A "nature detective", or a naturalist, is a scientist that studies plants and animals in the world around them. They search for evidence that can help them discover how a particular animal might live in its natural habitat. Like detectives who solve crimes, nature detectives follow clues to answer questions like, “what happened?” “who was here?” or, “how are these things related?” They also may work in nature centers, zoos, parks and museums, educating people about nature and natural history.
The Discovery Center's Nature Detectives activity teaches children how to evaluate clues in nature through observing, classifying and using tools. They can use a magnifying glass, notebook, compass, ruler and field guides to aid them in looking more closely at clues like track prints, tufts of fur, food remains or animal scat.
Going on a nature exploration can help a child learn about relationships that animals have with each other and with the environment that they live in. It is important for naturalists to conduct their investigations with respect for the living creatures around them.