Sunday, January 6, 2013

Why the Beagle?

There are certainly easier travel books with which to begin a project. "The Voyage of the Beagle" reveals Charles Darwin as an energetic young man, full of wonder and willing to take chances. He writes of the injustices of slavery and gives first hand accounts of the genocide of indigenous people. Darwin's geologic theories on island formation and crustal uplift are remarkable considering that the plate tectonic theory was proposed more than one hundred years after his publication. Many people associate Charles Darwin with a specific place - The Galapagos Islands. For the longest time I dreamed of some day visiting these "enchanted islands." Of seeing the marine iguana or diving with sea lions.
So you see another reason for starting with the Beagle. The Galapagos Islands are a cool place. Last March I had this big idea. Simply put - I want people to read great books. In my marine science class I have used Google Earth to entice students to read. For some students this method of reading simply becomes a treasure hunt for others it sparks an interest in oceanography or marine biology. But for most the experience of watching videos, reading about related topics and viewing satellite imagery results in greater retention of details. When former marine science students are in study hall or physics class the following year, I ask them questions about Joshua Slocum's "Sailing Alone Around the World" and they are able to recall details that I included in Google Earth activities. That encourages me to continue teaching with maritime literature. The big idea was to choose classic maritime books and make a website and have other teachers try this method and give fed back and improve the way the content is delivered. In order to do this I reached out to my friend Boele. Last March I called him and explained the idea. Much to my relief he didn't hesitate and thought it would be a great project. Boele brings to this project his creativity and technical ability. In this website Boele will give technical updates. I will post on matters relating to the activities and books selected.