Here is a truly fascinating example of unlikely science. Mold, it turns out, serves not just to sabotage once-tasty foods (and play a crucial role in the environment, whatever), but also can exhibit strangely intelligent problem-solving skills.
An interesting fact about this slime mold is that it is highly intelligent — or at least it behaves as if it is. In locating food in its environment, it builds networks that have been shown to be optimally efficient in transporting the nutrients over the area in question. If placed in a maze, for instance, with a source of food outside the maze, the slime mold will discover the shortest path out.
I wonder what future STEM researchers will make of this information. Will they find a way to harness slime’s networking capabilities? Will they emulate its unique strategies? How will you encourage your students to engage with slime? How will you teach them to respect it?