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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

East Middle School, Braintree -- Nov. 30

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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.

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