To finish off the year, Mr. Curiosity decided to study some geology. This turned out to be a little trickier than some of the other sciences we’ve studied, since most of the books are about fossils or gems and minerals. I did a lot of digging and managed to find some good books. In return, Mr. Curiosity’s managed to learn some interested things about the world under our feet. I’d thought I’d share some of the books and a website we used in our study.
A History of Earth in 100 Groundbreaking Studies by Douglas Palmer. Mr. Curiosity started with this book. It has 100 short (3-page) essays on various geologic topics, starting from the creation of the Earth, through continental drift and fossils and ending with the future of the earth. It is written for adults, and isn’t afraid of using the correct terminology for geological phenomena (granitic and amphibolite composition anyone?). This lead to a couple of side trips on Wikipedia to define the terminology, but that isn’t a bad thing. The pictures in the book are gorgeous. Every topic starts with a full-page photograph that characterizes the topic and usually has one other photo within the essay. Full of all kinds of information and not something you have to read straight through in order to understand. You can pick and choose the topics you’re interested in.
Witness to Disaster: Volcanoes and Earthquakes by Judy and Dennis Fradin. These two books are part of a series of disaster books that follow the same formula. They start out by going into depth on a famous example of the disaster, discuss the basics of how that disaster happens, discuss a few more famous examples of the disaster, and then discuss predicting the disaster. They’re not very long books (less than 50 pages) and again have lots of beautiful photographs. Mr. Curiosity would read them and constantly interrupt me to share fun facts he read about.
When Bugs Were Big, Plants Were Strange, and Tetrapods Stalked the Earth: A Cartoon Prehistory of Life Before Din0saurs by Hannah Bonner. There are lots of books about dinosaurs which we weren’t interested in. Mr. Curiosity was never a dinosaur kids (he loved the periodic table of the elements, instead). Instead of dinosaurs, this book is about what came before the dinosaurs, which is a nice change of pace. It’s not really a cartoon (unlike the next book), but it is illustrated and does have three panel comics on many of the pages.
Pioneers of Geology: Discovering Earth’s Secrets by Margaret W. Curruthers and Susan Clinton. Probably the hardest search I had was for a biography of a geologist written for a kid to enjoy. Finally, I came across this book, part of the Lives in Science series. This book provides seven short (15-20 page) biographies of influential geologists, covering a wide time period. It started with Hutton (who worked in the 1700s) and ended with Shoemaker, working on astrogeology in the 20th century.
Finally, I have to recommend the Basher books (really, for any subject). For geology, there’s Planet Earth: What Planet Are You On? and Rocks and Minerals: A Gem of a Book. These provide short little articles (usually only a few paragraphs) on specific topics within the overall topic, along with cute illustrations and a couple of fun facts. We’ve read these in the past, so didn’t use them for our unit study this time.
We also had fun exploring the USGS earthquake site. It maps all the earthquakes and shows their intensity on several scales. You can sort based on intensity or location or time. It’s quite interactive, and worth spending some time at.
If you made it to the end, I hope you managed to learn something about geology. If not, check out one of the books above. There’s fascinating stuff under our feet. You just need to know what you’re looking at.