Friday, November 22, 2013
Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas
Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas by Cheryl Bardoe, illustrated by Jos. A. Smith is a great example of a science biography. It tells about the life Gregor Mendel, the first geneticist. Mendel had a thirst for knowledge, and left the life prescribed for him by his father, to go to school. After becoming a friar, which allowed him time and space to work on science experiments, he spent years and years studying plant heredity. He wanted to know how plants, and humans, passed their traits to their offspring. During his time working on this science experiment, he grew close to 28,000 pea plants. Talk about dedication.
When I read books like this, I notice that great minds, and the books that shine a light on them, are people who look at the world in a new way. Mendel certainly did. He was curious, and his curiosity led him to follow his questions and test life to find the answers. The idea of genetics, a completely unknown science in Mendel's time (the mid 1800's) was an utterly new way to look at the world. No one else was concerned with the details of heredity, hence the reason that Mendel's findings were completely disregarded by the scientists of the day.
Innovators, the scientists who see things in a new way, the activists who challenge the societal norms, the artists who throw creativity in society's face, these are the people who are often scrutinized unfairly, discounted, or even villainized, but they are the ones who are moving humanity forward. Gregor Mendel said after his scientific research paper was ignored, "my time will come."
Indeed, Mendel's time came, and his work continues to be praised. I love that Bardoe wrote this book, her first picture book at that, to shine further light on Mendel's work. But the result is that it also allows children to see that looking at the world with new eyes can be a powerful thing. Because as we all know, children are the true innovators who will undoubtedly move our world forward.
It's STEM Friday (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)!