What did scientists write in their notebooks? It’s easy to make wild assumptions, but why do that? Readily available online are scans of scientists who worked for the Smithsonian Institution over the last 150 years in the Field Book Project.

My STEAM Notebook: Helping Kids Write About Their Observations | MimsHouse.com

Our book, MY STEAM NOTEBOOK: 150 Years of Primary Source Documents from American Scientists, uses the field books to help kids learn to write about their own observations in a science notebook.

It begins with Alexander Wetmore, an ornithologist or bird scientist, who was also the Secretary (the person in charge) of the Smithsonian Institute from 1945-1952. He left many notebooks, photos, and specimen with the Smithsonian.

Wetmore started writing science notebooks when he was only eight years old! While on a Florida vacation, he saw a pelican and wrote about it.

From Alexander Wetmore's 8-year old journal. He's writing about seeing a pelican.
“There are a great many pelicans around here. A pelican is a great big bird that eats fish…” From the Smithsonian Institution archives.

At the age of 15, his first published article, “My Experience with a Red-headed Woodpecker” appeared in the 1900 Bird Lore magazine.

During his travels to Panama and other places, Wetmore brought back 26,058 bird and mammal skins. He write a book, The Birds of the Republic of Panama, writing bout 189 species and sub-species of birds that were new to science. Over his lifetime, over 56 new genera, species, and subspecies of birds (both recent and fossils) were named in his honor.

Wetmore kept lists of birds he saw in a single month, or in a year. Listing is a simple writing exercise for students working in their science notebooks. They can easily write lists about their observations.

Download the Wetmore section of My STEAM NOTEBOOK

We could continue telling you about Wetmore, but instead, we’re making available a special excerpt from My STEAM Notebook. The Wetmore excerpt includes the how to use this notebook explanation, Alexander Wetmore information, notebook pages for students to work, suggestions for related STEAM activities, a reproduction of his first published article and more. Add your email below and we’ll immediately send you the pdf.

Alexander Wetmore, ornithologist, and his scientific notebooks.
Page1 of Wetmore section of My Steam Notebook.
Alexander Wetmore as featured in My STEAM Notebook.
Page 2 of Wetmore section of My Steam Notebook


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