Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved being outdoors and learning about science. My dad was a high school science teacher, so I think he had a lot to do with it! My best memories from my childhood are camping with my family, mostly around lakes in Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, but a few times we drove down to Florida and camped right on the beach! I’ve always loved being outdoors and learning about plants and animals.
I loved learning about science at school, too. So when I went to college, I decided that I wanted to be a science teacher. When I finished college, I got a job teaching middle school science at Northridge Local Schools in Dayton, Ohio. This was the same district where my dad taught, which was pretty cool! Then I got married and moved to Cincinnati where I found a job teaching third-grade science lab at Mason City Schools. I had always loved picture books, and while teaching elementary school, I used them often to help kids connect with science.
At Mason, I started writing science lessons with my friend Karen Ansberry (who loves science and picture books as much as I do). We sent some of our lessons to the National Science Teachers Association to see if they would want to publish them so other teachers could use them…and they did! Karen and I call these books Picture-Perfect Science because the lessons use picture books to teach science. We are excited that teachers in elementary schools all over the country are using our lessons!
My husband Jeff, who I have known since elementary school, loves science and nature, too. He is a chemical engineer, so we have lots of conversations about science at home. Jeff also loves the outdoors: boating, fishing, hiking, and backpacking are his favorite activities. We have a young son, Jack, who loves science, too…naturally. We enjoy being outdoors together and have an assortment of animals at home.
I got the idea for this book series while I was on vacation on Sanibel Island, which has beaches covered with seashells. I had collected seashells many times with my mom, and we had always admired their beauty. But this time, I started wondering about where they come from and how they are made, so I did some research. I learned some fascinating things about mollusks, the animals that make shells. I realized that after learning about the shells, I would never look at them the same way again. The next time I saw a seashell, I would see it with “new eyes.” I wanted to share these learnings with others, and that’s what these books are all about – learning about an ordinary natural object or phenomenon so that the next time you see it, you will see the extraordinary in it. These books are designed to be shared with a child and an adult - be it a teacher, parent, or friend - so not only will you know more about the natural object the next time you see it, you will have the memory of sharing it with someone special.