Wonders of the Sea: Merging Ocean Myth and Ocean Science

Wonders of the Sea: Merging Ocean Myth and Ocean Science

Wonders of the Sea: Merging Ocean Myth and Ocean Science

Wonders of the Sea: Merging Ocean Myth and Ocean Science

Excerpt

I made a guest appearance in a sixth-grade classroom recently. Because of my background in oceanography, I was asked to talk about the science of ocean currents. The kids in this class sat resigned, unenthused, slumped back in their chairs. It had the potential to be a very long hour. So I started by saying, [I want to tell you a story.]

The change in the room was physical, palpable. The room was suddenly charged with electric energy. All of the students sat up higher and leaned forward.

Stories engage, enthuse, excite. Stories are a delight, a gift, a treat. Why not use the power of myth and story to engage students in serious science discussion and research?

Do myth and science belong together? Absolutely. What we now call myth represented, at one time, the best explanation available for the nature of the world that surrounds us. Much of what we now call science may, in some future eon, be regarded as myth and fantasy by those whose understanding goes far beyond our own. Gazing from ancient myth to modern science allows us to chart our human progress. It shows us where we have come from and who we were. It gives us a perspective from which to appreciate the benefits and majesty of the sciences that have led us to where we are.

Both myths and science attempt to answer the grand mysteries of nature—where things and beings came from, how they got here, why they act as they do, and the purpose of life. Myths explain things through story. Science explains them through empirical observation, controlled experiments, and precise calculation.

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