Exploring National Parks & Monuments: Students Can Discover National Monuments, National Parks & Natural Wonders

Curriculum Review, January 2009 | Go to article overview

Exploring National Parks & Monuments: Students Can Discover National Monuments, National Parks & Natural Wonders


New book scheduled for March 2009 release ...

What do the Grand Canyon, the Petrified Forest, Lava Beds, and Craters of the Moon have in common? They are all national monuments--places declared national treasures by presidential decree or Congressional vote--and they are all amazing natural wonders. Discover National Monuments, National Parks: Natural Wonders, a book scheduled for release in March, will introduce readers ages 8-12 to the history and science behind some of these amazing natural sites. These phenomena have been created by the forces of wind, fire, water, and time, and each has a fascinating story to tell about America's natural and historical past.

Kids will learn about the earth's natural processes, such as how a coral reef is formed, or what causes volcanoes to erupt. They can also explore these concepts further with hands-on experiments that include making stalactites and discovering how a fiver can erode rock into a canyon. By understanding the science behind the growth of a coral reef or the petrification process at work in fossil formation, kids will feel invested in the future of the natural areas where these phenomenon occur. History, science and fun all combine in Discover National Monuments, National Park: Natural Wonders to grab the attention of kids and enlighten them about the importance of safeguarding our world's natural treasures.

Q & A with Cynthia Light Brown, author of National Monuments, National Wonders

About the Author: Cynthia Light Brown has a master's degree in Earth and Planetary Science and eighteen years experience as an environmental consultant. She is a founding partner and Vice President of Clover Leaf Environmental Solutions and a coach for 5th and 6th grade Odyssey of the Mind teams.

Q. What's so special about National Monuments?

A. National Monuments and National Parks are some of the best places on earth. You can find gorgeous landscapes, unique history, great expanses of wilderness, and a quiet place to think in them. They're amazing places for people to visit, and even better places for wildlife to live. You can visit coral reefs, volcanoes, giant trees, and glaciers--wow!

Q. What's the difference between a National Monument and a National Park?

A. They're similar--they're both special places set aside for natural or cultural reasons. National Monuments tend to be smaller and have one special resource, and they can be designated by the President of the United States. National Parks are usually larger and have many different resources that they're protecting. National Parks must be designated by the United States Congress. Some National Parks, like the Grand Canyon, used to be National Monuments, and I've included some of these in the book. But I wanted to focus on some of the smaller, lesser-known places, that are just as wonderful!

Q. What was the first National Monument you visited?

A. I can't remember exactly, but our family liked to go to historical sites, so it was probably one that focused on history. But I remember the first National Monument/Park that I saw that's described in this book: the Grand Canyon. And I got there in an unusual way--on a bicycle! I bicycled from Boston, Massachusetts with two friends all the way to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, then continued on to San Diego, California. The Grand Canyon was certainly a highlight of the trip. Since then I've been to most of the National Monuments/Parks in this book, and hope to get to all of them.

Q. With all of the National Parks and Monuments, how did you pick these?

A. I wanted to include the Grand Canyon and Muir Woods because they were established in 1908, so they're just celebrating their 100-year anniversary--plus they're both amazing places. …

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