On this day in 1907, Rachel Carson was born.
Rachel Carson, born on May 27, 1907, loved nature and had a lifelong desire to protect the environment. She was aware of the dangers of DDT and other chemicals and tried to educate the public through articles, pamphlets, and books. Her book Silent Spring warned about the poisons that were everywhere and heightened environmental awareness in people throughout the world.
Introduce your students to Rachel Carson by having a discussion about how chemicals can affect the environment. Show students a picture of a bald eagle and ask them if they have ever heard of DDT. DDT was a pesticide responsible for the decline of eagles in North America from more than half a million in 1872 to only 417 breeding pairs in 1973. At this point, either read a book about Rachel Carson to your class or have them find information about her on the websites listed below. After learning about Rachel Carson, invite students to choose one of these follow-up activities:
- Visit the Ecology Hall of Fame. Write an acrostic poem about one of the environmentalists or use the Bio-Cube interactive to summarize the person's biography.
- Explore the Environmental Movement Timeline. Research and add more recent events to this timeline with the ReadWriteThink Interactive Timeline.
- After researching environmental issues, write a Diamante Poem exploring a before-and-after vision of a particular habitat.
This website is "devoted to the life and legacy of Rachel Carson." It includes her biography, many primary documents, and excellent links.
After learning how DDT affected the eagle population, read about the U.S. laws that now protect eagles. Information about the recovery of bald eagles is also provided on this U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service site.
Learn about the decline of eagles and their recovery on this PBS Nature website. Visitors can view beautiful photographs and meet various members of the eagle family.
This page provides context and excerpts from Silent Spring. Rachel Carson's classic text has been called one of the most important works of the 20th century.