Note to Educators

The Forest Service's Mission

The Forest Service’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. For more than 100 years, our motto has been “caring for the land and serving people.” The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), recognizes its responsibility to be engaged in efforts to connect youth to nature and to promote the development of science-based conservation education programs and materials nationwide.

USDA and Forest Service Logos

What Is the Natural Inquirer?

Natural Inquirer is a science education resource journal to be used by students in grade 6 and up. Natural Inquirer contains articles describing environmental and natural resource research conducted by Forest Service scientists and their cooperators. These scientific journal articles have been reformatted to meet the needs of middle school students. The articles are easy to understand, are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, contain glossaries, and include hands-on activities. The goal of Natural Inquirer is to stimulate critical reading and thinking about scientific inquiry and investigation while teaching about ecology, the natural environment, and natural resources.

Natural Inquirer bee sitting at a desk with paper and pencil

  • Meet the Scientists

    Introduces students to the scientists who did the research. This section may be used in a discussion about careers in science.

  • What Kinds of Scientist Did This Research?

    Introduces students to the scientific disciplines of the scientists who conducted the research.

  • Thinking About Science

    Introduces something new about the scientific process, such as a scientific habit of mind or procedures used in scientific studies.

  • Thinking About the Environment

    Introduces the environmental topic being addressed in the research.

  • Introduction

    Introduces the problem or question that the research addresses.

  • Method

    Describes the method the scientists used to collect and analyze their data.

  • Findings & Discussion

    Describes the results of the analysis. Addresses the findings and places them into the context of the original problem or question.

  • Reflection Section

    Presents questions aimed at stimulating critical thinking about what has been read or predicting what might be presented in the next section. These questions are placed at the end of each of the main article sections.

  • Number Crunches

    Presents an easy math problem related to the research.

  • Glossary

    Defines potentially new scientific or other terms to students. The first occurrence of a glossary word is bold in the text.

  • Citation

    Gives the original article citation with an internet link to the original article.

  • FACTivity

    Presents a hands-on activity that emphasizes something presented in the article.

Science Education Standards

You will find a listing of education standards which are addressed by each article at the back of each publication and on our website.

We Welcome Feedback

  • Contact

    Jessica Nickelsen
    Director, Natural Inquirer program