Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America's Own Backyard (Scientists in the Field)

by Mary Kay Carson (Author)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade
America's National Parks are protected places and have become living museums for as many as 270 million visitors per year! In addition, researchers are able to perform long term studies of a wide number of subjects from salamanders the size of thumbnails to gigantic geothermal geysers. These parks are natural laboratories for scientists. Did you know that Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming sits on top of an active (and very large) volcano? This volcano is monitored and studied on a daily basis, not only as a means of protection (though it seems a long way off from erupting) but also as a way of understanding how the environment changes and influences what goes on deep underground. The scientists profiled in The Park Scientists also study grizzly bears in Yellowstone, the majestic Sagauro catci in Arizona, and fireflies in Tennessee -- and suggest many ways for the average reader of any age to help out. The emphasis here is twofold: the great science that happens everyday in these important, protected spaces, and the fact that you can visit all of them and participate in the research. It's backyard science at its biggest and best in this resourceful addition to the Scientists in the Field series!

More books in the series - See All

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 4-8—This entry in this popular series focuses on the study of selected plants, animals, and geologic formations in three of our most famous national parks, which are akin to "natural laboratories and living museums." It all begins in Yellowstone National Park, where hydrothermal activity and its effects are astutely explained. Next, the history, current status, and study of the famous park grizzly bears are carefully detailed. Exploration and examination of giant saguaro cacti and the elusive Gila monster are the focus in the section on Saguaro National Park, which includes a description of "BioBlitz" through which everyday citizens and students can assist in park research programs through 2016. The Great Smoky Mountains is home to more than 30 species of salamanders, and they, plus the equally fascinating fireflies of the region, are targeted in the final chapters. Pertinent, attention-grabbing, full-color photographs and captions, maps, infrared images, and diagrams accompany the fascinating, informative text in each section. Featured experts provide primary-source information for each topic covered. The introductory map of all national parks is missing two in Colorado, but that is a quibble. Overall, this is a well-written, unique, carefully organized treat for nature lovers and investigators.—Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO

Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Mary Kay Carson

Mary Kay Carson is the author of dozens of books for kids and teachers about space, weather, nature, and other science and social studies topics. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Tom Uhlman has been a freelance photographer for twenty-five years. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Visit his website at

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2014
Scientists in the Field
Age Range
10 - 12 years

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