of a social studies trip. However, we compared rock and sand samples to where we live in Georgia. My point being, it doesn't necessarily have to be a 'science' place to find scientific findings. 

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