As I was finishing up a biology lab, I came to a sudden halt in my conclusion and evaluation. My Group 4 IB Biology Lab had involved changing the wave-lengths of light absorbed in a mesocosm to see how the spectrum of light available to plants affected their photosynthesis. Realistically this meant that we grew radishes in bottles and changed the colors of the bottles for different conditions- clear, blue, green, and red. However, finding no red bottles available in the marketplace (c'mon Coca Cola, you really gotta get a move on), I resorted to wrapping a clear bottle with a (pink) clear wrap.
Flash foward to my sudden halt. I had assumed that pink had to be essentially red- after all, we get pink by mixing red and white, and white is just all the colors together. But someone else suggested it was closer to violet and here is where I stopped and stared into space... red and violet are on completely different sides of the light spectrum and yet we consider pink to be pretty close to both? And also now that I thought about it, red and blue yields purple but the wave-length of purple surpasses both red and blue? What's going on with the world?
Turns out there are pretty rational explanations to these questions and I was mixing up what's called additive and subtractive coloring, but that's besides the point. In asking these questions, I went far beyond what I had to do for any sort of coursework. In fact, the additional research (googling) I did will have likely no effect on my grade in any way. But this process is a perfect depiction of the real beauty of learning and its implications for the education system.
Some people make the mistake of assuming that students should love everything they are learning in school. As a result, many progressive schools are opting into 'design your own curriculum' programs where students choose what they want to study on a certain day. This sounds great, but in reality has some seriously terrible implications. If given the option of choosing whatever I wanted to study, likely I would not choose color theory- I probably wouldn't even know what that was. I can't say that the intersection of light and agriculture interests me more than anything in the world; but doing this particular lab and taking my particular biology class led me to exploring nuances of other subjects like color theory that I wouldn't have considered otherwise.
This isn't the only time that this has happened. My math class led me to cryptanalysis; my history class to economics. It is only by being exposed to a variety of disciplines at this age that I am able to really explore niche ideas and concepts that really have and keep a hold of my mind. The best part? No one knows what will fascinate me next.
- Alexandra G. Kytka
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