EarthView team bios, guidelines, and more.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

East Middle School, Braintree -- Nov. 30

(Learn more about Lat/Long, including how to look up by address

The EarthView team has enjoyed frequent visits to both East and South Middle Schools in Braintree, both for school-day programs and for evening Family Geography Night programs. We find a lot of interest in geography among students, teachers, parents, and administrators at both schools, and enjoy finding out what is currently being studied each time we visit.

During a visit to South Middle School a fortnight ago, we challenged Mr. Henry and his students to develop some activities relating to the latitude and longitude of the two schools. Mr. Henry was part of the first group of teachers to be trained in our EarthView Institute, so we know that even if the holiday has not allowed enough time to respond to our challenge (see the blog post for our November 16 visit), something interesting will come of it soon.

During our visit this week, we will find the location of one of the most interesting geography stories of the week -- the disappearing island of the Coral Sea! We first heard the story of this island on The World from Public Radio International, in a report called An Island That Isn't All There (we recommend reading and listening to the story).

1952 Italian map showing Sandy Island
PRI's The World
The island has appeared on maps for more than two centuries, but although a sea mountain makes the ocean somewhat shallower than the surrounding ocean floor (1400 meters), it cannot have been an island in historic times. The source of the error is not yet understood, but librarians at the Auckland Museum have been able to show find some very early references, which they report on the museum blog.

Apparently unsure what to do with such an unusual cartographic error, Google Maps currently shows the location as something like a virtual hole in the map -- as of the time of this writing, soon after the undiscovery.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

South Middle School, Braintree -- November 16

(Learn more about Lat/Long

Throughout several years of the EarthView program, we have enjoyed several visits to South Middle School and East Middle School in Braintree, and are happy to be returning to both this month, starting with South. (Click on the EarthView Braintree search to see all of the blog posts about our visits, which include information about the geography of Braintree itself.) We enjoy these schools because of the great geography teachers and creative geography students, plus the support that geography receives from the families and school administrators. It is great to have two schools working together to learn geography.

We hope to help by seeing how many activities the geography students and teachers can do using our EarthView Experience map and the coordinates of the two schools. For example, what is located exactly halfway between the two schools? How far apart are the schools, based on the coordinates, the "ruler" in Google Maps, and various routes between the two? How far apart are they in time? What is on the opposite side of the earth from each?

The proverbial gauntlet has been thrown down. We will post a report from the two schools after we visit East Middle in a fortnight. Meanwhile, here are those coordinates:

42º 13' 14" N
70º 59' 20" W

View EarthView Experience in a larger map

Hurricane Sandy (see recent posts for some of the geography of the storm) had a geographic impact that some area birdwatchers were watching for. A number of birds, most notably the Northern Lapwing, was carried by the storm far from its usual range.

This member of the plover family was sighted in various places from Cape Cod to Middleborough and Halifax, Massachusetts. It is normally found only in Eurasia, as shown below. It spends summers and breeding seasons toward in northern parts of its range (shown yellow), with winters spent to the south (shown blue). It is resident in much of Europe, meaning that it is found year-round in these areas (shown green).

From WikiMedia -- click to enlarge

Monday, November 12, 2012

Spellman Museum, Weston -- November 12

42° 20' 55" N

71° 18' 26" W

Learn more about Lat/Long

(UPDATE: See photos from the visit below.)

EarthView is part of a public event at the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History, which is located on the campus of Regis College in Weston. In fact, since the museum does not have high ceilings, the college is sharing its field house for the morning.

View Larger Map
The stamp museum and geographers have been working together for many years, because stamps are not only fun, they are geographic! Stamps are tiny snapshots of the cultural geography of places, and they also represent the connections between places. Read more about geography and the Spellman Museum in our February article.

EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan has had several reasons to be a fan of the Spellman Museum since learning about it a few years ago. First of all, he attended a workshop on using stamps in teaching, which he calls "stamp camp." Second, he knows that the museum does a lot of fun and educational programs for people of all ages. Finally, he learned that the museum was dedicated by Cardinal Spellman on the day he (Dr. Hayes-Bohanan) was born!

Students at Foxborough Regional Charter School display some
of their 1.5 million stamps.
Our first visit takes place on Veteran's Day (as observed), which is also known as Remembrance Day. This weekend also marks the anniversary of Kristallnacht, a pogrom early in the history of the Holocaust. Students at Foxborough Regional Charter School have been studying this terrible history, and collecting postage stamps to represent the eleven million people who were killed. After four years of collecting, this project reached a milestone of 1.5 million stamps this weekend, representing all of the children who were victims. The project was described in a Boston Globe article, and is similar to the project described in the excellent documentary film Paper Clips.

Photos from the Visit

EarthView's visit to Spellman Museum was quite a success. The museum staff publicized the event and organized the visitors, and provided stamp activities that complemented the EarthView program beautifully. A steady stream of visitors enjoyed EarthView -- and the stamps -- throughout the morning. The athletic and facilities staff at Regis College graciously provided access to the college gym, which was an excellent venue.

Photographer, geographer, and former EarthView Wrangler Ashley Costa accompanied Drs. Hayes-Bohanan and Domingo for the Spellman Museum outing. Some of her photos are posted below; the rest will be on Flickr soon.

Stamps convey many geography lessons, including flag identification.
Participants were able to choose from among thousands of stamps
in making their own world maps.
Visitors placed stamps on blank maps of the world, using place-mat maps
as a guide for finding unfamiliar countries.
The EarthView team enjoyed the scores of visitors, from infants and
toddlers through primary, secondary, and college students.
Visitors also included very knowledgeable philatelists -- some of whom
have been collecting stamps for decades -- who shared some
geography lessons of their own. 
The EarthView team is certainly looking forward to its next visit to the Spellman Museum. Meanwhile, we encourage everyone to visit the Spellman Museum -- even on days when it does not have a giant globe -- for a unique way to learn geography!

Many more of Ashley Costa's photos from the day are in the Spellman-EarthView 2012 photoset on Flickr. Quite a few of these photos were taken from inside Earthview, so identifying some of the locations is a fun challenge.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Mashpee Middle School -- Nov. 9

41° 36' 57" N70° 30' 34" W

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We are glad to be learning to the really big gymnasium at Mashpee Middle School, which we last visited in March of 2011. Please see the post from our previous visit for some interesting information about this unique town.

The town of Mashpee makes it convenient for residents to explore their community through an online Geographic Information System (GIS) hosted by Maps Online. The screenshot below shows the area surrounding the school itself, with identified wildlife habitat, vernal pools, and elevation contours featured. Viewers can examine other features of interest throughout the town and at a variety of scales.

Click to enlarge or make your own map at
Mashpee Maps Online

People throughout the world have been paying attention to the geography of the United States, because our presidential elections are decided by the Electoral College. Every major news organization made interactive maps available, such as this map from the New York Times, which is accompanied by maps for Senate and House seats as well.

As we all know, the entire Northeast region was recently affected by a major storm. In an earlier post, we described some of the geography related to forecasting for Hurricane Sandy. It became known as Super Storm Sandy because it was "only" a Category One hurricane, but was unusually large and arrived at the same time as a mid-latitude nor'easter storm.
October 28 image as shown by UK Telegraph.
The damage to utilities and transportation was immense, and many of us know people who are still without basic services in their homes in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. A second storm this week made recovery even more difficult. The experience is bringing renewed attention to ideas that geographers and other scientists are proposing for adaptation to the effects of climate change. The sea gate shown below, for example, is one of five ideas for preventing flooding in New York. These and other ideas -- some of which would only work for major cities -- were discussed yesterday on the On Point radio program.

Meanwhile, planning and geography professionals in New York - a bit upriver from the City -- have created Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts. It is both a book published in 2010 and a series of workshops and meetings to help communities prepare for rising water and other consequences of climate change. The next meeting is next week, and it is certain to get a lot of attention!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Burkland & Goode Elementary Schools -- November 2

41° 53' 14"  N
70° 54' 42"  W
41° 53' 12" N
70° 54' 36" W
Learn more about Latitude and Longitude (including how to find them by address)

EarthView returned to the Henry Burkland and Mary Goode Elementary Schools in Middleboro, where one of our wranglers attended as a student!

We always enjoy visiting these schools (which are adjacent to each other), and this time we will have two special events for the afternoon classes. First, film students from Middleboro High School will be filming EarthView as part of a short video about geography. Second, students from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in England visited some of the classes and participated in recording the video.

The MMU students are at Bridgewater State University this year as one of BSU's many exchange programs.

During our visit, one of the second graders asked us about the size of Madagascar, which we were able to look up on the CIA Factbook, a very useful reference work that is actually available for download. To answer his question, the island nation of Madagascar covers 587,000 square kilometers, almost twice the size of the state of Arizona.

MMU students joined the Wranglers for part of the afternoon.
Students from the video production class at Middleborough High School made a brief documentary about our visit.

EarthView at H.B.B. from MET on Vimeo.