Editor’s note: This story was originally written by Samantha Grenrock on UF/IFAS News.
Florida Sea Grant agent Maia McGuire has at least one tried-and-true way to get kids interested in science: big, recognizable animals that spark a child’s imagination and curiosity.
McGuire, who works for the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension in St. Johns and Flagler counties, used this strategy when she co-authored a new book, “One in a Thousand: Those Amazing Sea Turtles,” with Ruth Francis-Floyd, a UF/IFAS Extension veterinarian in the UF College of Veterinary Medicine.
The book is now available through the UF/IFAS Extension bookstore for $15.
“One in a Thousand” is filled with color illustrations by Dawn Witherington, a noted wildlife artist and naturalist in Florida. For a limited time, books can be purchased as a gift set with a plush turtle toy for $19.95.
“As with our previous two projects — one on manatees, another on whales and dolphins — we featured these creatures to engage students, while raising awareness about threats to these animals and the ways people can help protect them,” McGuire said.
When McGuire and her team began developing a sea turtle science curriculum, they found that there were no books on the topic for upper-elementary and lower-middle-school readers.
So they decided to write their own, winning a grant from the highly competitive Helping Sea Turtles Survive program, which is funded by the Florida sea turtle license plate.
In addition to McGuire and Dr. Francis-Floyd, the book’s co-authors include Mark Flint, assistant professor of veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State University, and Jaylene Flint, a research scholar affiliated with the University of Queensland.
The authors present complex scientific concepts in ways both children and adults can understand, McGuire said. The book’s ten chapters cover everything from sea turtle biology to what readers can do to help these ocean-going reptiles.
“Sea turtles have existed for millions of years, but today are among the most endangered creatures in our oceans. Their future existence depends on widespread public support for research and conservation efforts,” McGuire explained.
“One in a Thousand” and accompanying lesson plans are also available as free online downloads.