Environmental Science

The Most Educational and Adventurous Mountain Camp Program In California

Mountain Science Adventures (MSA) is very honored to invite you to our life changing outdoor education program for youth just ten minutes outside Lake Arrowhead in the Los Angeles National Forest! Enjoy comfortable cabin accommodations, gourmet freshly prepared food and a gorgeous campus set in the unspoiled beauty of nature.

Bring your class for a few days or an entire week and expose them to the incredible world of natural sciences. MSA’s program is strong on science and teaches each participant how to think like a scientist, how to use a field journal and how to utilize the scientific method to explore your own research projects.


Far away from the city lights, your students get the rare chance to utilize our high powered telescopes to see the rings of Saturn, the spectacular beauty of nebulae, and other highlights in the night sky. Our naturalist staff are passionate about teaching youth about how incredibly vast and expansive the universe truly is. Each participant leaves with a greater appreciation for the science of astronomy.


Your students learn just how fun physics can really be by learning how to calculate their own velocity during the zip line activity! The MSA instructors help your students see how physics is at play all around us, all the time. It is activities like these that really brings science to life and empowers youth to see the natural world around them through the eyes of a field scientist.


Your students learn how to use a map, compass and topographical map to complete a challenge course, in which they must word together to use their map and compass to locate certain points in a playing field. This activity not only teaches important survival concepts, but also demonstrates the importance of working together as a team!


Staying in the forest at MSA’s mountain camp gives students the precious opportunity to expand their horizons, imagine a future for themselves and develop character traits by trying new things and breaking their fears and inhibitions. Being in the forest gives them the chance to learn about wilderness survival. Each students joins a team of their fellow classmates and competes to build a shelter using the concepts shared during a lecture.

Each lecture is only ten to fifteen minutes long to allow for maximum exposure to the hands on outdoor activities of the program. It is during these experiences that students develop an interest, and even a love for natural sciences.

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A New Marine Biology Program For Youth in LA Harbor

The Ocean is one of Los Angeles County’s most precious and valuable resources. This is also one of the most threatened and vital ecosystems on our planet, bringing your class or group to a marine biology field trip imparts a personal passion and love for Ocean environmental stewardship.

Marine Biology Field Trips in California

Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) are now offering educational marine biology field trips in California. Located in the Port of Los Angeles, MSA is providing quality hands-on experiences for youth to explore the marine environment and develop a personal love and appreciation for the Ocean.

MSA offers a life-changing program combining outdoor education with adventure activities unlike any other in southern California. A marine biology field trip with the class is an exciting opportunity for each participant, who has the unique opportunity to develop new aspects of them self as they interact with a new environment.

Fun And Educational Shipboard Programs

The Enhydra is MSA’s hundred-and-twelve foot marine research vessel located in San Pedro, California. Field trips onboard the Enhydra are an excellent way to give your class or group an intimate encounter with the Ocean as we explore the Channel Island, Santa Catalina or a day trip program around coastal southern California.

Students participate in a variety of marine biology activities such as plankton trawls, and microscopes lab, water analysis, snorkeling at exotic locations around Catalina, and bird lab explorations of the coastline via kayaks.

Accommodations onboard are comfortable and leisurely. There are 19 private staterooms each with two beds, restroom with shower, sink and toilet, as well as a dresser and under bed storage.

The Enhydra also has a professional full-size galley allowing our chefs to prepare gourmet freshly prepared meals made from scratch.

You and your participants may find the ship so comfortable that you never want to leave!

Day And Overnight Dockside Programs

MSA has also started offering day programs and overnight dockside programs where the ship stays at pot for the entire duration of the program. This allows for those schools and youth groups on a tighter budget to still have an incredible experience onboard a marine research vessel as we engage in the marine environment through hands-on activities.

Want to learn more about our one-of-a-kind science programs? Give us a call Monday through Friday, 9AM to 5PM at: (310) 519-3172 ext 980

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MSA’s Awesome New Mountain Astronomy and Environmental Science Program In Southern California

Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) has been running mountain camp programs since 2000, and excels at teaching natural sciences to students in a fun and engaging way. Students learn wildlife management, physics, astronomy, orienteering and wilderness survival. The mountain camp program that MSA offers combines strong science with character building and environmental awareness.

Outdoor Education

The chance to go to camp and experience an outdoor education program is the highlight of the school year for many students, who remember their camp trip for many years to come. Outdoor education opens kids up to the incredible wonders of nature, while giving them the scientific tools and understandings necessary to further their exploration of natural sciences.

Mountain camp offers students the unique opportunity to step out of their classrooms and into the beauty of nature, where they can experience first hand the topics they have been discussing throughout their school year. This gives teachers an incredible chance to display the scientific principles discussed in previous lectures in the real world.

Adventure Activities

Coming to camp is always an adventure; just leaving the comfort of their home environment opens students up to the possibility of learning new things and challenging themselves. During their camp program students learn to overcome their fears and inhibitions on the climbing wall and zip line. These activities gently push each participant to the boundary of their comfort zones, structuring the safe opportunity for them to overcome their own self-imposed limitations and prove to themselves that they are capable of greatness.

Every class has an outdoor activity that goes along with it to demonstrate the principles discussed during the lecture. Students go for hikes, play interactive games, build shelters, visit the observatory, learn orienteering and how to use a field journal to conduct actual field science experiements.

Field Science Activities

Strong science is what MSA is most well known for. This is an aspect of the program that brings teachers back to our programs year after year with their students to develop a personal love and appreciation for the awe-inspiring world of natural sciences. The first class your students participate in teaches them how to make entries into their field journals to record data for developing their own hypothesis.

Each class uses the field journal as an integral part of each student’s educational toolkit. Before long they are enjoying implementing the scientific process to engage in a more meaningful way with the environment that surrounds them. This is where future scientists are born!

Coming to MSA’s mountain camp is an incredible opportunity for each person who attends. Discover the wonders of nature along side your students and classmates, increase awareness for the environment and impart a personal love and appreciation for environmental stewardship, and build altruistic character traits that build high self esteem and improve class morale! To learn how to bring your class to MSA mountain camp call (310) 519-3172 ext 980

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The Best Outdoor Environmental Education Program in California

Outdoor Education Builds Character And A Passion For Learning

250354_155784427831926_7442142_nOutdoor education programs are a great means for California residents to enjoy a wide variety of incredible natural resources from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Channel Islands. Visiting such places is a wonderful opportunity for students to receive the inspiration to inspire them in their academic pursuits. Many times youth walk away from our programs with a firm determination to pursue higher education and with dreams and goals for their careers.

Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) has been running outdoor environmental education programs in California for nearly twenty years, with campuses in such breathtaking and prestigious locations as Big Bear and Catalina Island. MSA has a unique passion and focus on increasing awareness of the marine environment by leading hands-on activities in and on the water, and giving students the chance to discuss amongst themselves possible solutions and alternatives to various threats to the Ocean environment.

MSA’s Outdoor Education Curriculum and Activities

One of the most unique aspects of MSA’s outdoor education curriculum and activities is the focus on imparting altruistic personality traits and building character. Each activity in our program emphasizes a core value such as courage and perseverance. Camp counselors teach and model these values while structuring safe opportunities for each student to break their fears and develop a stronger sense of self worth and confidence. After just a few days at camp, each student receives a boost of self-esteem and improved self-image.

One of the main benefits of all outdoor education activities is the hands-on nature of each lesson. Each lecture is only the introductory phase of every lab and learning session, the real education happens with the actual activity, which gives students a chance to gain first hand experience of the subject matter and discover how fin and exciting field biology truly is!

Benefits of Outdoor Education

281713_155706641173038_4088688_nOne of the greatest benefits of outdoor education is the manner in which it immerses students in the world of natural sciences, and opens their minds to the infinite possibilities for exploring and learning about the environment surrounding them in ever more fascinating ways. Even students whom previously had no personal interest in science find them selves soon becoming deeply interested in science as a way for deepening their capacity to immerse themselves in the study and appreciation of nature.

One thing educators who take their class to camp can experience from their outdoor education experience is an improved morale and bond between your students. The activities during outdoor education science camp stretch each student to the edge of their comfort zones, and bring the whole class together in support for each other. This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate as a class at the end of your school year, or to build a sense of solidarity within your students at the beginning of the school year.

Importance of Outdoor Environmental Education

If we wish to preserve our natural resources it is absolute necessary to educate the next generation and help foster their sense of appreciation for these treasures to be enjoyed for many future generations to come. When we consider that people only conserve what they love, and they only love what they know, we can readily see the great importance of outdoor environmental education for California students. The more they are immersed in the beauty of these wild places, the more effort will be placed on preserving the various wildlife, flora and fauna, which require a very sensitive balance between nature and human civilization in order to continue to exist.

Raising awareness of the various threats to the environment allows concerned citizens to then implement a course of action to correct and repair any environmental damage. Education is the primary method for raising awareness of the environment, the importance of which cannot be overlooked.

MSA’s Environmental Education Activities and Lesson Plans

The first phase of MSA’s environmental education lesson plan is to fully immerse the campers in nature, through activities such as snorkeling, hiking, kayaking and hands on field research projects. This total immersion sparks an appreciation for nature that cannot be gained through textbooks and classroom lectures. The opportunity to get their hands dirty while conducting actual field biology research given them the chance to fully experience the natural world deeper than they have sense they were young children. This is the basis for the great excitement that comes over students as their enthusiasm and morale for participating in the environmental education activities and lesson plans is heightened with every lab.

For those seeking a powerful method for sparking a lifelong passion and appreciation for environmental and natural sciences, there is no better way than with MSA’s outdoor education programs around California.

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How To Teach Environmental Education In A Way That Children Love

Teaching Facts That Enrich Their Experiences

13754173_1064422580301435_8860952737124649154_nEnvironmental education should be taught in a manner that allows for hands on activities with the elements and aspects of nature they are learning about. Anything can become infinitely more interesting when you know the top most amazing facts about that subject. Even an old Eucalyptus tree in the corner of the campus can become the topic of great scientific investigation when one learns to ask the right questions, such as: Where does it come from? When and why was it introduced? What sorts of animals live in these trees in their natural habitat?

Suddenly the object of investigation transforms into something with a unique story as well as an important role to fulfill in the local environment. This can be an awe-inspiring moment that allows students to discover the utility of science as a means for experiencing and understanding the world around us with greater acuity.

Giving Youth A Way To Immerse Themselves In Nature More Fully

13709951_1062928927117467_5813011618079619977_nOne incredibly aspect of science is field biology research. This gives students the opportunity to get out of their classrooms, set aside the textbooks, and apply their understandings to the real world they are a part of. Science then becomes a vehicle for furthering their self-development and accelerating ability to comprehend the world around them and their relationship to it.

After a certain point of development, people are discouraged from playing, making believe, and getting their hands dirty in the great outdoors. Science is a way to not only revive this genuine and most human of abilities, but it gives the imagination a platform for expressing it’s highest potential, as the catalyst for knowledge and scientific principles to develop and reveal them selves.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” – Albert Einstein

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3 Tried And True Ways To Turn Your Students Into Scientist

13631544_1062929037117456_7422598147543401713_nThe very moment each participant arrives at Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) camp, they are immersed into a world of scientific exploration and discovery. The hands-on approach MSA embraces gives each student the opportunity to learn from experience and apply their observations towards developing their own hypothesis and theories. In this light, science becomes a part of their living and breathing reality, it is no longer an impersonal academic subject – but a method they can use to immerse themselves deeper and deeper into the natural world that surrounds them.

After nearly twenty years of teaching environmental science to students around the world, MSA has noticed a few core components for inspiring a personal love and appreciation for science in the hearts of students.

Here are the three main ways you can encourage your students to think and interact with the world like scientist.:

  1. The Field Journal.

credit-AnneFMaben8The field journal is the way a scientist organizes their observations in the field, together with their own notes and ideas, to notice patterns in the subject of their research and develop insight.

When students are taught to keep a field journal, they often times develop a very close bond with it, and see the potential it has to become a great tool and resource in not only their scientific investigations, but in many other ways, as well. Students whom learn the value of keeping a field journal are much more likely to keep better notes during classes and perform better academically.

  1. Applying the Scientific Method To Develop A Theory.

The field journal is a tool to implement the scientific method towards your own research projects. The scientific method is the theory behind the practices and techniques used in the field. When students gain a personal understanding of the scientific method it fuels their imaginations and enriches their interactions with the natural world, which has now transformed into their own personal laboratory for exploring curiosity and developing ideas.

  1. Field Research Activities.

Once the field journal is ready and an understanding of the scientific method has been imparted, the final component is to get your hands dirty. The field is the final frontier in science. By creating the opportunity for your students to develop their curiosity and a natural phenomenon in their surroundings, you can allow your pupils to realize that the whole world can become the field for conducting scientific investigation.

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Understanding The Threat To Californias Kelp Forests

Although not many residents of California are currently aware, there are major concerns regarding the vanishing kelp forests, which are one the most important marine ecosystems and habitats.

Giant kelp is a type of brown algae that grows above rocky reefs typically no more deep than ninety feet. Massive kelp beds form creating one of the most diverse marine ecosystems in the world.

California has already seen an 80% reduction in giant kelp forests in the last hundred years, one of the primary concerns for the kelp forests is the amount of contaminated storm water entering the oceans from the cities and carrying various pollutants along with it.

Warmer Ocean Water

One of the most well documented events concerning loss of kelp forest habitats was in San Diego County, when the nuclear generating station at San Onofre discharged heated water destroying over 150 acres of kelp forests.

Although many people accused the nuclear generating station of releasing toxic water, it was more than likely the sudden increase in warm water that caused the giant kelp to die off to rapidly.

Giant kelp thrives in cooler waters, which remain below 69 to 70 degrees. Another reason for the decline in kelp forests could be due to an increase in global ocean temperatures, however this would need to increase significantly to completely halt all growth.

Sea Otters And Kelp Forests

The loss of much of California’s kelp forests also coincides with another missing member of Calfiornia’s marine habitats, and that is the sea otter. Sea otters were almost hunted to extinction in California long before it was ever a state, but Californian’s have made great progress in bringing back this incredibly valuable part of the ocean’s health.

Sea otters maintain the health of kelp forests by keeping the populations of sea urchins and other invertebrates in balance. If left unmanaged, sea urchin populations can grow too large and destroy an entire kelp forest by eating away at their base.

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How To Build Character In Your Students Through Hands On Field Science Activities

The scientific method empowers students to apply their cognitive faculties to its optimal potential, deepening their experience of the natural world and enriching their interactions with all life.

Introducing Students To The Scientific Method

IMG_3912_zps185c18d0When students realize for them selves how much fun it is to explore the natural world as a field scientist, it opens up their eyes to the possibilities that await them. This initial awakening to the wonders of science is enough to inspire students to consider pursuing higher education and careers in the various scientific fields.

This is the job of every good science teacher, to awaken a love for science in the hearts of their students by making it a real living breathing aspect of their lives, and displaying how to apply the scientific method to explore their own thoughts and ideas.

Applying Scientific Principles To Daily Life

IMG_2405_zps364e8fbeGood science is all about asking the right questions, and learning how to perceive the topic of your research with greater awareness. The more students learn to observe their environment, the more they can notice the patterns and interrelationships as they unfold, and use this data to apply towards developing their own theories.

In this way, the mental faculties of each student are allowed to fully blossom. Their ability to problem and engage in critical thinking is approved, as well. Field science teaches students to use their mind as a tool for understanding their surroundings, allowing them to make better life choices and healthier decisions.

Seeing The World Through The Eyes Of A Scientist

An incredible thing happens when a student becomes passionate about science, they are able to immerse themselves in experiencing life with heightened sensitivity and awareness. They begin to notice the smaller details and intricate aspects of so many things they overlooked before. Their ability to think objectively and analyze the relevancy of various facts is improved, as they learn how to harness the discriminative powers of their own minds.

Taking It A Step Further

There are many ways a science teacher can go about imparting a personal love and passion for science in their students. One of the best ways is teaching how to keep and use a field journal. The field journal personalizes the process of scientific research, and gives each student a departure point to develop his or her ideas into a hypothesis or theory.

By teaching your students how to keep a field journal, you are giving them all they need to take their understanding of science and apply it to their lives, where they can discover for themselves just how exciting the world of natural sciences truly is.

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The Effort To Re Introduce Sea Otters To Southern California

Sea otters are one of California’s most loved and adorable marine mammals, their presence is greatly missed and great efforts are being put into action to help preserve and restore the once thriving sea otter populations along our coast.

A Brief History of Sea Otters in southern California

Sea_otter_pair2Sea otters were once wide spread along the entire coastal north Pacific, from Japan to Alaska, and all the way down the west coast of North America to Baja Mexico. In California alone, sea otter populations were believed to be around six-teen thousand individuals. Then in the 17th and 18th centuries Russian and Spanish fur traders began exploiting sea otters for their pelts, and hunted them to the brink of extinction.

By the beginning of the 20th century it was assumed that sea otters were extinct, until in 1938 a small group of sea otters were found still thriving in the hidden crevices of Big Sur, California. It was estimated that there were 50 individuals surviving in this area.

California began one of its greatest conservation efforts to protect and allow this small population to repopulate the California coast. Today the population of sea otters descended from this small group found eighty years ago has risen to just under 3,000 individuals!

Why are sea otters so important to California’s marine ecosystems?

ssSea otters are a keystone species, meaning they have a larger role in maintaining the health of their ecosystems than other species. Sea otters love to eat benthic (mud dwelling) marine invertebrates, their diet ranges from abalone to sea urchins, crabs, marine snails, worms, sea stars, sand dollars, octopus, squid and others. However, most individuals specialize in one area of the over all sea otter diet.

The most abundant habitat for many marine animals are the kelp forests that line California’s coast, and provide an abundant resource for much of California’s local marine life. In recent years we have seen a sharp decline in kelp forests, this has been occurring for several reasons, such as rising ocean temperatures, but it is also occurring because of the absence of the sea otters. Sea otters keep the sea urchin numbers in balance; otherwise sea urchins eat the base of the kelp plant and eradicate entire forests.

enhanced-22150-1406642497-1Sea otters can eat a lot of sea urchins! One interesting fact about this lovable, not to mention smallest (and therefore cutest!) member of the marine mammal family, is that they have extremely fast metabolisms because this allows them to release the amount of heat they need to stay warm in the frigid North Pacific waters. An average sea otter will eat 25% of its own body weight per day!

Sea otters are integral members of California’s marine ecosystems, without them entire habitats are lost and contribute to the decrease in bio diversity.

What are the primary threats to sea otters?

Although sea otters have made a huge comeback in the last hundred years, their road to complete recovery is far from over. There are still many threats to sea otters; among the greatest are threats from chemical pollution, food limitation, loss of habitat, and nutritional deficiencies.

California has made some huge mistakes regarding their treatment of sea otters. Although sea otters were listed as endangered in 1977, just nine years later sea otters were officially banned from the southern California coast at the behest of the fishing industries, which saw sea otters as a threat to their commercial exploits. This allowed sea otters in southern California to be unprotected from harassment and harm.

During this time, any sea otters found were trapped and relocated to San Nicholas island, where it was claimed they would ‘be free from the threats of oil spills’; however, this effort was a disaster as many individual sea otters were either harmed or died trying to find their way home.

Beginning in 2001 the Fish and Wildlife Service declared that they would no longer trap and relocate sea otters, allowing them to return to southern California and repopulate.

Regardless of the recent changes in attitude and concern for reintroducing sea otters, their numbers have not grown much since 2006, in fact in 2010 the US Geological Survey announced that numbers had declined for the second year in a row. However, the Californian people showed greater enthusiasm and expressed greater interest in helping this incredibly valuable species recover.

In 2011, Californian Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation re-establishing the main source of funding for sea otter conservation programs, such as the California Sea Otter Fund, and has raised more than $1.5 million dollars in the last five years (well over their goal!).

How Can Sea Otters Be Re Introduced?

sea-otter-urchin-buffetAlthough other populations of sea otters have showed encouraging signs of recovery, such as 17% to 20% per year in some areas, the California sea otters have progressed at a much slower rate, only 5% to 6% per year. This is due to a higher mortality rate from white shark attack, bacterial and viral infections, toxicity, poisoning, and various infectious diseases.

The various inorganic pollutants traveling with the runoff from human habitations is considered to be the primary threat causing the decreased life span and high mortality rate for Californian sea otters.

In order for southern California’s sea otters to return and live healthy long lives, the quality of the water will need to continue to improve. As more and more Californians see the personal and collective benefits to implementing environmentally friendly alternatives, there seems to be hope yet for creating the right conditions for the sea otters to live.

What You Can Do To Help!

Californians have shown great interest in helping the sea otter populations to recover, and in recent years we have begun to realize the vital role they play on maintaining the overall health of marine ecosystems, particularly the kelp forest.

It is now evident that saving the sea otters not only means preserving this adorable and unique individual species, but it also means saving the foundation of our marine habitats.

There is only so much we can expect our Federal, State and local governments and agencies to achieve for us. The real contribution must come from the way we each chose to live our lives. What we pour down the drains will end up being what the sea otters swim in. By using less chemical detergents and solvents, and choosing to buy environmentally safe house hold products, we can each do our part to make the planet a better place for each and every one of us!













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Keeping A Field Journal: How To Transform Your Students Into Scientists

In the process of developing an educated appreciation for science, students use their field journals to take the scientific method into their own hands and make it a very real part of their individual lives. In this way, the field journal serves as the vehicle for developing a personal appreciation and love for science.

credit-AnneFMaben59Developing A Personal Appreciation And Love For Science

The field journal becomes the instrument that students of science use to capture their insights and other thoughts while out in the field. They are then able to ponder and interpret what they are observing into their own theories and ideas about the natural world, developing one more testable hypothesis to bring their concepts into reality.

The whole scientific method becomes an adventurous process of heightening sensitivity and deepening the student’s awareness and experience of the environment they are researching. Soon the natural world reveals its splendor and wonder, captivating the student and peaking their interest. The field journal then becomes the intermediary between raw experience and scientific analysis.

The student quickly discovers that the most important research equipment they have is their own mind and the field journal. All other technology is only complimentary.

The Field Journal

credit-AnneFMaben8As soon as students arrive at one of Mountain and Sea Adventures (MSA) programs on Catalina Island or Big Bear they are immediately introduced to how to set up, organize and keep a field journal. It is always a joy for the MSA staff to see the transformation that happens between the first class, when students reluctantly participate in what they perceive to be ‘just another school class’, to when they turn in their journals at the end of their camp experience, sometimes frantically requesting the instructors to be sure to return their journals promptly!

The field journal is a valuable tool for seeing your thoughts develop and evolve over time. This further engages the student and inspires them to immerse themselves further in their research, with a greater awareness and appreciation for the utility of the field journal.

Personalizing Our Experiences

One of the most valuable aspects of the field journal is in the way it takes an impersonal class lecture and gives it a vehicle for personal application. Now the students can listen to each new lecture with deeper interest, knowing that they will be able to apply what has been taught to their own observations and experiences in the field. Learning is no longer second-hand and based on what has already been written in texts books, but becomes a living breathing component of their lives that they can translate into their own personal writings. From a hypothesis to a theory to a scientific law, the writing that takes place in the student’s field journal gradually evolves.

credit-AnneFMaben71A Catapult For The Imagination

Many students often mistakenly think that science is cold and analytical, when the truth is that good science provides a foundation for the creative faculties, such as imagination, to unravel and reveal the untold mysteries of the natural world.

In this way, science is much like any other art form. Just like with music or fine art, the instruments, brushes and other tools are only the catalyst for the creative expression of the mind. In the same way, a field biologist utilizes many forms of technology, yet considers the imagination to be the first and most important laboratory.

Bringing Imagination To Reality

Scientists are like big kids; both spend most of their time engaged in elaborate imagination. Science can be seen as the ultimate venue for the imagination, where it is empowered to express its fullest potential. However, one of the most exciting things of all is that science is not limited to the realm of mere fantasy; but is focused on bringing thought into the material plane of measurable application.

In this way, a field biologist is constantly updating their mental vision by testing various hypothesis and analyzing the results as they unfold in the field. Eventually the scientist first discovers the theory in their imagination before explaining it, and finally proving it in a controlled environment.

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