The Nation: Thinking Small

The legislators of Virginia, whose forebears once led the debates over American independence more than 200 years ago, today face another issue of great moment: whether to designate the state's official insect as the praying mantis, which the state's house of delegates has championed, or as the swallowtail butterfly, which the state senate has boosted. The question came to the fore last fall, when the fifth-and sixth-graders at the Arlington, Va., Long Branch Elementary School did some research on both the butterfly and the mantis and found the mantis, which has a reputation...

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