Thursday, March 20, 2008

Poetry and Science

If you’re a regular Book Links subscriber, you may have already received your March issue. This time my “Everyday Poetry” column is focused on “’Doing’ Science with Poetry.” I’ve identified poetry books and activities for each of the seven categories of the National Science Education Standards for the curriculum, K-12.

Science as Inquiry
Physical Science
Life Science
Earth and Space Science
Science and Technology
Science in Personal and Social Perspective
History and Nature of Science

Here’s just an excerpt to whet your appetite.

“At first glance it may seem odd to combine science and poetry, but they share one major attribute in common: the importance of keen observation. Poetry offers highly charged words and vivid imagery that tap the essence of a subject using sensory language. Poetry’s brevity, conceptual focus, and rich vocabulary make it a natural teaching tool for connecting with curricular content….

One Sample Curricular Area: Physical Science
As we introduce children to physical science and the concepts of motion, matter, energy, atoms, light, heat, electricity, and magnetism, poetry can help pave the way. The rhyming shape poems of Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham explore the different ways that light appears in our world, from the flicker of birthday candles to a flash of lightning. Read them aloud by flashlight for added effect. A natural complement is Anna Grossnickle Hines poetry book, Winter Lights (Greenwillow 2005) or Marilyn Singer’s Central Heating: Poems About Fire and Warmth (Knopf 2005).

Three of Jane Yolen’s poetry collections look at water in its varying forms: Once upon Ice and Other Frozen Poems (Boyds Mills Press 1997), Snow, Snow: Winter Poems for Children (Boyds Mills Press 1998) and Water Music: Poems for Children (Boyds Mills 1995), all illustrated with stunning photographs. For more “wet” poetry, consult Joan Bransfield Graham’s Splish Splash (Houghton Mifflin 2001), Constance Levy’s Splash!: Poems of Our Watery World (Orchard 2002), and Ralph Fletcher’s Water Planet: Poems about Water (Arrowhead, 1991). Many of these water poems lend themselves to reading aloud along with props such as soap bubbles, Christmas tree “icicles,” or audiotapes of waterfalls or the ocean surf.

One Sample “Science” Poem:
by Valerie Worth

The stained,
Bucket tips out
Orange rind

Eggshell ivory,
Garnet coffee-
Grounds, pearl
Wand of bared
Chicken bone:

Worked back soon
To still more
Curious jewelry
Of chemical
And molecule.

from All the Small Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994)

I’m also tickled to report that my previous Book Links article on “Pairing Poems Across Cultures” is now reprinted at PaperTigers as part of their March/April emphasis on poetry.

And for more poetry, check out the Poetry Friday Round Up at Wild Rose Reader.

Picture credit:


MmeT said...

Have you read any Lisa Westberg Peters? She wrote a wonderful free verse explanation of evolution in Our Family Tree and poems about geology in Earthshake. She is working right now on a poetry book about volcanoes that will be illustrated by Steve Jenkins.

Deerie said...

I just found this and thought it was wonderful! I was working on a syllabus for an intercession class I wish to create: Using Poetry Across the Curriculum.
This was a wonderful page to find! It will be fun browsing through your blog.