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I Wonder, June 2016

What does wonder have to do with a magazine for middle school science teachers? Well, as biologist Richard Dawkins writes, wonder has for long been recognised as the ‘wellspring of all scientific inquiry’, motivating scientists to investigate rainbows, the night sky, and other strange phenomena. But, studies like those of primatologist Jane Goodall’s with wild chimpanzees indicate that they too are capable of this child-like wonder, for example, at the sight of a beautiful waterfall. Does this mean that our capacity for this emotion is no different from that of our closest relatives? Or that Francis Bacon was right in suggesting that wonder only arises out of a mystified ignorance that science alone can cure? Hardly! While we may share our sense of wonder for natural phenomena with higher primates; we now have reason to believe that as a culturally mature species, no longer preoccupied with the necessities of survival, we are also capable of a more evolved form of this emotion. One that is reflected in our craving to understand these phenomena through the unique process and perspective offered by science, or what Charles Darwin called ‘this view of life’. Thus, far from ‘curing’ us of wonder, scientific discoveries are themselves wondrous, deepening our excitement and delight in the mystery and grandeur of the natural world!
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Middle school marks a period of remarkable transformation. Youngsters enter middle school as children, full of wonder and excitement. And leave as young adults, who with opportunities to discover the wonders of science, may be inspired by a lasting sense of meaning for its cause. One that, in conservationist Rachel Carson’s words, acts as ‘an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantments of later years, the sterile preoccupation with things that are artificial’. We see I wonder as an attempt to bring together a community of writers and readers willing to share their experience of engaging with just such a cultural shift in school science. One that, as theoretical physicist Brian Greene urges, ‘places science in its rightful place alongside music, art and literature as an indispensable part of what makes life worth living’.

Our 2nd issue is book-ended by two themes that celebrate this sense of wonder. Interactions is all about perspective, inviting readers to view the world through the lens of scientific explanations that unify seemingly disparate phenomena into a seamless whole. We explore the underlying forces (The Fundamental Four and Material Interactions) and cues (Chemical Ecology: Talking in Nature’s Language and How to build a Nervous System) that shape the dynamics and behaviour of systems as distant as galaxies (Interactions in Outer Space) and as immediate as our immune system responding to the ubiquitous common cold (A Viral Handshake).

Emerging Trends in Biology, on the other hand, is more about process. How are the big questions in Biology and breakthroughs in method shaping the scope of future scientific inquiry and the nature of this discipline? We give you a peek into the latest in our understanding of memories (We are what we remember), relationship with gut bacteria (We have Company), and genetic clues to evolutionary history (Reconstructing the History of Life).

In an on-going effort to bring new perspectives and voices, this issue also presents nineteen new authors and three new sections – Research to Practice, The Science Teacher at Work, and Science Communication. Go ahead - dive in! And, don’t forget to send your feedback to us at [email protected].


Editors Desk


Human Bones


Interactions In Outer Space: How The Universe Reveals Itself
Anand Narayanan

Chemical Ecology: Talking In Nature's Language
Shannon Olsson


A Viral Handshake
Srikanth K.S.


The Fundamental Four
Srinivasan Krishnan


Material Interactions
Yasmin Jayathirtha

How To Build A Nervous System
Sonia Sen


Nature Of Science

Why Do Experiments
Bhas Bapat


In Here/Out There

Exploring The Second Brain
Vignesh Narayan


The Demotion Of Pluto
Ramgopal (RAMG) Vallath


I Am A Scientist

Interview With Lolitika Mandal

The Science Lab

Fun With Archimedes Principle
Manish Yadav

Let Students Ask And Investigate: The Case Of A Variegated Plant
Gurinder Singh & Karen Haydock


Sun Wonder Non Trival Concepts
Prajval Shastri


Research To Practice

Why Teachers Should Care About Beauty In Science Education
Rohit Mehta & Sarah Keenan


The Science Teacher At Work

Interview With Richard Fernandes

Annals Of History

Through The Looking Glass
Harini Barath


Science Communication

Igniting Curiosity In Young Minds With The Flame Challenge
Reeteka Sud


Life In Your Backyard

Pollinators Or Plant Munchers - The Butterflies
Geetha Iyer

Nature Calls: A Series Of Nature-Based Outdoor Activities
Nature Conservation Foundation


Book Review

Elementary My Dear Watson
Ishaan & Sangeetha Raj


Biography Of A Scientist

Oliver Sacks The Doc On The Bike And In The Brain
Thejaswi Shivanand


Emerging Trends In Biology

We Are What We Remember: Unravelling Memories
Bhaktee Dongaonkar

We Have Company: How Gut Bacteria Influence Health & Disease
Gagandeep Kang


Reconstructing The History Of Life: A Genetic Approach
Krishnapriya Tamma


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