Life Skills

Brownie Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey Activity


Sharpen Your Observation Skills

Play a game to explore how scientists use observation to learn about our world. 

Activity Details

Time needed: 40 minutes

Materials needed:

  • 10-15 small items, such as keys, pens, coins, paperclips, small toys, etc.
  • A towel, blanket, or similar item to cover all the items at once
  • A blank sheet of paper
  • A pen or pencil


Scientists study nature to better understand how it works. They use what they learn to create solutions that help people, animals, and the environment. Scientists use a process called the scientific method to solve problems and learn new things.

One of the first steps of the scientific method is observation. Observation is watching and noticing something using all your senses, especially sight. It’s the start of every experiment and scientific discovery.


To get started, gather the listed materials and find a sibling, parent, or family member to be your partner.

Part 1: Identify quick changes.

Start by facing your partner.

Spend about 15 seconds looking at each other to remember every detail about the way you look. What do your partner’s clothes look like? Are they wearing jewelry? Pay super close attention!

Then turn around so you're standing back to back. Each of you should change one (just one!) thing about your appearance. For example, you may turn up your collar, take off your glasses, take off a ring, or roll down your socks.

Then turn around and face each other again. Can you see which change your partner made in how they look? Are they able to guess what you changed?

Observation is watching and noticing something using all of your senses, especially sight, to gather information. So when you just paid close attention to your partner, you were observing them to notice when something changed!

Part 2: Practice observation.

Observation is an important step for scientists when they want to understand something. They look closely at all the details. Sometimes scientists observe what they thought they would. Other times they're surprised!

For the next part of the activity, you’ll play another game to sharpen your observation skills!

First ask your partner to hide all the small items under the towel. Then ask them to uncover the items.

After they remove the towel, spend 30 seconds observing the items.

Have your partner cover the items again. How many you can remember?

Were you able to remember all the items? Brainstorm a few ways you could remember the items. For example, you could look at them longer or make a list.

Have your partner uncover the items for you to observe again. But this time, use your pencil and paper to make a list of the items.

After 30 seconds, have your partner cover the items. How many items you can remember? Were you able to remember more than the first time?

Do you think you would now notice when something changes? Have your partner lift the covering just enough to add or remove one item without you seeing.

Then have them uncover the items again for 30 seconds for you to observe. Make sure to write a list to help you remember!

After 30 seconds, have your partner cover the items. How many items you can remember this time? What was different? What was new or missing?

Repeat the game a few more times, having your partner add and remove items. After each round, see how many items you can remember. Can you remember them all? Can you notice what changes each time?

And that’s it! You’ve learned how to observe the world around you, just like a scientist. The next time you’re observing something, remember to look at the object from different angles. Go close and look for the tiny details. Then step back and think about how the object you're observing fits into everything around it; this will help you learn something new!

You’ve now completed part of the Brownie Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey! If you had fun doing this, you might want to learn more about the scientific method, participate in a citizen science project, or take action with the rest of the Brownie Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey. 

Troop Leaders:  The instructions for all badge steps are available free of charge in your  Girl Scout Volunteer Toolkit.

Girl Scouts at Home activities have been adapted from existing Girl Scout programming and optimized for use at home during a period of social distancing.

Adapted from the Brownie Think Like a Citizen Scientist, Part 1. Contact your troop leader or your local council to become a Girl Scout member and learn all the requirements needed to earn both the Brownie Think Like a Citizen Scientist award and the Brownie Take Action award