Imagine a world without vivid hues of color, a world where you couldn't distinguish the red breast of a robin, or marvel at the design of the monarch butterfly's pattern. Visualize a night sky on Independence Day, where the bursts of light and color of fireworks are greeted with cries of delight from people of all ages. Picture the first time you traveled to the Caribbean Islands or some other visually beautiful ocean locale. The first sense that overwhelmed you was probably not the smell of the salty water or hearing the roar of the waves, but the sight of the clear turquoise sea that made you want to explore its depths.
Humans' sense of sight is often considered the most important sense of all. Our earliest ancestors relied on their eyesight to hunt and kill for survival. When we choose a mate, we frequently base our attraction to the opposite sex on their looks. Today's technology requires the ability to navigate the internet, and there is a recent shift in communication that relies primarily on texting and email. Without the ability to see, we would consider ourselves at a huge disadvantage.
On the other hand, not all creatures are as reliant on sight as humans. Most bat species use echolocation, where they rely heavily on their sense of hearing as they reflect screeches back to their ears to locate their prey. Manatees use the numerous tactile hairs on their bodies to navigate through the murky waters in which they live. Rattlesnakes and pit vipers use infrared vision to detect warm-blooded creatures to prey upon. Dogs and wolves interpret their world through their vivid sense of smell.
Light and color are a part of human life that is often taken for granted. If we need light, we reach for a light switch and turn in on. We don't put much thought into where color comes from. Yet, in order to learn more about color and light, we need to ask questions: Where does light come from? What makes an apple appear red? Do all creatures see the same way as each other? Asking questions is as important as the answers we seek.
The teacher is the role-model for his/her students. If he or she acts like the authority and every answer can be "looked up", the students will never raise their awareness to new heights. Instead, the teacher should encourage students to think about what we do NOT know, as opposed to what we do know, and encourage students to do the same. We are not and never will be omniscient beings, but we should present the quest for answers to the unknown as an exhilarating journey.