We start learning the names of colors when we are babies...but what exactly is color? That question was at the center of Alan Alda's 2014 Flame Challenge. The Flame Challenge, created in 2012 to recognize the importance of clearly communicating complex scientific concepts, was inspired by a question Alda asked his teacher when he was eleven years old: "What is a flame?" Her answer? "It's oxidation."
"I didn't know any more about than I did before," Alda said. "It's just like calling it by another name. It's [as if] I said, 'What's a flame?' and she said, 'Oh, that's Fred.'"
Why am I talking about the Flame Challenge on the Library Media Center Blog? Clarity of information, of course! This award is all about explaining complex ideas in ways clear and easy enough for elementary students to understand. Clarity is a difficult but important skill to learn, and it certainly isn't limited to scientific ideas. The next time you are researching a new topic, reading a book, or looking something up online, pay attention to the expert or author's clarity of speech. Do you understand what he or she is trying to say or explain? Understanding and using information effectively are two of the most important information literacy skills we hope you learn in the library.