Recognize the finch? It’s one of the famous Darwin finches, which he collected on his voyage to the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s. As a result of that voyage, and from observations of those birds and other animals on the islands, Charles Darwin began to put together a groundbreaking theory that would explain the scientific process by which species change. We call that theory evolution, and Sylvia A. Johnson tells the story of the development of the theory in brilliant detail in TFCB’s Shaking the Foundation: Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution. It’s fascinating to read how much the man struggled, not only with historical preconceptions about the origins of life but also with his own religious faith, to flesh out a dramatically new world view.
It’s worth noting that at the NSTA conference in Texas last month, presenters made it clear that evolution maintains a solid place in the science curriculum as part of the Next Generation Science Standards. Shaking the Foundation is a great book for introducing students to this key scientific concept, to the history of science, and to the debate that continues to swirl around evolution. Paired with Deborah Heiligman’s portrait of the Darwin marriage in Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith, and with Peter Sis’s amazing nonfiction picture book Tree of Life: Charles Darwin, Johnson’s Shaking the Foundation provides dramatic insight into how personal experience, science, and religious faith intersected in one man’s life.
Check in again in two weeks for more from TFCB!