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Meet the woman who mapped the Ocean Floor - Mary Tharp

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

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:




Here are some additional materials to use online or in your classroom:






In this time of online learning, here is a video of Maureen Raymo from Columbia University reading "Ocean Speaks".




Check out author Jess Keating's web site to learn more and purchase a copy. I would highly recommend this book for your elementary classroom and school library!












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