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Why Reading Is Important to Science

August 10, 2011

Today, on our playground, among the basil and tiny eggplant, we found a “woolly bear” caterpillar. There are several types of woolly caterpillars, it turns out. (Some are poisonous and some are totally harmless. Most of the ones in our area are of the latter variety, thank goodness!) Not wanting to disrupt it in all of its fine fuzziness, we decided that we should do a web search for the little guy/gal. 

Like real entomologists, we used the details at our disposal to differentiate between the types we were finding in our search. We noted a few of its more prominent features, including the most obvious “big fuzzy” appearance. Of course, this didn’t get us very far so we then noted the color. Because the one we found (not pictured as we didn’t want harass it too much) was all black with a reddish-orange underbelly, we determined that it was the Hypercompe scribonia (formerly Ecpantheria scribonaria) or the Giant Leopard Moth.

Below are some of the pictures we came across in our research, though again, these are not ours as we didn’t want to get to close to the little one. We will be keeping an eye on the plants over the next few weeks. Hopefully our buddy will take up residence and we will be able to watch as it grows into a moth.

So why is reading so important and what on earth does it have to do with moths, woolly caterpillars or even science? Oh, here I go, once again, on my little soap box about education. In order to learn about the world around us, we not only have to use numbers and data but also words and verbal communication. In order to determine very important things like dangerous or endangered species, it is important to be able to differentiate between many kinds of plants and animals. For this reason, the written word is so incredibly important in both the recording and the retrieval of all data.

Without proper flow of words in communication we would be without so much goodness in the world. So, the next time you are tempted to say “Oh, I’m not really a math and science person; I like words and books, better”, remember that without the world of words, our world(s) of math and science would be, quite literally, at a standstill.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 11, 2011 12:09 am

    You’re talking about being “well-rounded” … keep on that soap box! (and, what?! No search results for “big fuzzy” ??)

  2. August 11, 2011 10:52 am

    I think this is an incredibly well written and thought provoking post, and I will echo Dawn and say to keep yourself on that soapbox! People need to hear these things, even enlightened and educated people.

    On another note, caterpillars that are huge and fuzzy and/or prickly scare me a little bit for a myriad of reasons. One is that I am afraid they are poisonous, but another is that they are so delicate that I am afraid to hurt them if I reach out to touch.

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