Writer, scientist and humanitarian, Rachel Carson is celebrated as one of our country’s greatest nature writers and a woman who spoke out about concerns she felt strongly about, even in the face of harsh criticism.
In a lesson from PBS’ American Experience history series, students discover who Rachel Carson was and why she felt compelled to write Silent Spring by analyzing the fable — a beautifully written cautionary tale — in the first chapter of her book. Students examine the impact of her fable, discuss these issues, learn about DDT, and better understand Carson’s impact on the environmental movement in this lesson aligned to National Education Standards from the National Council Teachers of English and the National Science Education Standards.
Among many resources, you’ll find background information, starter questions, enriching vocabulary and media resources such as:
- An illustrated timeline from the Smithsonian Institute’s “Forces of Change: Atmosphere” that takes students from 400,000 BC into the 21st century.
- Duke University’s Chemical Studies website where students can discover the extent of pesticide in our environment
This comprehensive lesson for grades 5-8 in language arts and science also provides hands-on activities, a wrap-up exercise and an extension that connects students to other literary and historic figures, allows them to graft current data on birds of prey, and more.