natural education

Our understanding of human nature directly influences what we expect of people. If humans are naturally selfish and competitive, we cannot expect to live in a cooperative society. When we see how differently other cultures have characterized human nature, we can recognize human nature as a cultural value, an idealized and normative mythology that justifies the way a society is organized. Western civilization devotes an immense amount of resources to social control, policing, and cultural production reinforcing capitalist values. The Western idea of human nature functions as a part of this social control, discouraging rebellion against authority. We are taught from childhood that without authority human life would descend into chaos.
—  Peter Gederloos, Anarchy Works

Clearing and staining, or diaphonization, is a process used by vertebrate biologists when seeking to visualize a particular animal’s skeletal system. Some steps include submerging the specimen in containers of digestive enzymes to render their organs translucent, while other steps involve immersing the animal in alizarin red dye, which adheres to calcium in their bones and stains them red, and alcian blue dye, which reacts with the cartilage of their joints. The results manage to be useful for studying biomechanical function and skeletal morphology, as well as appear stunningly beautiful. 

Learn more of this process by watching our latest episode: Clearing and Staining Fishes


Books Every Black Child Should Read 

Nappy Hair -  Carolivia Herron, Joe Cepeda (Illustrator)

The Snowy Day -  Ezra Jack Keats

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters -  John Steptoe

Meet Addie - American Girl Story 

“Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales” - Virginia Hamilton

Daddy and Me -  Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe

Dancing In The Wings - Debbie Allen

Something Beautiful - Sharon Dennis Wyeth

The effects of stress may filter right down to your brain's DNA.

An experiment showed that the amount of nurturing a mother rat provides its newborn baby plays a part in determining how that baby responds to stress later in life.

The pups of nurturing moms turned out less sensitive to stress because their brains developed more cortisol receptors, which stick to cortisol and dampen the stress response.

The pups of negligent moms had the opposite outcome, and so became more sensitive to stress throughout life. These are considered epigenetic changes, meaning that they effect which genes are expressed without directly changing the genetic code. And these changes can be reversed if the moms are swapped.

But there’s a surprising result. The epigenetic changes caused by one single mother rat were passed down to many generations of rats after her. In other words, the results of these actions were inheritable.

From the TED-Ed Lesson How stress affects your brain - Madhumita Murgia

Animation by Andrew Zimbelman

This is what you shall do :
Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyranny, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men — go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families — re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul.
—  Walt Whitman, preface to “Leaves of Grass”, 1855

The Brain Scoop: How Bird Vomit Helps us Understand History

Owl pellets. Many of us dissected them in school, picking apart these congealed masses of regurgitated bones, fur and fluff – aka, bird vomit. But in caves across the world, massive accumulations of these vomit capsules are helping paleontologists reconstruct what ecosystems looked like, and how they changed, over periods of hundreds- to hundreds of thousands of years. 

Curious…? Check out our latest: 


Mammoths vs. Mastodons: 
Can we ‘de-extinct’ them both?

‘Jurassic Park’ is the quintessential ‘de-extinction’ story, a fiction that captured the imaginations of people all over the world. But in the last few years, the research potential examining possibilities of bringing back genomes of extinct organisms doesn’t seem so fictional after all. 

The Woolly Mammoth is a prime candidate for this research both in terms of their close genetic relationships to Asian elephants, as well as the amount of well-preserved genetic material. But what about a group of organisms related to woolly mammoths…? How far can you stretch those genetic relationships, and what else factors into that feasibility? 

Check out the video for more..!


Happy Blackout Day everyone!!!! Since the theme for this blackout is education I decided to take a picture of myself with my GED. School was always a source of stress for me growing up. The constant name calling and teasing that didnt stop ounce I reached highschool was to much for me. So I dropped out and I earned my GED instead. It’s the best decision I ever made for myself.


The Brain Scoop:
The Amazing Laser

Museums have seen the rise and fall of many technologies in their institutions - but I’m not sure we could have anticipated things like the utility of 3D printing and surface scanning mechanisms (!!!).