Making of a Scientist by Richard Ebright

This post will discuss the summary of Making of a Scientist by Richard Ebright. It is the narrative of an inquisitive child who uses his curiosity to pursue a career as a scientist. Richard Ebright was quite close to her mother, who was instrumental in cultivating his interest in science.

His journey began with a collection of butterflies. Later in life, he conducted a study on the function of gold spots on monarch butterfly pupae. His paper on the function of the cell was published in a scholarly journal, and he gained notoriety. Ebright took part in numerous science exhibitions and received numerous medals. Apart from science, he was interested in debate and public speaking. He is competitive and has a can-do attitude. Thus, he possesses all of the attributes necessary to develop into a great scientist.

Making of a Scientist

Summary of The Making of a Scientist

The Making of a Scientist chronicles the life of eminent scientist Richard Ebright. He was an inquisitive child from his earliest years. He began collecting butterflies as a toddler and by the time he reached the second grade, he had amassed all 25 kinds found in his hometown. Additionally, he amassed a collection of coins, fossils, and rocks. His mother gave him a book titled ‘The Travels of Monarch X’ one day. This book was a watershed moment in his life, introducing him to the world of science. He got a taste of genuine science at the county science fair, and he also realised that to win something, he needed to do something spectacular.

Later in eighth grade, he was assigned the task of determining the origin of a viral illness that killed nearly all monarch caterpillars each year. He reasoned that the cause might be a beetle, and thus raised caterpillars in the presence of bugs. He was, however, incorrect. The next year, for his science fair project, he tested the notion that viceroy butterflies mimic monarchs. His project won first place in the zoology division and came in third place at the country science fair.

Richard Ebright’s second year of high school research resulted in the discovery of an undiscovered insect hormone, which led to the development of his new hypothesis of cell life. He sought to ascertain the significance of the little golden dots on the back of monarch pupa. This study received first place in a national science fair and earned the student the opportunity to work at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.

As a senior in high school, he continued his advanced experiment and was eventually able to discover the molecular structure of hormones. While examining the X-ray images of the hormone, he came up with the notion for his new theory, which states that cells can read their DNA’s blueprint. Ebright and his roommate built a plastic model of a molecule to demonstrate how DNA works. It was a significant step forward and was eventually published in a magazine. He graduated with the highest honours from Harvard.

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He also has other interests, including public speaking and debate, and is an avid canoeist and outdoor enthusiast. Additionally, he was competitive but in a healthy way, constantly striving to do his best. Additionally, he exhibits all of the characteristics necessary for success as a scientist.

Theme of Making a Scientist

The theme of the chapter Making of a Scientist is that brilliant people are valuable. When a person achieves distinction in life, his roots can be traced back to his childhood. An unwavering desire to succeed, a curious intellect, and a focused effort all work together to shape an individual into a genius. The author wishes to instil this concept in the consciousness of the reader by detailing Ebright’s development as a scientist.

Chapter Highlights

1. Richard’s article on how cells work was published in a science journal at the age of twenty-two.
2. Richard was a single child and didn’t have friends to play with. So, he became interested in collecting butterflies and various other items.
3. His mother bought him all the equipment he needed. She guided him and helped him to learn.
4. He read the book ‘The Travels to Monarch X’ which created a love for science in him.
5. He raised thousands of monarch butterflies at home over a few years. He tagged them as they grew and freed them to study their migration.
6. Richard put up a slide of frogs at the County science fair but did not win any award.
7. His defeat inspired him to experiment. He took help from Dr Urquhart to work on various projects.
8. He won many awards at the County and International science fairs in subsequent years.
9. His work on viceroy butterflies got him the first position award in a fair.
10. Richard discovered a hormone necessary for the growth of, the monarch butterfly.
11. He worked at the Army laboratory and the US Department of Agriculture laboratory.
12. Richard spent a year at Harvard as a freshman before going back to the laboratory to discover the chemical structure of the hormone responsible for the gold spots on the monarch pupa.
13. His findings motivated him to study cells and how they read their DNA.
14. His theory may help to prevent many kinds of cancers and other diseases.

Conclusion of the making of a scientist

The story teaches us that with perseverance, dedication and hard work any dream is achievable.

Questions and Answers of Making of a Scientist

Question 1.
What rare achievement did Richard manage at the age of twenty-two?
Richard had a rare honour at the age of twenty-two. He wrote an article with his friend about a theory of how cells work. The article was published in the scientific journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.’ No one had this achievement at such a young age before him.

Question 2.
Richard became a collector at an early age. How?
Richard was the only child of his parents. He had no company at home to play with. So, he started collecting things in his spare time. He would collect coins, fossils, rocks and butterflies as a hobby.

Question 3.
In addition to science, what were the other interests of Richard?
Apart from science, Richard was a good debater and a public speaker as well as a canoeist and an all-around outdoors person. He loved photography as well.

Question 4.
Mr Weiherer pays a glowing tribute to Richard. What did he say?
Answer: Mr Weiherer was Ebright’s social studies teacher. He praised him for his brilliant mind, his curiosity and a will to win for the right reason. He also admired Richard for his spirit to do his very best all the time.

Question 5.
When and how did Ebright get the idea of his new theory about cell life?
During the junior year, Ebright got the idea for his new theory about cell life. He was looking at X-ray photos of the chemical structure of a hormone. Seeing the photos, he believed that the photos gave him the answer to the puzzle—how the cells can read the blueprint of its DNA.

Question 6.
Why was it a great achievement for Ebright when his article was published in the magazine ‘The Proceedings of the National Academy of Science’?
It was for the first time that the article of a student was published in this important science journal. It was like making a big league at the age of fifteen. It was indeed a great achievement.

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More Questions

Question: How did a book become a turning point in Richard Ebright’s life?
Answer: Richard Ebright was interested in collecting butterflies. By the time he was in the second grade, he had collected all the twenty-five species of butterflies found around his hometown. This would have been the end of his butterfly collecting. But at this point, his mother got him a book called “The Travels of Monarch X’. This book told him about the migration of monarch butterflies to Central America. This book aroused his interest in Monarch butterflies and opened the world of science to him. This proved to be the turning point in the life of young Richard Ebright. He began to raise Monarch butterflies in the basement of his home, and study them in the different stages of their development.

Question: How did his mother help him?
Answer: Richard Ebright’s mother helped him by encouraging his interest in learning. She took him on trips, bought him telescopes, microscopes, cameras, mounting materials and other equipment, and helped him in many other ways. If he did not have anything to do, she found things for him to learn. Even the book that became a turning point in his life was given to him by his mother. Hence, it can be said his mother played a crucial role in the making of the scientist.

Question: What lesson does Ebright learn when he does not win anything at a science fair?
Answer: Edbright realizes that mere display of something does not mean science. To win at a science fair he will have to do real experiments.

Question:What experiments and projects does he then undertake?
Answer: He makes experiments to find out what causes the viral disease that kills nearly all monarch caterpillars. He undertakes a project to test the theory that viceroy butterflies copy monarches to survive.

Question: What are the qualities that go into the making of a scientist?
Answer: The author mentions three qualities that go into the making of a scientist—a first-rate mind, curiosity, and the will to win for the right reasons. Richard Ebright was a very intelligent student. He was also a champion debater, a public speaker, a good canoeist and an expert photographer. He always gave that extra effort. He was competitive, but for the right reasons. From the first, he had a driving curiosity along with a bright mind, and it was this curiosity that ultimately led him to his theory of cell life.

Making Of A Scientist Exercise – Think about it

Question:How can one become a scientist, an economist, a historian…? Does it simply involve reading many books on the subject? Does it involve observing, thinking and doing experiments?
Answer: Reading books is just one aspect of learning. This is an exercise in information gathering. It is how your brain processes the information that affects the degree of learning. The first and the foremost criteria to become a genius in one’s chosen field is to have a great curiosity and unending hunger to discover more. The next criteria is a good sense of observation which helps you to correlate your findings with what you see or experience in the real world. Experiments are just to test your findings against possible variables and in real-life situations. And last, but not least criteria is an urge to work really hard on your area of interest.

Question: You must have read about cells and DNA in your science books. Discuss Richard Ebright’s work in the light of what you have studied. If you get an opportunity to work like Richard Ebright on projects and experiments, which field would you like to work on and why?
Answer : Ebrights’ work is directly related to Biology. The Discovery of a cell’s structure has helped the scientific community to understand the way an organism functions and grows. This has helped scientists to discover how disease-causing organisms attack us and grow inside our bodies. This must have given them an idea to counter a particular disease. DNA fingerprinting is helping police to pinpoint the real culprit. This was not possible when DNA was discovered. Monarch butterflies present an amazing example of a tiny creature migrating thousands of miles from North America to the rainforest of the Amazon. Someday we can be in a position to develop a sturdy and reliable navigation system like that of the Monarch butterflies.

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