Oceanographer Sylvia Earle with a custom LEGO mini-figure in her likeness in 2012.
It is essential that educators begin introducing students to different STEM careers. It is also important that students see a diverse group of people in these careers. Students need to know that other people who look like them are successful in a variety of jobs.
Sylvia Earle is a successful and highly regarded oceanographer whose career spans 40 years. She is a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence, an ocean advocate, an undersea explorer, and a Ted Talk Prize Winner.
Summary from Macmillan Publishers:
Sylvia Earle first lost her heart to the ocean as a young girl when she discovered the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico in her backyard. As an adult, she dives even deeper. Whether she’s designing submersibles, swimming with the whales, or taking deep-water walks, Sylvia Earle has dedicated her life to learning more about what she calls “the blue heart of the planet.” With stunningly detailed pictures of the wonders of the sea, Life in the Ocean tells the story of Sylvia’s growing passion and how her ocean exploration and advocacy have made her known around the world. This picture book biography also includes an informative author’s note that will motivate young environmentalists.
Kids. They are all explorers. Little girls, little boys- it doesn’t matter. They’re just curious.
How can you use it in the classroom?
1. Teach important science concepts:
- Identify that Earth is mostly made of water.
- Share that most life in the ocean is actually microorganisms. Most of those microorganism are phytoplankton, a producer (requires light to produce chlorophyll and goes through photosynthesis). Phytoplankton are not plants; they are different types of organisms that are found in bacteria or protist kingdoms. Not all producers are plants.
- Discuss life cycles of different ocean organisms.
- Learn about other STEM careers. Sally Ride Science has a series of books on the STEM careers and lives of diverse professionals working in earth science, space science, biology, and more.
2. Students can identify ways of being good stewards of our planet based on what they learned in the book. Being a teacher in Louisiana, there is no way I can talk about the importance of our seas and oceans and not talk about the Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. That man-made disaster has impacted our coastline and economy in tremendous ways.
3. If you have an aquarium near you, this would be a great book to read before a field trip or family visit.
4. Have students write poems about the oceans or other water ecosystems.
5. Have students brainstorm on the purpose of ocean conservation. Then, have them write a letter to their senator or state representative talking about the importance of protecting our oceans. This would be a persuasive letter. Students will need to include reasonable justifications for their position.
6. Learn about deep-sea organisms. From glowing jellyfish to the oddity that is the angler fish, students love learning about deep-sea creatures. (I love learning about them too!)
7. Check out some of the cool activities from AMNH Ology.
How can you use this trade book in your classroom or at home?