Natural Science Projects
Nature Bulletin No. 724 September 21, 1963
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Seymour Simon, President
Roberts Mann, Conservation Editor
NATURAL SCIENCE PROJECTS
Natural science projects have a dual purpose. One is based upon the
principle that people learn by doing. The other, based upon the innate
curiosity of children, is to channel that curiosity toward what they see
in the out-of-doors. The objective is to make them friends of things
that grow and become friends of the land upon which they and we
In any class the interests and aptitudes of the pupils vary considerably.
A teacher should not assign but should submit a variety of projects
from which, if so inclined, they may choose. However, then and later,
pupils may be stimulated or guided by suggestions from an inspiring
Our nature bulletins No. 609 and No. 610 suggest several "classroom
projects" -- such as Tree Diaries (discussed more fully in No. 406),
Vegetable Dyes, Hitchhikers, and Life in the Soil -- that appeal to
youngsters and have been proven educational.
Soil life and other projects designed to acquaint them with the soil, its
vital importance, how it is being depleted and lost, and how it may be
conserved, are discussed and programmed in "Soil and Water
Conservation Activities", an illustrated pamphlet (PA-391) issued by
the Soil Conservation Service of the USDA and obtainable from the
U.S. Government Printing Office.
Our bulletin No. 465 (Field Trips in Autumn) suggests numerous
projects utilizing insects, cocoons, spiders, leaves, fruits, nuts and
seeds that may be collected at this time of year. It recommends several
earlier bulletins valuable as reference material. Some of those
concerned with color changes and the losses of foliage on trees, shrubs
and vines, become more meaningful if correlated with daily
observations of temperatures, occurrence of frost, hours of sunlight,
rainfall and humidity.
In spring, such data is equally valuable in projects investigating the
activities of amphibians, the leafing and flowering of trees, the
blooming of wildflowers, and the arrival of birds.
Projects utilizing root vegetables and the seeds of other vegetables or
the seeds of fruits that can be grown in a classroom, are suggested in
our bulletin No. 684 (Kitchen Botany), which is taken from an article
by Blair Coursen in the August, 1961, issue of Turtox News published
by the General Biological Supply House in Chicago.
Some youngsters become interested in rocks end minerals. For their
use we recommend "Collecting Rocks and Minerals" (Hart Book Co. )
and "How to Know Minerals and Rocks", by Richard M. Pearl,
(McGraw-Hill). Since Illinois is among the leading producers of oil,
coal, limestone, clay, silica sand, and that unique mineral -- fluorspar -
- we recommend our bulletins about them, "Teaching Mineral
Conservation" (published by the Illinois Superintendent of Public
Instruction), and "Mineral Resources" (published by the Illinois Dept.
of Registration and Education).
Several autumn projects -- such as Hitchhikers and others involving
seed dispersal -- are described in two books we recommend to all
teachers: "Natural Science Through The Seasons", by J. A. Partridge
(published by the Macmillan Company Ltd. of Canada), and Wm.
Hillcourt's "Field Book of Nature Activities" (published by G. B.
The Popular Science Series and the Story of Illinois Series, published
by the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, furnish ideas and
reference material for many other science projects.
As a little tad said, "Every place you look there's somep'n to see."
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Update: June 2012