Hands On Learning
What is that?!!! How in the world??!!
I'm sure we've all had moments when we saw some amazing natural phenomenon, followed by the curiosity and wonder flooding our brain. So what do we do when this happens? How many people grab their smart phones or run to the laptop? Or even grab a field guide and then go even further to research at the library? I'll admit, I've done it too! The tools and ease of technology can be pretty addictive. And don't get me wrong, technology and textbooks are great resources to lean on when you're so anxious to have answers. But have you ever just thought, maybe I'll hang out and watch a little longer to see what happens next? As convenient as today's tools are, I'm just one of those people who don't like to replace the actual hands on, witness with my own eyes kind of education. Knowledge that becomes an experience and moments in nature that become memories.
In our modern world, with so many resources at our fingertips, more people truly need to stop and smell the flowers. If they did take five to ten minutes, can you imagine what they would actually observe? Not only would they see beautiful colors and smell delightful fragrances, but if they really took the time to see what is there, they would realize something miraculous is going on within the environment. The life that sits before them. The relationships and organisms that coexist with this simple flower. It is so lovely and delicate, yet complicated and essential. To study a bud blooming over a period of days, then watch the sweet chemistry between blossom and bee as they rely on one another to thrive and prosper. To inch ever so slowly for a better look, until noticing the enlarged sacks of pollen on the bee's legs. But for me, it is not only the act of noticing this solitary union, yet enveloping myself in the surroundings to awaken all of my senses. Feeling the soft breeze brush against my face while watching as the autumn leaves dance. Or the raindrops falling through the branches, then being absorbed by the thirsty landscape. Hearing the chirping of crickets and birds, and the frantic buzzing of pollinators at work. All of these wonderful sensations enriching my perception and comprehension of the natural world. Mother Nature is like driving down a highway. She reveals one sign, that leads to another, and another. If we look closely at the details, she exposes her secrets.
So what am I trying to say here? Being a naturalist means getting back to the basics and using our sensibility and intuition. Of course using common sense and safety are a priority, but making time to enjoy the outdoors should also be a priority. Unplug and take in the fresh air. Take a child outside, show them something new and watch the curiosity light up their face. Let your inner child be wild and free to explore. Write down hundreds of scientific questions that you couldn't solve on your own and do the research part later. Unfortunately we can't always spend hours at a time doing this, but when we do, the biodiversity we encounter and analyze give us a greater understanding and appreciation for our ecosystems that books and iPads can't give us.
As for me, I would love to live and work outdoors. Always venturing to seek, marvel and investigate what is happening around me, the way early explorers and scientists did. After all, there are more discoveries waiting to be unearthed!
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