Spinning up new projects at work, which means learning about new topics, which means fun! Every night this week I’ve gotten to bring home a geology textbook, and let me tell you, I’m so enamored with science books. Especially ones with lots of cool pictures. And this one has many! The book is Physical Geology (11th ed.), by Plummer, Carlson, and McGeary. It seems to be intended for an introductory survey course at the college level, but motivated high school students could certainly glean a lot, and it’s got the photos and diagrams to draw in non-student science geeks also. Or maybe I shouldn’t generalize that way—but it at least drew in this non-student science geek.
Having been through lots and lots of science textbooks over the course of my academic career and in the time since, well, the books I tend to pick up the most often really are those introductory type texts. Maybe it has to do with the nature of working in education and exploring ways to teach a wide variety of topics, not necessarily at an expert level. Maybe it’s all those pretty pictures. At any rate, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite Earth science resources, and see if you wish to add any as well. Your recommendations are always welcome!
General Earth Science:
Dr. Art’s Guide to Planet Earth (Sussman). It says right on the cover that this book is for Earthling ages 12 to 120. That covers, well, lots of the population. Dr. Art takes the Earth system approach, looking at how the different components are interconnected. It’s effective. It’s basic information that a science literate public should understand. The font size is large and it’s divided into short topic sections so that even a non-science geek could get through it. I know it says 12 to 120, but maybe it should be bedtime reading for kids. Both you and they might take away a new understanding and appreciation of our planet.
Earth Science (Spaulding and Namowitz). This one is a high school textbook, but has a surprising amount of gems and nuggets of information on a full range of topics. I find it very entertaining and sometimes even enlightening reading, but we have already established that I am geek.
Turn Left at Orion (Consolmago and Davis, 3rd ed). No, it’s not a textbook. But having taught night-sky programs for a lot of years, this one is a book I’d definitely replace if my dog ate it. [Actually, he did eat the binding, but the talented folks at Kinkos were able to remedy that for me.] I like it because it has the essential observing information (what to see, and where/how to find it) but also adds some science bits so if you’re trying to explain to someone what that cluster represents, or the ages of the stars in it, it’s all in that one place. Handy. Essential.
Physical Geology (Plummer, Carlson, McGeary). Yes, already said, love the photos. And the really clear explanations with real-life scenarios. Maybe it’s because geology—like other Earth sciences—is just…relevant. Earth, it’s where we live. All that part and why I bother trying to teach, write, etc. about it. This book gave me a sense that the authors really shared that philosophy. Did I mention the awesome photos?
Essentials of Meteorology (Ahrens). Alright, this one is actually on the bookshelf at work, so I can’t look up specific details right now, but it’s the introductory resource I point people to when asked. It’s another undergraduate introductory survey course text and explains the essentials (as its name indicates) without the math. And that can be refreshing for people who want to try to understand the concepts but don’t need all the equations for fluids and heat exchange etc. etc.
The Stories Clouds Tell (LeMone). I’ve already linked to a couple of Dr. LeMone’s backyard science articles on this blog, but this book actually dates back to a talk she gave in the late 1980s. It was first published by the American Meteorological Society and recently updated and re-released and it is beautiful. Like watching clouds? Want to know what they mean in terms of weather? This book has that information, plus very clear descriptions and diagrams of how clouds form, plus some amazing photos. If there’s ever to be a multimedia tutorial produced from this book, I want to be the one to do it, yes indeed.
Of course this category should be filled in, but I fear that would be an endless task. Check out the Digital Library for Earth System Education (DLESE) and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). You can search for resources by topic and grade level. A visit to the Windows to the Universe site could show you some cool stuff, and will again provide information customizable to a specific grade level. There are oodles more: Google can help you get there, and I’ll post resources here now and again as I come across them.
In the meantime, happy reading and exploring!