Lab Coats Optional

Field scientists at work

We developed these three video clips for use by high school teachers with their students. With these videos, we hope to:

  • Provide a window into the process of scientific inquiry as a field scientist.
  • Introduce relevant and engaging content that can be followed up on by teachers or students.
  • Elicit new perspectives about what a scientist does and what a scientist looks like.

Below, we provide correlations to NGSS standards, vocabulary, and additional information along with links to each of the videos. We also provide suggested student discussion questions that can be used with any of these videos (at the bottom).

Retweeting the Forest

Relevant NGSS Standards
Interdependent Relationships: HS-LS-1, HS-LS-2, HS-LS-6, HS-LS-8
Inheritance and Variation of Traits: HS-LS3-3


climate change: significant and persistent change in an area’s average climate conditions or their extremes
habitat: ecological location where a particular organism lives
land-use: human use and management of land
biodiversity: degree of variation of life
variable: a testable component of a scientific study which is either kept constant, changed intentionally, or a measured effect of change.
wildlife ecology: study of animal populations in their habitat

For Additional Information, see:


Fun dye with Fungi

Relevant NGSS Standards
Matter and Energy in Organisms and Ecosystems: HS-LS1-6
Inheritance and Variation of Traits: HS-LS3-2
Natural Selection and Evolution: HS-LS-4-4


fungi: an eukaryotic kingdom of life that includes yeast, molds, and mushrooms which have cell walls and are known for decomposition and fermentation
spalting: a form of wood coloration caused by fungi
synthetic: a material made by chemical processing, not of natural origin
pigment: a material that changes the color of reflected or transmitted light (color)
pure culture: a lab culture containing a single species of organism
tropical: region of the Earth surrounding the Equator

For Additional Information, see:


New Eyes on the Sky

Relevant NGSS Standards
Earth’s Systems: HS-ESS2-2 HS-ESS2-4
Human Sustainability: HS-ESS-1, HS-ESS-2, HS-ESS-4
Engineering design: HS-ETS1-2,


remote sensing: process of obtaining information about an object or an area from a large distance away
resource management: refers to the management of natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals, in particular the management of the way in which people and natural landscapes interact
imagery: a visual graphic or picture
sensor: a device that detects a particular variable, and generates an output of information.
infrared: an electromagnetic wavelength that is just beyond the red of the visible light spectrum
resolution: the degree of sharpness of a digital image
wildfire: an uncontrolled fire in a natural area

For Additional Information, see:

Dr. Death

Coming soon - a video about Dr. Mark Harmon and his 200-year log decomposition experiment.

Morticulture: Forests of the Living Dead


Discussion questions to consider while watching ANY Lab Coats Optional Video:

  1. What is the primary QUESTION that the scientist is trying to answer?
  2. How is the scientist going about answering their primary question? In other words, what is their METHOD or APPROACH?
  3. What specific things is the scientist measuring or collecting data on?
  4. Describe some of the EVIDENCE that the scientist has collected.
  5. Based on the collected evidence, what CLAIM is the scientist making?
  6. What did you find interesting about their field study?
  7. What type of science most interests you? Why?
  8. What kinds of jobs are there in the field of science that you might enjoy?

Looking for more resources featuring different kinds of science and scientists? Check out Nova’s program, The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers and the Scientists' Card Series featured on the Natural Inquirer website.

Thank you to the Oregon State University College of Forestry for providing funding for this project. Thank you also to Jessie Kneisler, Sherwood High School Teacher for co-developing this guide.