Naturalists & Behavioral Scientists: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Think about how much cool information there is out there about living things. Many of those facts can be accredited to naturalists and behavioral scientists. Come and learn more about what they do, and discover a few famous ones from history.

What Is a Naturalist?

Do you love studying nature? Well, then you just might want to consider being a naturalist when you grow up. This is a type of scientist who studies plants and animals.

Naturalists focus a lot of their time and efforts on scientific research. For example, natural historians study ancient human being species' physical characteristics, like their bone structure or facial features. Botanists are naturalists that only study plants. They do things like identify different types of trees or determine what a specific type of plant needs to survive in its environment.

A botanist at work
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Naturalists frequently take what they have learned and use it to educate the public about their findings. Don't be mistaken though - naturalists aren't always cooped up in a lab or library. Often times, you can find them where their name comes from: in nature!

What Is a Behavioral Scientist?

Behavioral scientists are very similar to naturalists in that they also study living things. However, they focus solely on the actions and choices that those living things make. In other words, they look at how animals and human beings behave and interact with others. Zoologists are one type of behavioral scientist that only studies animals. What a cool job!

Check out this behavioral scientist studying the behavior of a turtle!
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Psychologists are also behavior scientists, but they work to help human beings cope with the world around them. They do a lot of work with mental illnesses, as well. Counselors and social workers are also examples of behavioral scientists, as are anthropologists. Their job is pretty awesome because they get to look at how human beings lived a long, long time ago. Anthropologists also take a deeper look at the different cultures around the world and how culture impacts the human experience.

Famous Naturalists & Behavioral Scientists

Charles Darwin
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There have been many incredible naturalists and behavioral scientists over the years who have paved the way for future generations. Some lived a long time ago, and some are still working today. Here are a few standout examples:

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