Discover Earth

Boy are we lucky! The England Run Branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system is one of only ten libraries in the country to receive the exhibit, Discover Earth: A Century of Change.  This exciting and fun educational opportunity is more than just a collection of information panels.  It features interactive, multimedia displays allowing visitors to experience digital information in a dynamic way, encouraging new perspectives on our planet and reinforcing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts.  Between now and the end of April, visitors can experience the exhibit and enjoy special classes and events.  The exhibit will answer many earth science related questions, but it’s also designed to encourage scientific inquiry.  The library has purchased wonderful titles for adults and children to further pursue these interests.

The citizen scientist is a current trend that the exhibit reinforces.  Anyone, of any age, can contribute to scientific research from the comfort of their sofa, backyard or town, and the book “Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard” by Loree Griffin Burns, provides a foundation for getting started.  Describing a citizen scientist as “the study of our world by the people who live in it,” Burns shares her family’s experiences and explains that children are perfect candidates, due to their natural curiosity and watchfulness.   Chapters focus on a different scientific opportunity--butterflying, birding, frogging, and ladybugging--for each of the four seasons.  Burns addresses the child, creating excitement and anticipation as she describes sneaking up on a butterfly and swinging a net to capture it for observation.  She encourages responsibility, guiding children to carefully remove the creature without causing any harm.   Although the reading level is upper elementary, the writing is accessible to younger children and all ages will learn something about the world and their importance to it.

I first saw the exhibit two years ago and still vividly remember the video of a scientist in the Antarctic who gathers all of her strength to close the door against a wind so powerful that venturing outside was forbidden.  Seymour Simon’s “Extreme Earth Records” is the book version of that experience.  One to two page spreads cover extremes from the most remote place on earth, Tristan da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean, to the biggest earthquake, 1960 in Vladivia Chile.  This book has just the right amount of information on a variety of fascinating facts.  

Survival at 120 Above” by Debbie S. Miller focuses on a very specific type of extreme, Australia’s Simpson Desert where temperatures swing from 120 degrees during the day to 56 at night and yet, is home to a variety of life.  Not surprisingly most of the animals are reptiles, but emus are among the active daytime residents.  Miller’s descriptive language clearly explains the adaptations that make life possible in this unbelievably harsh environment.  

A permanent part of the exhibit resides on England Run’s roof--a  weather station.  It’s fun to follow the wind speed and rainfall just a few miles from home!  “Weather Watcher” by John Woodward offers introductory experiments and activities to build excitement about this everyday phenomenon.  Simple instructions teach children experiments to measure air pressure and explain how low pressure can cause a storm surge.  All are accessible thanks to the use of common household items like balloons, straws and oranges.

Originally from The Free-Lance Star Monday, February 18 “Book Corner” by Rebecca Purdy