Learning To Take Scientific Notes
During the 1997-1999 Antarctic field seasons, scientists from Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom traveled to the Ross Sea near McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Their goal was to recover and analyze sediment cores from beneath the sea floor. The drill rig was set up on the Ross Sea ice near a small peninsula known as Cape Roberts, thus the project name is the Cape Roberts Project.
The cores were studied for two main reasons:
1) Use digital photographs of the core samples examined in the Cape Roberts Project to show students what scientists can study in geology. These can be accessed at:
2) Use overhead of Cape Roberts science notes to show an example of how these notes would be taken. Use overhead of "key" to show the various symbols used in these science notes. Explain that for this lesson, you will be using similar, but fewer notations.
3) Distribute student data collection pages, meter sticks and smaller metric rulers, plain white paper, and lengths of PVC pipe with edible sediment cores.
4) Students will examine sediment core and make notations on their data collection sheet that describe the various types of sediments, fossils, and glacial pebbles and cobbles in their section of core. These will be completed using the scale on the collection sheet. 5 cm of core equals 1 cm on the data sheet.
5) The teacher should circulate around the class to help with measurements, notations, and to answer questions. When the class period is over, collect all materials and edible core samples and store in a refrigerator until next class period. Each length of PVC pipe should be marked with the group member's names.
6) In a subsequent lesson, students can finish taking notes if they didn't finish in first lesson. In addition, each student in the group will mark their sediment core with a toothpick/flag to indicate where they would like to take a small sample. They take that sample, using a small cylindrical cookie cutter.
7) Students may eat their samples after examining them and after class discussion.
After students complete data collection sheets, discussion should focus on what they learned about taking accurate field notes and how important this is for scientists.