Catching The Next Wave

Did you know that December 26 was the 10th anniversary of the devastating Indian Ocean Tsunami? It is a sad reminder that ocean waves can be extremely strong and violent.

In a timely release, Elizabeth Rusch explores the cutting-edge field of using the immense power of ocean waves for generating electricity in The Next Wave: The Quest to Harness the Power of the Oceans (Scientists in the Field Series).

Rusch starts the book with a description of the power of waves, including an example of a cruise ship caught in a powerful storm. She then delves into the early lives of two engineers who are working on converting wave energy into electricity. This part about the “Two Mikes” is perfect for young readers, giving examples of young scientists of similar age or only slightly older and drawing the reader into the story.¬†Rusch then introduces Oregon State University professor Annette von Jouanne and her work. She follows with an overview of the research of several competing groups, showing the progress and setbacks of this interesting field.

Although capturing wave energy would seem like a good solution to our increasing energy needs, Rusch presents a balanced view and rightly points out that the full impact of using wave-energy harnessing devices is not fully known. It is possible the devices, depending on their design, might interfere with ocean wildlife. It is also possible the reduction of the force of waves could make changes in ocean currents and the nearby shoreline. The potential impacts of the devices are being monitored as closely as their ability to generate power.

Elizabeth Rusch is a wonderful writer, and this is a timely and fascinating topic. It does seem, however, that in order to cover a great deal of background and technical information, the scientists and engineers get lost at times. The beauty of the Scientists in the Field series is usually the reader learns about the work of one scientist or a small group of scientists in detail, and this title was not as clearly focused in that regard. Nevertheless, it is a good introduction to an emerging topic and diverging from the formula is not necessarily a flaw.

The Next Wave introduces young readers to an exciting new technology. Youngsters interested in STEM will find it inspiring. You will definitely want to pick up a copy for units on earth science, the ocean, and environmental studies. Adults will also find it a great resource to brush up on a topic they might not have encountered before.


See related activities at Growing with Science

You might also be interested in other books we have reviewed in the Scientists in the Field series


Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Grade Level: 5 – 9
Series: Scientists in the Field Series
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0544099990
ISBN-13: 978-0544099999


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