A local teacher's new book takes a scientific look at such tabloid topics as Bigfoot and UFOs.
Thanks to Deerfield School teacher Tom Christie, elementary students are learning more about Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs.
It might sound like he's replaced Weekly Readers with the National Enquirer. But he's actually helping students investigate scientific enigmas through his latest book, "Mysteries of Science."
Good Apple, a division of Simon and Schuster, just published the activity book. Christie explained why he decided to focus on such bizarre topics as mermaids, the Bermuda Triangle and the mythical utopia of Atlantis.
"I wanted to get students to see that science is more than this little class that they take," Christie said. "I wanted to try to spark some interest in students to do some investigating."
Christie's book offers some possible explanations for mysteries like the legendary mermaid.
"A seal, for example, is inquisitive," Christie wrote. "When it hears strange sounds, such as a human voice, it may thrust its head above the surface (of the water) and look around. It could easily be mistaken for a human creature in dim light or a mist."
Christie then suggests some activities for students, such as designing an informational poster on sea animals that have been mistaken for mermaids.
His book also looks at the strange behavior of lemmings, alchemy, astrology and horoscopes, black holes, the Great Pyramids of Egypt and the Piltdown Man, the supposed "missing link" in the evolutionary chain.
Some mysteries surrounded "Mysteries of Science" itself, such as why the publishers decided to print the book now and not earlier.
Christie said five of the subjects he explores originally were five separate articles that he hoped could be printed in children's magazines. However, when he submitted them to the publisher in 1976, "they sent it back and said, 'We don't want this. It's not what we're looking for,'" Christie said.
When he dug the articles up again earlier this year, they asked Christie to develop the "Mysteries of Science" concept into a book.
The other mystery occurred when the publisher complained that preliminary copies of the book kept disappearing.
"As it turns out, people were picking up the book to read it and then taking it," Christie explained.
Good Apple already is prepared to publish Christie's "More Mysteries of Science," which will look at such things as dreams, holograms and memory. That book is due out in April.
Good Apple published another activity book by Christie, "Global Alert," in 1992. That book focuses on environmental issues.