The Frog Scientist
Find it at your library or you can ...
Pamela S. Turner
author, Pamela S. Turner
author's website
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Scientists in the Field
Berkeley, California
The Frog Scientist

In this true story, we learn that when Dr. Tyrone Hayes was growing up in South Carolina, he didn’t worry about pesticides in water. He just liked to wade in and collect frogs, snapping turtles, and snakes. Perhaps you do, too?

But when Tyrone grew up and became a scientist, he discovered something frightening. Frogs are not supposed to have a fifth leg sticking out from their chests. More than 1,800 frog species are threatened with extinction. What is happening to these amphibians, and what does this information mean to us?

When frogs develop in water contaminated with tiny amounts of a pesticide called atrazine, some of the males are “feminized”: they grow eggs instead of sperm. Could pesticide use be responsible for some of the drastic decline in amphibian populations? And what are frogs telling us about the health of our environment?

1.   Have you ever peeled back a cornhusk to find an insect inside? Have you cut into an apple and found a worm? How did you feel about eating that food? Do you think it's a good idea to develop chemicals that will prevent insects from crawling into your food? Even if it affects the animals and insects surrounding those growing sites? Which is more important?
2.   Dr. Hayes worked for the company that manufactured and distributed atrazine, one of the chemicals that is meant to protect crops while they're growing. When his research showed him how atrazine affected frogs, he quit his job and started his research over, this time examining the pesticide's effect on frogs. When you've written reports for school, did you come across new information that meant everything you'd been writing about had to be started over? How did this affect your work? What do you think "starting over" meant for Dr. Hayes?
3.   There are many frogs described in Pamela S. Turner's book. Using the US atlas in your car or on your bookshelf, mark where these varieties of frogs live around the country. Do you know what kinds of frogs live in your neighborhood?
4.   Can you make a list of all the animals, birds, and insects that live in your neighborhood? How might they depend on each other? How do you depend on them?
5.   What steps have you and your family taken to protect our environment? Especially the environment in your neighborhood?
When your child has finished reading The Frog Scientist, be sure to check off this book on your booklist, moving towards reading 12 books or 18 books this summer. You can register for a mile marker, our random drawing for several levels of giveaways.
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