What’s a Survey?
Simply stated, a survey is an overview of the living things in an area. The purpose of a survey is to get a general idea of the types of living things in that area, a step in scientific inquiry that will then (likely) lead to more focused questions about the living things there.
Why Conduct a Survey?
An animals survey can be a powerful, yet simple, outdoor-based learning task. With only a few minutes a day, several big scientific and educational ideas can be addressed:
- For students (and teachers) new to nature study, a survey provides an easy focus for outdoor excursions.
- Completing the survey allows students to practice collecting, organizing and interpreting data — an important science and numeracy skill.
- Using an organized list to answer a question is an important problem-solving strategy.
- Students working together with one clipboard and survey fosters discourse on scientific thinking.
- Conducting a series of observations on the same focus guides students to look for patterns over time.
- Looking for a particular type of living thing helps students hone their observation skills.
- Exposure to nature on a regular basis can engage learners, especially those who don’t have the opportunity to get outside often.
- Increasing students’ activity level by the inclusion of outdoor studies can fight childhood obesity.
- Working with a table of data gives students practice in using non-fiction text features – an important literacy skill.
- Gathering initial observations and data is an important step in both the inquiry and engineering design processes.
Sample Animal Surveys
The above survey sheet can be used for amphibian surveys. or a generic animal survey can be used.
For examples of nature studies involving animal surveys, please click on the links, below:
- “Biomes: Teaching With the ‘One Small Square’ Series,” Simple Science Strategies
- “Frog-Hunting in Connecticut: Our 10 Frog Species,” A Child’s Garden
- “Project FeederWatch: A Great Program for Homeschoolers, Teachers and Other Bird Lovers,” Simple Science Strategies
- “Starting an Animal Survey: Winter Birds and Friends,” A Child’s Garden