I've realized over several tutoring sessions that observing live, real organisms is a far more enriching way to learn about nature. Seeing the way animals are built, how they move, and where they live are much more informative than illustrations in books, paragraphs of texts, or specimens preserved in jars. Watching live animals in aquariums, terrariums, or zoos is intellectually stimulating as well as fun. Even better is getting out into the natural world and witnessing life in action. Some of my own favorite college courses had considerable field trip components, where us students put our knowledge to use in identifying, describing, and learning more about the plants, animals, and geologic features of California's diverse landscape. Observation is the first step in any scientific process, and so the more observation one makes, the better scientist they'll be. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a real living organism is worth an encyclopedia. To the old adage "stop... read more
Today it was great to see today's Google logo (viewable at http://www.google.com/doodles/nicolas-stenos-374th-birthday) transformed into fossil-bearing rock strata, in honor of the 374th birthday of Nicolas Steno, the 17th Century scientist who pioneered the concept of stratigraphy- that lower rock layers are older than the layers above them- and that fossils are the result of once-living organisms, not "rocks striving to resemble life". Steno's contributions to the scientific method paved the way for modern geology and paleontology. Way to go Steno, way to go Google!