The following is an excerpt from Embracing the Unknown.
My five-year-old daughter recently asked me an interesting question: Why are a butterfly’s wings shaped the way they are? Good question, indeed. At the time, I did not have a good answer.
My daughter had been drawing an outdoor scene with crayons and markers and asked me to join in. Not because she needed the help but because she wanted the company. So I drew my version of a butterfly and tried to tell her about what I drew. She immediately declared, “I know what a butterfly is.” But later, taking a closer look at the butterfly, she asked about the reason for the shape of its wings. On the one hand, she was happy with her knowledge and understanding about butterflies, but on the other hand, she saw that her understanding was not sufficient to satisfy her curiosity.
This is the story of appreciation of the natural world around us. It starts in early childhood and continues throughout life. All people do it with the goal of obtaining a more complete and deeper understanding of how the world works. We need to understand the world in order to navigate and to predict what may come next. The more we understand, the better we can navigate. In that sense, we are all scientists and explorers. Yet we tend to think that science is studied only by professionals with PhDs.