When I first applied and joined up with the STEM Tuesday team, there was one general subject I secretly wanted to avoid at all cost. A subject which is one of my weakest scientific areas. Botany.
It’s not that I am a complete putz when it comes to botanicals. I cultivate a vegetable garden every year. I enjoy both the gardening process and reaping the benefits of the garden’s production. My paternal grandfather taught us grandkids how to plant petunias in my mother’s flowerbeds not long after we were out of diapers. My maternal grandfather kept a big, spacious garden where he grew tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, horseradish, and all things which could be made into spicy canned deliciousness.
I must confess, however, when it comes to the study of plants, I fall short. I can spend hours studying an animal cell or bacteria or a virus. A plant cell? Not so much. I can make a pretty solid salsa out of the tomatoes, peppers, and onions from my garden; yet can tell you very little about the seed anatomy, the root system, the physiology, or the leaf structure of that tomato plant.
With my relative ignorance out in the open, what can I offer to the STEM Tuesday Botany Craft & Resource game this month?
I can ask a simple question that lies at the core of an inquiring STEM mind:
How can I learn more about _______? (Which, in this case, is botany.)
I can suggest doing what STEM thinkers have done for centuries and go to work.
- Observe. “Hey, that thing is pretty awesome.”
- Ask why. “Why is that thing as awesome as it is?”
- Research. “I need to find out what makes that thing awesome.”
- Books (Like our STEM Tuesday book list at the beginning of the month.)
- Experts – Talk to experts or read interviews and articles from experts.
- Go where your interests take you. “This thing is like that thing and it’s also awesome.”
- Dig deep into those directions that interest you. “Whoa! This thing and that thing are both are part of something bigger.”
- Be open and willing to learn.
- Be willing to do the work to learn.
I cleaned the remaining vegetables off all the plants in my garden this past weekend in front of an early frost and snow shower. The plants were pulled and thrown into the compost pile and the last containers of homemade salsa and pasta sauce were canned and now sit in the pantry. Gardening season 2018 has come to an end. But the learning is just beginning for the gardener. Time to hit the STEM Tuesday Botany book list and see where my plant learning journey takes me over the winter.
As my wife, who teaches first grade, often reminds her rock-headed husband, we are never too old to learn something new.
Finally, never forget that life viewed through the lens of an inquiring STEM mind is a much richer life.
Keep asking questions!
Mike Hays has worked hard from a young age to be a well-rounded individual. A well-rounded, equal opportunity sports enthusiasts, that is. If they keep a score, he’ll either watch it, play it, or coach it. A molecular microbiologist by day, middle-grade author, sports coach, and general good citizen by night, he blogs about sports/training related topics atwww.coachhays.com and writer stuff at www.mikehaysbooks.com. Two of his essays will be included in the Putting the Science in Fiction collection from Writer’s Digest Books release later this month. He can be found roaming around the Twitter-sphere under the guise of @coachhays64.
The O.O.L.F Files
The Out Of Left Field files this month focuses on the fun side of botany in an attempt to make up for my shortcomings on the subject as outlined in the above post. And if you find yourself hungry at the end of chasing the links, the final link can easily take care of your appetite, one way or the other.
- Plant Project Ideas from ThoughtCo.
- iGameMom – I’ve been a follower of iGameMom for years. So many great ideas and activities, so little time!
- Top 20 Most Interesting Plants of the World
- The Effect of Music on Plant Growth and Pests
- 10 of the World’s Strangest Plant Species
- 62 Edible Wild Plants That You Didn’t Know You Can Eat