Book review,  environmental education

Lessons from Rachel Carson for a New Generation

Middle-schoolers and their families looking for engaging ways to learn about nature and ecology concepts will enjoy Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids:  Her Life and Ideas,with 21 Activities and Experiments.

The book follows Rachel Carson’s life, from her childhood adventures growing up in the woods along the Allegheny River, through her environmental work for the United States government and her successful and sometimes controversial writing career during a time that the concept of a “woman scientist” was unthinkable.

Credited by many to be the inspiration behind the modern-day environmental movement, Carson was a true ecologist, before ecology was widely recognized as its own discipline. Her work led to government action to protect the environment, such as the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and a number of governmental initiatives such as The Clean Air Act, the Environmental Pesticides act and the Endangered Species Act.

While primarily a biography, each chapter of Rachel Carson and Ecology for Kids also delves into the science, explaining some of the principals she explored in her work in greater detail. Sidebars throughout the book provide scientific and historical background that complements the text and black and white photos show the beauty of nature, particularly the shorelines that captured her interest and affection.

This engaging book not only traces the life of one of the country’s best known ecologists, it also shows young nature lovers how they can take action themselves. The various activities sprinkled throughout relate to ideas presented in each chapter and, true to Carson’s interests, include not only science-y crafts and experiments, but also creative writing prompts. A comprehensive resource list not only provides sources of additional information on Carson’s life and work but also hands-on learning experiences. For example, families can literally walk in her footsteps, by visiting her birthplace in Springdale, Pennsylvania, her former home in Silver Spring, Maryland (both National Historic Sites) and/or walking the Carson Trail at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Wells, Maine.

Note: No compensation was provided for this review. The opinions are solely those of the reviewer.