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Young Ecologist Resources

Recommended Reading:

Champion: the Comeback Tale of the American Chestnut Tree 
by Sally M Walker
Grades: 5-9
Lexile Level: 1070L

Selected because: Excellent and thorough treatment of the human and natural history of the American Chestnut tree (including economic role) in extremely accessible language. Describes three different restoration efforts (backcrossing, genetic manipulation, and viral manipulation) 
in an understandable and thorough way.

Suggested activities:
Chapters 1 & 2 discuss the history and economics of this tree. Students can create a timeline of events mentioned 
in the text and add others from American history. The timeline can be extended through the remainder of the book 
to cover the history of restoration efforts. Timelines are sometimes represented as rings on a tree, which could be 
a nice visual. 

Specific economic uses are listed in chapter 2. Make a list of the uses of a chestnut tree, research each use and describe modern parallels. Crossover into mathematics: calculate the value of the tree for each use and adjust for modern inflation. How valuable could an acre of healthy chestnut trees be? 

Scientific literacy: three different efforts to save the American chestnut are described in chapters 4-7. Make pro/con tables for each method, and have students select a method to defend in a debate or persuasive writing piece.
Spring After Spring: How Rachel Carson Inspired the Environmental Movement: 
story and illustrations by Stephanie Roth Sisson
non-fiction biography
Grades: Kindergarten - 3rd
Lexile Level: AD: Adult Directed 790L

Selected because: High quality picture books provide a point of interest for all grade levels and reading abilities. Strong female scientific lead, encourages students to take action on their observations and concerns. 

Suggested activities:
Conduct a schoolyard assessment (PDF). Are there areas of the property or management programs that reduce or even damage ecosystems and diversity? Help students investigate ways to take action and implement their plans (persuasive writing, PSA video, presentation before a board or committee, even petitioning to plant habitat enhancements).