The trend in science education leans toward abstract thinking and away from observation of nature. We tend to dismiss some of the most amazing animals, plants, and other organisms that are all around us as too familiar, or not part of the curriculum. To substantiate this claim, consider the main topics of high school biology: genetics, cells, evolution, and ecosystem/environmental studies. Yet, as we know, one of the most important qualities of a good scientist is the ability to make critical observations. Also, one of the most important qualities of a person in love with God is the ability to really see and appreciate the providential marvels of the created world.
This lab is geared toward coaxing your students to see deeply and to cultivate a sense of wonder, which is followed by a more fervent love for God who created all things well and who provides for us all. Over time, if practice is given throughout the year, your students will become much more observant and curious about nature, which then also leads to concern and love for the environment as well as a diminishment of the attitude of jaded entitlement that is a temptation for so many today.
The lesson includes close observation and drawing of several different organisms. I've chosen arthropods and flowers to begin with, but many others could be used. The advantage of using these two is they are both readily available (in the fall and spring) - please encourage your students to catch/pick them on their own, and not to purchase them! Another advantage is that they both are able to be seen with the naked eye, but so much more can be seen with a stereomicroscope or hand lens, making them an instant hit. There are many who would rather not look at an insect or spider, but when they are seen magnified, their features will astound your students and make them memorable. The purpose of the drawings, which should be as exact and precise as possible, are to help the student to see and remember. The use of colored pencils is encouraged.