Rachel Carson inspires S. Allegheny 6th-graders
A teacher at South Allegheny Elementary School hopes her 129 sixth-grade science students get encouragement from a book written 50 years ago.
“She was a real strong environmental activist,” Jenna Whitney said about Rachel Carson, a Springdale native who wrote “Silent Spring.”
On Sept. 27, 1962, Carson's indictment of “man's assaults upon the environment (with) lethal materials,” was released by Houghton Mifflin.
“Only (now) has one species, man, acquired significant power to alter the nature of his world,” Carson wrote.
“What she tried to teach the world (is) how (pesticides) could be used in a more intelligent way,” said David Mintz, senior education specialist at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
“It took Rachel Carson years to convince people that this was happening,” education specialist Beth Mulvihill said.
Sixth-graders at the school read excerpts from the book and will participate in monthly projects. First in September was the collection of 2,101 plastic shopping bags.
“We just brought them in from our own houses,” sixth-grader Hayden Bayura said.
“We dropped them off at the Giant Eagle in Oak Park Mall,” Whitney said. “We filled both bins.”
This month's project is collecting pop can tabs for Ronald McDonald House Charities.
Carson was born in 1907, graduated in 1929 from Pennsylvania College for Women, now Chatham University, studied at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory and earned a master's degree from Johns Hopkins University.
She worked for 15 years with the federal government, rising to the role of editor-in-chief of Fish and Wildlife Service publications.
Between 1941 and her death in 1964, Carson authored four books, three dealing with the sea. A 1956 Carson article was adapted in 1965 into the book “The Sense of Wonder.” According to a Carson memorial website, it detailed her philosophy that adults need to nurture a child's inborn sense of wonder about the natural world.
Last December Mintz and Mulvihill came to nurture the wonder of South Allegheny seventh-graders. As was the case then, they visited with a variety of creatures, including an American kestrel falcon, a common musk or stinkpot turtle and a corn snake.
Mintz and Mulvihill use what is called a HIPPO scale to explain factors affecting biodiversity: H for habitat loss, I for invasive species, one P for pollution, another for population and O for overconsumption.
Mulvihill showed a picture of the bog turtle, endangered in part because of the impact of civilization on its environment — and also because people take them home as pets.
As sixth-grade teacher Kari Valletto commented, “When people hear they're rare, they think it's pretty cool.”
There also was discussion of invasive non-native species such as the Asian brown malmorated stinkbug — which has made a resurgence.
“My car was covered in stink bugs when I came out of work (Wednesday),” Valletto said.
The falcon helped explain the effect of pesticides such as DDT on the reproductive ability of birds of prey.
The zoo staffers said DDT was sprayed on plants and absorbed into the muscles of mice and other small animals that ate them. In turn the DDT passed into the eggs of birds that ate the mice.
“The shells would be so weak that they would crack,” Mulvihill said.
She said falcons and other birds of prey have made a comeback since DDT was banned in the United States.
Thursday's trip was the first for the zoo staff's One Degree of Change natural gas vehicle donated by EQT Foundation.
Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1967, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins trade Sutter to Canucks, sign free agent center Fehr
- Le’Veon Bell’s suspension cut by one game
- Pitt’s Blair faces court date on DUI charge
- Five Baldwin men face trial in beating of black man
- Brady’s suspension upheld by Goodell
- Videos spur dozens to protest outside Pittsburgh Planned Parenthood
- Judge lets New Kensington Ten Commandments monument stand
- Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
- IOC urges US to come up with another bid city for 2024 Games
- Inside the Steelers: Ventrone suffers right ankle injury
- Indiana County hazmat crews treat nearly two dozen workers for cadmium exposure at Homer City plant