Why do sloths sleep all day?
March 18, 2013
Twenty-five schoolchildren in neon-green T-shirts fanned across the beach at Punta Culebra, each carrying a pencil and a clipboard with a blank sheet of paper
Twenty-five schoolchildren in neon-green T-shirts fanned across the beach at Punta Culebra, each carrying a pencil and a clipboard with a blank sheet of paper. The assignment: look around, ask questions and write them down. Why is the sand darker when it's wet? Why do tree branches break?
“Why do sloths sleep all day?” was one question that generated plenty of discussion - as well as some laughs when one student suggested, “Because they're slothful.” STRI postdoc Ivania Cerón guided the discussion toward how scientists test hypotheses for any given inquiry.
“The idea is to teach them the scientific method and to observe,” said Ivania. STRI's Chispa! is a new two-year program sponsored by HSBC Panama for schoolchildren aged 10 to 14. They will do science projects, explore research sites, and develop critical thinking skills under the guidance of STRI scientists, educators and HSBC mentors.
“This new program exposes kids to great role models, and encourages them to use their own natural curiosity to explore the world around them through science,” said Sharon Ryan, STRI's director of public programs.
If students pursue the sloth question, they might reach an interesting conclusion. Sloths aren't quite so sleepy. Research conducted on Barro Colorado Island showed sloths sleep a little less than 10 hours a day.