What’s the name for learning something connected to your main topic?

What’s the word for when you’re learning about one topic, you need to learn about several other things to help you understand the main topic?

I’m learning a lot about birding. This means I also have to learn the names of local trees and plants so I can better understand what birds are in a certain habitat. And so I can tell people “the bird is in that oak tree.” AND so when people say “It flew into that privet bush” I know where to look.

But birders don’t just look for birds. We listen. I’ve been learning a lot of bird songs. I need to know not only what birds sing which songs, but what sounds aren’t bird songs.

So I also needed to learn the sounds that chipmunks, squirrels and frogs make – because they can make sounds that sound like birds.

Recently, I wrote a book about plastic pollution in the ocean. It’s called Ocean Plastics Problem and it’s part of the Max Axiom and the Super Scientists Series. I had to learn a lot about chemistry to be able to explain how plastic is made and why it’s such a problem in our oceans.

Max Axiom book cover


I had a similar experience trying to write my forthcoming book The Science and Technology of Leonardo da Vinci. In order to understand how he describes the way heart valves work so that I could explain it to young readers, I had to learn all about the physics of flowing water.



There’s got to be a word for the kind of chain-reaction learning, or connected learning, that comes with exploring a new topic. WHAT IS IT?? Do you know??