I consider myself as an educator. Someone who teaches others, thereby bestowing knowledge upon them. For as long as I can remember, I always enjoyed explaining things to others. The biggest joy I get from the experience is the feeling that the more I explain things, the more I understand them.
You see, when we sit down and learn something new, we usually start with remembering it. This can be done through repetition. If I sing the A,B,C enough times, I am sure to remember them. The problem is that just because I can remember something, doesn't mean I understand it. To understand, I need to be able to apply what it is I can remember. But even applying the knowledge can sometimes amount to nothing more than a technical skill.
However, when you try to explain it to someone else, that's when your knowledge is really put to the test. When you are being asked "why is it like this?" or "why can't you do it another way?" is when you have to critically examine the extent of your understanding.
Science can be hard to understand. Like any field of knowledge, science can be understood in many levels, and the higher you go, the more complicated it becomes. And the more complicated it becomes, the more assumptions you make, or take things as is, to allow you to understand the even more complex ideas.
Here's an example.
We now know today that all matter is made up of atoms.
But what is an atom?
Is is a particle made up of smaller particles. The nucleus, positively charged, and electrons around it, negatively charged.
The nucleus is actually made up of protons, positively charged, and (except for Hydrogen) neutrons, without any charge.
We can go on and on, dissecting the particles even further, BUT, even before scientists discovered the existence of the electrons, the concept of atoms was still being used to explain what is matter. It was just assumed that there is this basic element called "atom" which has so and so characteristics, and with this assumption knowledge was formulated. Once electrons and protons were discovered, they became the fundamental elements used to explain, and so on and so forth.
In today's complex scientific world, the depth of knowledge is so great that scientists sometime forget that there's a huge canyon between the general public and the specialists. Which is why I find "The Flame Challenge" to be such a great effort to bring science back to the ground.
In a nutshell, the idea is this - you think you understand something really well? now try to put it in simple language so even an 11 year old can understand.
The first challenge was to explain what flame is. The second, what is time. The current challenge - what is color.
The challenge is not an easy one, because as we become more and more informed, more and more specialized, more and more knowledgeable, we tend to take a lot of concepts for granted, forgetting that most people either don't understand them or don't even know about them. We take our point of view as the obvious one, which may or may not be what other people might think.
Let's take color as an example. Without going into what color is, lets explore the various ways we can think of color.
Color is something we see. Objects appear in different colors. We may explore the property of matter, and why different things have different color.
Color is something we experience. We can explore how we perceive color. How does our eye register color and how does our brain interpret the signal coming from the eye.
Color is a form of energy. We can explore the meaning of color from a pure physical point of view.
There are probably more ways to think about color, and I didn't even start to explain any of them.
So what do you think? can you explain what is color to an 11 year old?