Skylar’s and Scout’s Favorites

Rediscover the joy, excitement, and mystery
of the world we live in.”
Rachel Carson

Skylar’s Five Favorite Scientists

  • Maria Sibylla Merian – Maria lived in Germany, over 350 years ago. The people there at that time did not know about the life cycle of butterflies. They believed butterflies were made from mud, not from caterpillars. And that they were associated with witchcraft. People who studied them could even be put in jail, or worse – burned at the stake. But Maria was fascinated. Even as a child she secretly collected caterpillars and eggs, to watch them grow. She created beautifully detailed paintings of them in all their life cycle stages. She was one of the first in Europe to do so, and her drawings helped people understand for the first time that butterflies actually came from caterpillars, not mud. As an adult she traveled to dangerous tropical rain forests, studying and drawing caterpillars and butterflies in their natural environment. To see Maria Sibylla Merian’s drawings and learn more, check out:
  • Rachel Carson was a writer and scientist who wrote beautifully about the wonders of nature. She studied the use of chemical pesticides, and through her writings brought awareness of their dangers. Her writings also helped grow the modern day environmental movement. For more information about Rachel Carson, check out:
    • The Sense of Wonder, by Rachel Carson (author), Nick Kelsh (illustrator), as written especially for sharing with children Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World, by Laurie Lawlor (author), Laura Beingessner (illustrator)
    • http://www.rachelcarson.org/RachelsTraces.aspx
  • Jane Goodall lived among the chimpanzees of Gombe, Tanzania, in Africa for nearly 30 years, studying them as a scientist, neighbor and friend. No one had ever studied them this way before. From her research people learned for the first time that chimpanzees make and use tools, and form complex social relationships. This makes them far more like humans than people had ever believed. For more information about Jane Goodall, check out:
  • Katherine Johnson loved numbers even as a child. A highly gifted mathematician, she worked as a human “computer” for the US space program. Computers as we know them today did not yet exist, so the human computers did all the amazingly complex math calculations manually. She played a critical role putting humans in space and on the moon for the first time. Even when electronic computers began to be used, astronaut John Glenn famously refused to go on his Friendship 7 space flight unless Katherine Johnson double-checked and approved the electronic computer’s calculations. For more information about Katherine Johnson, check out:
  • Sally Ride was one of the first six American women ever selected to train to become astronauts. Until then, all American astronauts had been male, and they were jet pilots, not scientists. She became the first American woman to travel in space. As a scientist mission specialist on two Challenger shuttle flights into space, she was able to operate equipment, do scientific experiments and go on spacewalks. For more exciting information about Sally Ride, check out:

Scout’s Favorite Pilot

  • Neil Armstrong – Engineer, jet pilot and astronaut. Neil Armstrong was the first man to land a spacecraft on the moon and first to walk on the moon. He and his Apollo 11 team blasted off to the moon in the command module Columbia, with the Eagle landing module attached. When they got near the moon, the team climbed into the Eagle, which Neil then piloted down to the moon’s surface, a dangerous mission indeed. Upon landing, his first words, broadcast live around the world, were:

“That’s one small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind.”

A support structure from the Eagle still stands on the moon, near the American Flag they also left standing. On one of the support structure’s legs a plaque reads:

HERE MEN FROM PLANET EARTH
FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
JULY 1969 A. D.
WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND”


To learn more about Neil Armstrong, check out:

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