Midwestern Wanderlog

2016-04-29 – The principle of edutainment


How is it that the moon can appear exactly half full?  I mean, think about it.  The earth is a sphere, which means rounded edges.  That means its shadow, too, must have rounded edges.  The earth’s shadow is what creates the waning and waxing moon each month.  So how can the moon appear to half full as though someone’s taken a straight-edge to it and separated the left from the right with dark and the light?

Sunrise Stats!
First light: 5:31 AM
Sunrise: 6:03 AM
Daylight: 15 hrs, 13 min

Bobbie says, optical illusion.  It’s a mystery that’s all in your eyes, and it was created that way to mess with your head so as to keep your mind occupied trying to figure it out.  That’s why god  created lunar cycles, the stars, the moon… and the dinosaurs.

Stories are how we explain the world to ourselves.  And they’re entertaining… which, we both agree, is a far more effective way to teach anyone anything.

_MG_8974And it’s effective.  Tell a good story (or even a bad one) well enough, and you can slip in any number of facts about science and history and people will learn without even really being aware that they’re doing so.  Their guard is down; they’re being entertained; they’re having fun.

Honestly, I suspect that’s why shows like Star Trek when Roddenberry was still in charge, and Doctor Who (the classic, not the modern version) have stuck around as long and steadfastly as they have; there are elements of edutainment in both, though Star Trek runs more to social commentary.

Speaking of edutainment – at least my own, don’t know how entertaining I’m being for you, dear reader, but I’m having fun! – two new flowers to add to my knowledge-collection!

_MG_8964The first is the mouse-eared hawkweed.  I posted a picture on the Facebook saying it looked kind of like a dandelion but not really and one of my Girl Guide leaders from up in Canada identified it for me.  Once I had the name, I looked it up.  Mouse-eared hawkweed (Hieracium Pilosella) is a member of the daisy family, with fine hairs growing all over stem and leaves (but not the flower).  If you look at the leaves, they’re what’s called a basal rosette; they only grow right down at the ground, nowhere else on the plant, and they spring out and up from that central area in a circle.  The ones on the Bluff are thin and long with pretty crinkly edges.  And it has medicinal properties; it contains a chemical called umbelliferone which is an antibiotic against brucellosis and often an active ingredient in sunscreen.  The plant is also a strong diuretic.  In the U.S., though, they’re an invasive species, and allelopathic – meaning they secrete a growth inhibitor into the soil.  Doesn’t seem to bother the prairie crocus or any of the other flowers up there, though!

_MG_8963Which leads to the second new one:  the prairie violet, Viola pedafitida.  Similar to how the hawkweed is like but unlike a dandelion, these little lovelies are like, but unlike, a regular violet.  The flower is the right shape and almost the same color, but the leaves are a basal rosette, and look almost like very thin oak leaves; they have that same deep-lobed palm shape.  I’ll try to get a decent shot of the leaf in the days ahead, okay?

And again, two panoramics for today!  Because sometimes the best color shows up after sunrise!

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