Are you looking for a way to share some of the human stories behind scientific breakthroughs? Come See the Earth Turn is a book that does just that! Léon Foucault was born on September 18, 1819. He was very weak at birth and when he was young he was very slow in school and needed lots of assistance. As he grew older, he found that he had a special talent for building things. Suddenly his slowness was an advantage since he was able to be so precise! His mother wanted him to be a surgeon, but Léon left medical school to follow his dream of becoming a scientist. He enjoyed working with microscopes and cameras to study light and actually took the first photograph of the sun. He also managed to measure the speed of light more accurately than it had ever been measured before.
At this time in history, scientists believed that the earth spins on its axis, but they didn’t know how to prove this. One day, Léon was working in his workshop and bumped into his lathe, and when he saw how parts of the machine kept moving, he realized how he could prove that the earth spins on its axis. He worked and worked and finally was able to show his experiment to other scientists. After he set his pendulum in motion, it slowly began to move away from a line that had been marked on the floor. Everyone could see that the pendulum was swinging independently and the earth was rotating beneath it.
Lori Mortensen has told Foucault’s story well and also includes an author’s note, a glossary, and a bibliography that includes several websites that illustrate Foucault’s experiment. Raúl Allén’s illustrations are a combination of pencil and watercolor with some digital editing, and the result is a unique mix of historical and modern looks. Some of the pages have picture boxes within the picture, giving the book a sort of graphic novel feel. These pictures will especially appeal to older students who will also understand the scientific concepts more than younger ones might.
Come See the Earth Turn is a perfect example of a picture book that can be used with students of all ages. Of course younger children will enjoy the story, but this would be a great addition to an older child’s science studies, both for the biographical and the scientific information. I think it’s also an amazing example of how sometimes very complex problems can be solved with a simple start–a very good lesson for readers of any age!