Marco the Molecule: Water Adventure and Activity Book is the latest educational workbook by Rick Reynolds, a Portland educator who works to connect children to nature through Engaging Press and Engaging Every Student, LLC. In 2010, he published The Evergreen Twins Activity Book: 40+ Eco-Activities, Games, and Outdoor Adventures, which I posted about here.
I met Rick at the 2012 Better Living Home, Garden & Lifestyle Show in March, where he was promoting his books and educational services:
Marco is a water molecule who loves to share how importance he is to our environment: “Join Marco the Molecule for his 4 BILLION year-long adventure! As a water molecule, life is almost never dull. He sometimes gets stuck in a glacier or underground for years on end, but most of the time he gets to have a blast riding the ocean currents and exploring the always-changing water cycle. He might be eaten in a leaf by a caterpillar and then somehow find himself in a beautiful rainbow on the other side of the world not long after. Fully illustrated and filled with humor to engage all ages, the 7 parts of his water adventure story are followed by a variety of enjoyable activities designed to reinforce key terms and concepts such as evaporation, condensation, precipitation, transpiration, runoff, and erosion.”
More than just teaching kids about the water cycle, Reynolds instills a sense of connection to the natural world. “Be like Marco and help plants grow, animals thrive, and Earth become a more beautiful place.” Learning is participatory. The goal is not to fill a small head (or in the case of my son, a huge noggin!) with a list of facts, but to change attitudes. While learning about atoms and molecules, water vapor and evaporation, clouds and condensation, gravity and precipitation, osmosis and transpiration, and the different states of matter, one realizes how water (Marco and his countless friends) is crucial to life on Earth. “He might very, VERY small, but his adventures through the water cycle make the planet’s vast web of life possible.”
And just like Marco is only one of many water molecules that are necessary, our children are just some of many others the world over who are necessary to the health of our lives. With a story like Marco the Molecule and the associated activities, children can better grasp their small yet important place in the world.
Rick summed up his reasons for writing environmental education books wonderfully on his blog:
My motivation—apart from the fact that Marco’s adventures are a blast to write and illustrate—is to inspire all ages, from the very young to adults, to better appreciate water and how it has transformed our world. From this understanding flows concern for the environment and a desire to conserve our precious resources like water. We can learn countless statistics about pollution, desertification, and all of the other challenges facing our world, but without the emotional component, like the connection than can be forged with a favorite endangered species in a local ecosystem or a fictional character like Marco, we will too often fail to act. This moment in history is a crucial one, when each of us—young and old—must do our part to protect our beautiful Earth for the generations of humans and other organisms to follow. By sharing Marco and other characters that all ages can connect with, such as the EverGreen Twins, I hope to help ignite a passion for conservation that compels people to act, not out of duty or guilt, but out of love for what they care about most.
Thank you, Rick, for your fun books and passion for connecting children to nature!