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Friday, March 22, 2013

World Water Day -- March 22

During our visit to Tenney Grammar School in Methuen, the EarthView team celebrated World Water Day, which has been recognized by the United Nations since 1993. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon explains the importance of the day.

Tenney School's participation in World Water Day has been recognized by the United Nations!

See the UN Water Day Interactive Map

Check out how we celebrated World Water Day inside EarthView!

World Water Day reminds us of the early weeks of 2010, when the EarthView team followed the progress of Katie Spotz and her record-breaking effort to generate awareness of the need for clean water. She raised $150,000 dollars for clean water as she entered the record books. See Row for Water to learn all about her journey.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tenney Grammar School - March 22

42° 43' 52.608" N
    71° 10' 38.7732" W
Learn more about Lat/Long (including how to look them up by address)

The EarthView team is excited to be at Tenney Grammar School in Methuen! We have heard you are studying all about the world in Geography class, specifically your focus on the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. What geographical information have you learned about these continents?




Something you may not have learned about Europe is the recent discovery of fossils, dating back to the time of dinosaurs! A 9 year old girl has recently discovered a new species of pterosaur after taking a walk on the beach. Daisy Morris of England was walking along the Isle of Wight, and saw blackened bones sticking out of the sand. Daisy and her parents immediately brought the fossil to Martin Simpson who is a paleontologist at the University of Southampton. The fossils were examined and paleontologists came to the conclusion that it was a new species of Pterosaur. A pterosaur is a flying reptile that lived among the dinosaurs. The new species of pterosaur was named Vectidraco daisymorrisae, after its 9 year old finder. The Vectidraco daisymorrisae was said to be an expert flyer, living about 145 to 65 million years ago. The Pterosaur was only a foot long, similar to a crow. A new children’s story titled “Daisy and the Dragon” was written by Martin Simpson, shortly after the discovery.

                                                  An illustration of a flying pterosaur.


Today is March 22nd which marks the 16th anniversary since the sighting of Comet Hale-Bopp!

Comet Hale- Bopp was a comet discovered by Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp on July 23, 1995. The center of the comet is estimated to be about 24 miles wide! Hale- Bopp comet set the record for being visible on Earth for 18 months. Although it was visible for 18 months, 16 years ago today on March 22, 1997, Comet Hale- Bopp had its closest approach to Earth! This comet is one of the brightest comets to reach the inner solar system in history. The comet is currently just beyond the orbit of Uranus, but it can still be seen by a telescope. This viewing of Hale- Bopp comet is expected to last until 2020, and then will not return again until the year 4534!

Another fact about today is that it is World Water Day!

How much water do YOU usually use in one day? Did you take a shower? Brush your teeth? Flush the toilet? Wash your hands? Eat food? Drink a water bottle? 
Today is World Water Day! World Water Day was declared by the United Nations General Assembly on March 22, 1993. In order to support World Water Day, people are encouraged to not use their tap water throughout the entire day. The purpose of Water Day is to spread public awareness and encourage water conservation is everyday life. There are billions of people around the world without access to safe drinking water. Many families have to walk far distances just to get a glass of water to drink! Many people are celebrating with different events all over the world, but this year’s official Water Convention will be held today in South Holland hosted by the Government of The Netherlands. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Water Cooperation’. For more information you can visit

How will YOU celebrate World Water Day?       


Monday, March 18, 2013

Cape Verde: Global Crossroads

Southeastern Massachusetts is home not only to EarthView, but also to many thousands of people from the Atlantic island nation of Cape Verde. By some estimates, more Cape Verdeans live in Massachusetts than in Cape Verde itself, because the Cape Verdeans here include people who arrived last week, people whose ancestors arrived on whaling ships more than a century ago, and generations of arrivals in between. Many of those migrants arrived on a ship that can be found in New Bedford Harbor to this day, the Schooner Ernestina, a former whaling ship that became the last vessel to bring migrants to the United States under sail.
Map source: Sandgrains, a film about resource depletion in Cape Verde
This map is more accurate than the current
Google map of the islands, which includes a major error.
The connections between Cape Verde and our region are very strong, but Cape Verde's geographic situation has helped to make it a very cosmopolitan country, with connections in many parts of the world.

One interesting connection that we often mention to EarthView participants is also relevant to the life of Pope Francis, who was elected last week to lead the Roman Catholic church. He was born as Jorge Mario Borgoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1936. His father had been born in Italy, as were earlier generations on his mother's side.

How does this relate to Cape Verde? As with the new pope's family, many workers had migrated from Italy to Argentina in the early twentieth century to work in railroads, steel, and other industries. All of that migration, of course, was by ship, but by the 1930s Italy's dictator Mussolini was interested in an air connection and needed a convenient refueling stop. Cape Verde's first international airport was built by Italy on the island of Sal (meaning Salt) in 1939.

The location at Sal was chosen for several geographic reasons. First, Cape Verde is situated near the direct route from Rome to Buenos Aires (click to enlarge the map below, and you will see that Cape Verde is just to the northeast of the path). Second, the site characteristics of the island of Sal include flat topography in comparison to the other islands. Third, Cape Verde was a territory of Portugal, at that time headed by Mussolini's fellow dictator, Salazar.
Click to enlarge. Get more flight paths from
GPS Visualizer
The other line on this map shows a more personal connection for the EarthView team. Dr. Domingo is from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, and when visiting home he flies from Boston to Johannesburg. That flight can be done in several ways, one of which is to stop for refueling in Cape Verde, as Sal is very close to the direct route -- even closer than it is to the Rome-Buenos Aires route. In addition to Dr. Domingo's layovers, the EarthView Experience includes Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's BSU study tour to Cape Verde in 2006, with another planned in 2014.

The Space Shuttle never landed in Cape Verde, but the long runway at
Sal was among its designated emergency landing strips.
One result of Cape Verde's many connections to other places is that Cape Verdeans are among the most polyglot people on the planet. We often meet children from Cape Verde who speak three, four, or even five languages. All Cape Verdeans speak Cape Verdean Creole and most speak Portuguese as well. Those from Sal may speak Italian, and connections to the Canary Islands and Senegal make Spanish and French common as well. And of course the Cape Verdeans we meet have learned English, either in school back home or when they arrive here.

Both of the routes shown on the Atlantic map above are Great Circle routes, which always represent the most direct route between two points. On a globe, such routes can be found by holding a string on both points, pulling it snug. Inside EarthView, we can represent them with our laser pointers. On most flat maps, these direct paths are represented as curves, sometimes with surprising results. Airline routes sometimes differ from great-circle paths because of prevailing winds or storms, but planning usually begins by calculating the shortest distance.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sharon Middle School -- March 15

42° 06' 24" N
71° 09' 58" W 
Learn more about Lat/Long (including how to look them up by address)
Also, compare today's coordinates to those of other recent EarthView outings, near and far!

NOTE: It was a very snowy year. This visit was postponed until May 24.

This is EarthView's second visit to Sharon Middle School. The blog post for our April 2012 visit describes the town of Sharon in terms of both site and situation -- geographic characteristics of the place itself and of the place in relation to other places. Just as that visit took place on the anniversary of historic events with geographic significance, so also does this Ides of March visit.

March 15 in Geographic History
1991 Amazon territories Roraima and Amapa become the last states of Brazil
1988 NASA reports damage to the ozone layer, caused by chloroflourocarbons
1971 First Internet chat rooms
1966 Watts riots in Los Angeles
1964 President Lyndon Johnson calls for War on Poverty
1961 South Africa withdrew from the British Commonwealth
1960 Key Largo Coral Reef Preserve established as the first underwater park, now part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
1957 The United Kingdom becomes the third country to explode a nuclear bomb
1952 The greatest 24-hour rainfall began on the French Island of La Reunion, with 187 cm recorded. Where is this located, and how much rain would this be in inches? How tall are you in centimeters?
1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings become the first professional baseball team