For people to care deeply about conservation, they need to have an emotional connection to the environment. This can spring from a love of nature and birds, memories of happy family times on the beach, or even a beloved story or fictional character. That is why I wrote Marco the Molecule, a story focused on one microscopic water molecule and his 4-billion-year-long adventure. And it is great fun to see students learn important science concepts and meet other learning standards while they are enjoying a good story and entertaining activities.
The miracle of water and how it brings life to our beautiful world cannot be fully appreciated by simply learning about the water cycle. Ideally, people of all ages should visit diverse ecosystems like wetlands and deserts, and investigate how water has transformed those places and the organisms that live there. Whether or not this is possible, stories of those places can engage all ages and offer opportunities to connect with an important message on an emotional level. For example, Marco endures terrifying experiences, but along the way he also has a lot of fun and eventually learns how important he and his water molecule friends are to life on Earth. As I have been sharing the story, it has been so gratifying to see how all ages can empathize with his trials and join in with his jubilations, inspiring deeper connections to him, as well as creating more lasting memories of the importance of water and the water cycle.
The story is fully illustrated and designed for coloring, to engage young people with art, in addition to the story. Activities at the end of the book, such as a crossword puzzle, word search, maze, writing activity, and many more, are designed to reinforce important concepts in enjoyable ways. It even includes a scavenger hunt, for fellow adventurers to find Marco and his friends outside, in diverse places like in the plants and animals they encounter. My hope is that the story and activities will tap into children’s innate sense of wonder about the natural world to further engage them and help them to connect on a deeper level.
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. I am also so pleased that GEF is working hard to educate people about water and making sustainable choices. In particular, the Water and Sustainability online course for high school students and adults, as well as the Sustainable Water Challenge (coming soon) should help inspire youth to make small changes in behavior that can have a big impact on our most valuable resource.Post by Rick Reynolds, M.S.Ed.