How To: Start a Field Journal


June 11, 2020
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If you don’t have one already, a field journal is a must-have for any budding scientist! Field journals are used by all different types of scientists (such as paleontologists, geologists, biologists and many others) in order to record and keep track of the things they learn and observe while working out in the field. These journals can be extremely important, not only for the person who writes the journal, but also to other scientists who may use the journal as a resource later down the line. Scientists share their notes to help spread ideas and collaborate to solve problems.

The cool thing about field journals is that there’s really no wrong way to keep them– as long as it makes sense to you, it works! Some scientists keep detailed, bulleted notes about each thing they observe. Others may sketch what they see or things they find interesting, while other still may jot down quick thoughts to help them remember something later.

If you have a notebook laying around the house, that could be a great field journal. If not, don’t worry! All you need is some paper and a stapler, tape or even some string. Stack the paper and hold it in half (“hamburger-style”). Staple or use yarn/string along the crease to hold the pages together and voilà! You have a field journal. You can decorate the front page to create a cover and you’re ready to go.

Now you must be wondering, what do I even write in a field journal? Anything and everything! Things you learn, questions you want to answer, all of the things you notice and observe around you. If you haven’t already, check out this backyard scavenger hunt. This is a great opportunity to test out your observation and note-taking skills. Once you’ve found/made your field journal, grab a pen or pencil and head outside to start your adventure.

If outside isn’t a great option for you, then instead take a virtual tour of HMNS with this link! Start with whatever interests you the most and as you take a tour through that hall. Take notes about the things you notice and about the artifacts you see. Jot down some questions you want to find the answers to, sketch your favorite dinosaur or make some notes about the things you learn about the different artifacts in the museum.

Good luck with your adventuring (whether in the backyard or on your virtual tour) and let us know what you discover in the comments!

Jayme Schlimper
Authored By Jayme Schlimper

Jayme joined the Museum team in 2015 as a Youth Education intern and has loved every minute of it! She was hired full-time in Fall of 2016 and realized that cuddling bugs and teaching kids about science are pretty much the best things ever!

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