Sample Articles

Sample Articles

Here is a sampling of my writing for different audiences and topics. I’m happy to provide any others (see list of articles under Writing) on request.  



Did something from space carve out the strange Carolina Bays?

Current Science (middle school), February 3, 2012

From ground level, Big Bay in South Carolina appears to be nothing more than a swampy, shapeless tangle of bay trees. But from the air Big Bay’s true form is clear. It’s a nearly perfect ellipse, pointing northwest. 

Stranger yet, Big Bay is surrounded by many elliptical (oval) features just like it. In fact, an estimated 500,000 of them, called the Carolina Bays, pockmark the coastal plains form Delaware to Florida. All are pointed in the same direction, like a vast school of swimming fish. 

What formed the Carolina Bay? Most scientists say it was wind and water. Others contend it came from outer space.  

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National Geographic Explorer, (upper elementary), March 2010

You’re soaking in a pool of bubbling hot water.  Plumes of white steam rise from the ground nearby. Just beyond, snow and ice crest a pink mountain. Ahh…it’s just another day in Iceland. 

What’s In a Name?

With a name like Iceland, you’d think ice would be all you could see there.  In fact, many visitors head straight for Iceland’s most fiery sights.  You can watch smoking volcanoes. You can relax in steaming hot springs, or pools of water heated by hot rocks. You can even see geysers spray boiling water in the air.

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Evolution is happening before our eyes in a lizard community in a New Mexico desert.

Current Science (middle school), January 6, 2006

*Winning article of the 2006 AAAS Science Journalism for Children

Another eye-scorching day has dawned at New Mexico’s White Sands national Monument. Erica Rosenblum, squinting behind dark sunglasses, brandishes a fishing pole that has a tiny noose made from dental floss hanging from one end. Slowly, she scans the sandy desert, looking for lizards to lasso. 

Is Rosenblum some kind of Wild West reptile rustler? No, just a scientist at work. Rosenblum, an evolutionary biologist from the University of California (Berkeley), is studying a remarkable transformation that has happened at White Sands.

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Repopulating an Endangered Species Isn’t Easy, Even When You’re Working With Rabbits

Nature Conservancy, Sightings (front of the book section); Winter 2007

Len Zeoli, a graduate student at Washington State University, expected the fieldwork for his doctoral research to last about two years. In March 2007, he began tracking 20 endangered Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits. The mango-sized, sagebrush munching animals—one of the rare rabbit species to dig its own burrow—had been bred and raised in captivity and released on a 3,500-acre plot of state land in eastern Washington.

But Zeoli’s field time was to end a few short months later.

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What caused the Deepwater Horizon disaster?

Current Science, January 7, 2011

The sun had just set over the Gulf of Mexico on April 20 last year when a fireball suddenly lit the sky about 66 kilometers (41 miles) off the shore of Louisiana. A massive explosion had ignited the oil drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. Eleven workers were killed in the explosion. The survivors fled by lifeboat or leapt into the gulf six stories below. 

The inferno blazed out of control for two days before the rig sank. Then the bad news got worse. On the seafloor, a mile underwater, oil was gushing from the broken top of the well. The spill surged into the record books as the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history. 

What went wrong exactly? And how can similar disasters be kept from happening again? 

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A powerful earthquake toppled San Francisco 100 years ago this month.

National Geographic Explorer (upper elementary ), April 2006

Eleanor Watkins needed no alarm clock on April 18, 1906. Nor did most of her neighbors in San Francisco. They were jolted awake at 5:12 a.m. “I was wakened by the crash of falling furniture, and a rocking, heaving house,” Watkins later wrote. The violent shaking lasted less than a minute. Yet it seemed much longer.

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WRC media, for high-school supplementary material, 2005 (one of 15 short pieces for this project)

Arcata, California, May 2005: Just when you think you’ve seen it all, here comes Duane Flatmo’s latest kinetic sculpture: 780-pounds of colorful ears, teeth, giant winking eyes, and bicycle parts. And like all kinetic sculptures, it moves. Flatmo calls this one “Extreme Makeover.”

Inside Extreme Makeover, four people pedal as hard as they can on bicycle-like machines. Nearby, a 2-story cat moves slowly across the sand. There’s a mega-lizard, too, crawling out of the Eel River. It’s the annual Arcata to Ferndale Kinetic Sculpture Race! With a wink of its oddball eyeballs, Extreme Makeover rolls ahead.

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32 page book, Sally Ride Science Key Concepts in Earth Science series, 2011, 6th grade level

In your World (Introduction)

Picture something old. Perhaps it’s a famous old building. Perhaps it’s a gnarled old tree. These might be hundreds of years old. That’s pretty old, right? Now try to imagine something billions of years old. Our home, Earth, is 4.6 billion-yes, billion!-years old. That’s so old, it’s mind boggling.

Nearly one billion years passed before simple single-celled life took shape. Another 3 billion years went by before worms wiggled onto the scene. 

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Right from the put-in, the Rogue displays its character: rambunctious one minute, placid the next, and steeped in the colorful history of the Old West. 

Chapter 14 of Paddlesports, Discovery Channel and Insight Guides, 2000, 224 pp., edited (and partly written) by Beth Geiger

How can a river named Rogue have such an agreeable personality? Though it dishes out plenty of whitewater excitement, the Rogue’s craggy banks are sweetened by the blossoms of wild azaleas. Its evergreen forests open to sun-dappled meadows and golden sandbars. Otters caper in velvety rapport; killdeer and water ouzels parade gravel bars; and steelhead trout flash like strands of silver in its emerald pools. The place is an amenable as it is dramatic. 

The explanation for the Rogue’s unusual charm is simple. 

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WRC media, for high-school supplementary material, 2005 (one of 15 short pieces for this project)

Searles Lake, in the Mojave Desert, California, isn’t exactly a beautiful body of water. It’s mostly salt-crusted ooze. The ooze smells like a combination of rotten eggs, decayed fish, and old cheese. It has a pH of 9.8—about the same as bleach. To top things off, Searles Lake contains extreme levels of deadly arsenic.

Incredibly, there’s one organism that loves living in the poisonous ooze of Searles Lake. 

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