Friday, April 17, 2020
Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids
Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids: Her Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities and Experiments
by Rowena Rae
144 pages; ages 9 - 12
Chicago Review Press, 2020
With Earth Day coming ‘round the bend, I couldn’t help but grab this new book about Rachel Carson out of my book basket. It’s part of the For Kids series, fun books that feature hands-on activities and experiments.
About 100 years ago, a 14-year-old girl grabbed her notebook, camera, and lunch and headed off to the woods with her dog. That girl was Rachel Carson, a curious kid who wanted to know the names of all the trees and discover which birds were nesting in them. Rachel wanted to pursue science, not an easy path for a woman in the 1920s. But she persisted, doing research at Woods Hole and eventually working with the Bureau of Fisheries – not as a biologist, but writing radio scripts for a series called “seven-minute fish tales.” She kept writing, and eventually got hired as an aquatic biologist, writing and editing reports and information sheets.
Carson loved the sea and was lucky enough to get a grant allowing her to do research and work on her book, The Sea Around Us. After the war, technology brought many new inventions to the market, from kitty litter to bug sprays. Rachel became worried about one widely used chemical, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). She was interested in how the pesticide affected wildlife, and learned that the poison accumulated in birds and other animals.
When Rachel began writing Silent Spring, she used metaphors and anecdotes to connect the important findings from chemistry, biology, and statistics to readers’ emotions. She wanted readers to understand that people depend on things that nature provides, such as pollinators, water filtration, and other “ecosystem services” and need to protect it. Her writing inspired a generation of women scientists and environmental writers; you can meet one, Rebecca E. Hirsch, over at the Grog Blog on Wednesday.
The hands-on activities range from writing nature-inspired haiku to examining food webs, making a worm farm to identifying the ecological services of a tree. Back matter includes a glossary, resources to explore – including places to visit – and chapter notes.
If you're looking for picture books about Rachel Carson, check out these posts here and here.
Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.