Science And The Art Of Science

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A couple of years ago my daughter, who will graduate with a degree in biology from UC Santa Cruz this June, shared a pivotal quote with me. The quote, by nature philosopher Vladimir Nabokov, states, “There is a high ridge where the mountainside of scientific knowledge joins the opposite slope of artistic imagination; where precision of poetry and the art of science can meet." She said it reminded her of all the years she watched me with my students, exploring and healing wild places. This was, and is, one of the most profound compliments I have ever received. There is a multitude of ways to approach teaching students about our Earth, some technical, some artistic, some spiritual, but to effect lasting change, one has to touch on all three. Throughout my 23 years as an environmental educator, I have often said my true goal is to guide students toward a love and desire to protect our planet and each other--the science they learn is a happy side effect. But side effects can have lasting effects, and make no mistake the science is critical. Hooking students emotionally, though, opens their minds to the science, to a desire to know the world around them, to a willingness to absorb the science because it explains what they love. As educators, volunteers, and docents, our challenge is to create that high ridge for students, to teach natural history in an imaginative, artistic way - one that presents science as a form of poetry from the heart. It is hard to ignore the cries

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