For many homeschooling families, nature study plays a significant role in the elementary years. Then, it gives way to more serious science in the high school years. However, nature study remains relevant for high school science.
Backyard nature study provides a chance for real-world application for biology and botany, but if you’d like to go more in-depth with your high school students, try these ideas!
Nature Study Ideas for Teens
1. Zoos and aquariums. Most zoos and aquariums have a volunteer program. Working with animals and marine life in a setting that focuses on conservation, breeding, and habitats provides an excellent way to learn about creatures that most of us aren’t going to encounter on an average nature walk.
2. Conservation projects. Your teens can learn about nature while taking part in a conservation project. Some ideas include:
- Participate in The Great Backyard Bird Count
- Volunteer as a sea turtle nest parent
- Clean up waterways
- Plant trees
- Build nesting boxes for birds, squirrels, or bats
3. National parks. There are 59 national parks in the United States. Visit as many of them as you can! Observe and journal the flora, fauna, wildlife, insects, and birds that you see at each. Some teens may be interested in internship opportunities that are available at some parks.
4. Hiking trips. With teens, you can plan more advanced hiking trips than you can with younger children. Consider some day or overnight trips or an extended trip such as hiking the Appalachian Trail.
5. Bird-watching. Bird-watching is a fantastic hobby for all ages, but teens can sit quietly for much longer periods than small children, making them ideal candidates for more advanced bird-watching outings.
6. Animal rescue or rehab centers. If you have an area animal rescue or rehab facility, your teen may want to check for volunteer opportunities – or you may just want to arrange a field trip to talk to the animal caretakers.
7. Snorkeling. If you live in an area where snorkeling is an option, consider taking advantage of the unique opportunity to see marine life in their natural habitat.
8. Camping or caving. Both offer a chance to see nature from a different perspective. Caving may allow you to observe unique mammals, such as bats. Camping offers stargazing opportunities, along with a chance to see nocturnal wildlife in action.
9. Gardening. Let teens plant and maintain their own flower, herb, or vegetable gardens. They can journal the various stages from seeds to mature plant.
10. Botanical gardens or butterfly houses. If the opportunities are available, your teens can visit or volunteer at a botanical garden or butterfly house. We have a local butterfly house, and that was one of the most fascinating field trips we’ve ever attended. Tell your teens to be sure to bring their natural journals along for visits.
What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate nature study for teens?