This month we’ve focused on books about scientific field work. What about the field work of a writer? Whether their subject matter is fact or fiction, frogs or fractals, writers have important research to do out in the field.
We all know that sensory details help to create a more engaging read, but how do you craft those sensory details? Research in the field!
Here is an exercise to help you with auditory information. It will train you to become more aware of the ever-present sounds around you, will help you gather specific sounds on site, and will strengthen your descriptions of sound qualities.
Creating a Sound Map
- Place yourself “in the field.”
- On a plain piece of paper draw the largest circle that will fit.
- Put a dot in the middle of the circle. The dot represents you. The circle represents the furthest edge of your hearing.
- When you hear a sound, record it on the map in relationship to the dot and the edge of your hearing.
- Record the sound as a word, color, shape or symbol – whatever represents it best.
- Try to indicate qualities of the sound: is it loud? moving? staccato? raspy? repeated?
- Continue listening until your map is full.
- Do you notice any trends in what you have recorded? Are there more human or natural sounds? Are there more sounds on one side? Why? Were their sounds that surprised you?
- Try writing about the sounds of this place in a descriptive paragraph.
Sound maps have become one of my favorite tools for collecting sensory data. Try them in a variety of places and you will grow your ability to enrich your writing about scientific field work.
Heather L. Montgomery writes for kids who are WILD about animals. She reads and writes while high in a tree, standing in a stream, or perched on a mountaintop boulder. www.HeatherLMontgomery.com
THE O.O.L.F. FILES
This month, The Out Of Left Field (O.O.L.F.) Files look at field work options for young people.
Want science you can do while fishing? Or at the beach? Or in a sports stadium? SciGirl has got you covered!
From tracking the seasons through tulips to tracking hummingbird migration, students can get busy collecting data with Journey North.
If you prefer to do field work from the comfort of your living room – or classroom – Zooniverse is for you. Tons of opportunities to help scientists spy on cheetahs, count cute seals, or train an algorithm to detect plastic on beaches.
Thanks so much for sharing this sound map idea. I just finished a conversation that included STEM and literacy connections, as well as Leonardo da Vinci and how he was grounded in observation, curiosity, and creativity. I find strong connections between those topics and the sound map.
Maps are so powerful! Map-making re-enforces observation skills. Besides that, it’s just great fun!