Geologist & Oceanographic Cartographer
Continental drift, the theory of how the continents move on the earth's surface, was proposed in the early 1900s. It was initially dismissed and the man who proposed it, Alfred Wegener, was ridiculed. In Ocean Speaks - How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean's Biggest Secret, by Jess Keating and Illustrated by Katie Hickey, you learn how in 1957, that all changed. Marie Tharp mapped the ocean floor and in the process found the evidence to support Wegener's theory.
I love a picture book that details the hidden role a female scientist played in an important discovery. This book, with fantastically detailed illustrations and an engaging narrative, is the perfect introduction for any elementary or middle school geology unit. It is also the perfect book to illustrate the obstacles women faced within the scientific community and how little recognition these women received. Marie Tharp's work revolutionized the field of earth science.
Here are some primary source documents to use with your students:
The Library of Congress image of Marie Tharp's map: Manuscript painting of Heezen-Tharp "World ocean floor" map by Berann
Marie Tharp explains in her own words how she came to be a scientist, and what it was like to chart the bottom of the sea when so little was known about it: Marie Tharp’s Adventures in Mapping the Seafloor, In Her Own Words.
Here are some additional materials to use online or in your classroom:
National Geographic article and video (This animation by Rosanna Wan for the Royal Institution tells the fascinating story of Marie Tharp’s groundbreaking work to help prove Wegener’s theory.): How One Brilliant Woman Mapped the Ocean Floor’s Secrets.
Earth Institute Columbia University article : 8 Surprising Facts About Marie Tharp, Mapmaker Extraordinaire