4 points to keep in mind while noting observations
Updated: Mar 25, 2021
This is part 2 of a series of blogs to enumerate habits essential to building scientific temper in students. You can read our blog on making observations here. This week we focus on noting observations.
Once we have primed a child to observe, communicated expectations and criteria, and talked about the importance of patience, it is now time for the child to observe and note observations. And as we said last time, it is only when we note observations that we can notice nuances, patterns and oddities that enable us to come up with important questions that can improve our understanding of and connect with the world.
Here are 4 points to keep in mind.
1. Make relevant resources available
As a child makes observations, it is important for her to have the necessary resources handy to note observations or thoughts that come to mind. These include stationery items such a notebook or loose paper, and pencils, pens or crayons. Similarly, it is important to have handy other resources specific to the type of observation, such as binoculars, a magnifying glass or even a simple phone camera to record observations.
2. Provide a format for notes
Depending on the criteria for observation, it is useful to provide a format for notetaking. If you simply want the child to observe and come up with observations, you can give the child a sheet of paper with two columns – one to note observations and the other to note related questions.
If you want the child to observe something specific, giving a relevant graphic organiser is useful. For example, if you want the child to observe how the beaks of a sparrow and a kite are similar and different, you can provide a Venn diagram. To observe how leaves react to different stimuli, you can provide a cause-and-effect diagram.
3. Allow for free expression
Children think and express in different ways. While an overall format for notetaking is useful, it is best to allow children to note their observations in their own ways. For example, some children might prefer to draw the differences in beaks, while others may write bullet points, and some others may write descriptive paragraphs. When children are not constrained by forms of expression they are not comfortable with, they can focus better on making observations and noting them in detail.
4. Provide time during and after the observation
Children must make detailed notes as they observe, as that is when they can take note of all the details they think necessary and cross-check their notes with the actual event. It is also important to provide time after the observation to read their notes, write questions that come to mind, and reflect on the experience. As they spend this quiet time, they can make connections or notice gaps that they may not have during the actual observation. Such reflection exercises are a crucial habit for all scientists.
STEM projects and activities in unboxED always begin with children making and noting observations. The STEM manual includes structured formats for noting observations in the form of tables, lists and drawings.
unboxED offers the child and educator resources to build a growth mindset while exploring Literacy and STEM concepts through conversations and creation, and letting kids be kids. These products have been built keeping in mind the academic and cognitive skills needed at various stages of the child’s development.