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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dramatic Confluences

Confluences occur wherever two streams come together. If the gradient is low (i.e., nearly level) and the properties of the two streams are very different, the confluences may be characterized by a dramatic visible distinction as the mixing occurs only slowly. This map -- based on an EarthPorm article -- shows some of the most dramatic examples from around the world -- just ten that stand out, among the millions of confluences on the planet.

Explore the map to see where these confluences occur, and descriptions of the rivers involved -- each situation is unique. Notice that the satellite imagery in some cases is not as dramatic as the photographs that are shown, for two basic reasons. Either the satellite imagery represents a part of the electromagnetic spectrum in which the distinctions are not as visible, or the timing of the satellite imagery does not match seasonal effects that are involved in some of these cases.

Friday, December 5, 2014

O'Maley Middle School, Gloucester -- December 5

Image: WikiMedia
42° 37' 44" N
70° 40' 23" W

Learn more about Lat/Long 

Today the EarthView team is visiting the northeasternmost portion of the Bay State: the Ralph B. O'Maley Middle School is just a couple of miles from the Atlantic Ocean in the famous fishing town of Gloucester.

Located on Cape Ann, this community is connected in many important ways to the Gulf of Maine, a "sea within a sea" that receives the waters of 60 watersheds. Geography students at O'Maley have recently been studying the nearby Gulf, which has some of the richest fisheries and most interesting tides in the world.

The sense of place is celebrated by new local restaurant, Latitude 43, which has a nautical theme and a geographic name. The team knows about the place because a son of team member Dr. Domingo was the construction manager.

When we returned from Gloucester, a student shared The Wreck of the Hesperus, Longfellow's famous poem based on two shipwrecks -- one near Gloucester and the other near Boston. It is required reading for many students in nautical New England towns.

During our visit, we spoke with some of the classes about the geography of currency. Every country in the world decides what currency it will use, and most of them print their own. When traveling, it is important to know the value of the currency. A sandwich that costs 5 dollars in the United States would cost 13 reais (HAY-ice) in Brazil and 132 cordobas in Nicaragua. These relationships -- known as exchange rates -- are always changing, and can be calculated on web sites such as

We were speaking on the anniversary of the death of Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela. His life was an inspiration, of course, to many people throughout the world, but was especially meaningful to the EarthView team, because our own Dr. Domingo began life as a black South African, and left for the United States before the dream of ending apartheid could be realized. Now when he visits his family, it is a very different country from the one in which he grew up.

Of course, we also talked about Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who will formally receive her award next year. In March, we learned that one of our favorite university geography texts was dedicated to her work on behalf of young women everywhere who want to learn.

Image: Rondonia Web
Several classes heard from Dr. Hayes-Bohanan about Rondônia, the state of Brazil where he studied to earn his doctorate in Geography & Latin American Area Studies. The photograph above is of a carving purchased during that field work, from an artist known as Anká. If you did not hear the story -- which involves a leaky boat, a 100-foot climb in the rain forest and many details he forgot to mention -- you can read it about it in Folha da Frontera (#3), a newsletter that was sent from the field. It is on Rondônia Web, along with a lot of other information about this part of the Amazon basin, and especially about its growing cities.

Lagniappe: Cape Ann or Annisquam Island?

During our visit, one of the geography teachers at O'Maley told the EarthView team that Cape Ann is actually an island. We had crossed a bridge to get to it, after all, and in fact there is no way to drive or walk there without crossing one of three bridges over the Annisquam River, and a quick look at Google Maps confirms this.

Because rivers to not separate islands from continents, we decided to investigate. Throughout most of its course, the Annisquam appears to be a natural river, mostly estuary. In the headwaters at the far southeastern end of the river, however, the banks are unnaturally straight, suggesting human engineering, and the name Blynman Canal confirms this. The history of this very short canal is an interesting one, having first opened in 1643, but not being permanently navigable until two centuries later.

By coincidence, we had mentioned the anniversary of the South Hadley Canal to some of the students. It is credited with being the first canal in the United States used for navigation, but as we can see, such superlative titles are always subject to debate.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Modern Antique

Image: National Geographic Education
As we posted back in September, one of the great benefits of EarthView is that it allows us to see a map of the world at a relatively large scale and with minimal distortion. (The only distortion results from the flattening of Antarctica so that we can walk inside the globe.)

As National Geographic explains, all flat maps involve distortion, just as flattening an orange peel will require some combination of stretching and tearing. But on this date -- December 2 -- it is important to think about the projection that has probably caused more confusion about the world than any other. For it was on December 2, 1594 that German cartographer Gerardus Mercator died.

The image above represents the most modern remote-sensing technologies, with the Digital Numbers captured by many satellites in countless data files expertly converted to meaningful colors and stitched together into a single map. It also represents a projection technique best suited to the age of sail -- Mercator makes the poles infinite in order to represent direction clearly. In its recognition of Mercator's death, National Geographic Education explains the problems that widespread adoption of this map has caused.

America's First Canal

Thanks to the MassMoments project of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, we learn that today marks an interesting anniversary in the geography of New England. It was on December 1, 1826 that the first steamship passed through the South Hadley Canal. The canal is still visible in the satellite imagery below, which makes clear its purpose: it provided a means of navigating around the rocky South Hadley Falls area of the Connecticut River.

As the MassMoments post explains, this canal was the first in the United States to carry river traffic, as it did for nearly forty years. This is a key bit of the "geography behind history" for the entire Connecticut River Valley, which remains the key north-south corridor in New England.

The canal last operated in 1863, and played a part in its own demise. By increasing the importance of the river as a transportation corridor, the canal helped to make way for the railroads that would eventually replace it. Those, in turn, led eventually to the establishment of highways such as Interstate 91, which are the most common ways of following the course of the river today.

This map shows the Connecticut River, its watershed, major tributaries, and major highways. It is one of many map and geography resources available from the Connecticut River Watershed Council. Please explore the collection. As the Council points out, no single map can capture the complexity of this watershed -- over 11,000 square miles draining to a 406-mile main channel.. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

NCSS Boston -- November 21

42° 20' 51" N
71° 05' 03" W

Learn more about Lat/Long 

The EarthView team is pleased to be part of the annual meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies. Thousands of social-studies educators from throughout the United States are at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston to share ideas about teaching and learning. We have enjoyed meeting teachers from throughout New England at the NERC regional meetings for several years, and are pleased to now bring EarthView to the national community of teachers.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ahern School, Foxboro -- November 14

42° 4' 27" N
71° 14' 18" W

Learn more about Lat/Long 

The EarthView team is pleased to return to the Ahern School, which has been part of the program almost every year since it began. By now, well over a thousand Ahern students have been among the 50,000 EarthView participants! You can read some of the things we shared on the blog for our 20102011 and 2012 visits -- including some toponym notes.
World Biomes from Kids Do Ecology
Because geographers study many kinds of spatial patterns, we interact with a lot of other scientists and scholars. Biogeography, for example, is closely related to ecology. The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) supports Kids Do Ecology which includes World Biomes. As geographers who know that any kind of region can be defined according to different criteria, we appreciate that this web site explains that even the number of biomes can vary, depending on those criteria.

We include biomes here because we know that they are an important part of how Ahern students are learning world geography this year. Biomes are types of biotic (biological) communities, each of which can be found anywhere in the world that certain abiotic conditions are found. That is, if climate and soils in two places are similar, then similar plants and animals are likely to be found. EarthView is a wonderful place to learn about the spatial arrangement of major biomes on the planet, in their correct proportions and relative locations.
As Ahern students have been learning, biomes are among the physical factors that influence the distribution of human populations. The famous "Earth at Night" image is not exactly a population-density map, but brightly-lit areas tend to be those of significant human settlement. What biomes are found in the places with very few humans? What are some other factors that encourage or discourage human settlement?

The image above appears on Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's Environmental Geography blog but is also available as a poster, and appeared as NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day on November 27, 2000. Notice that it is a "picture" and not a single satellite image. No single view can show the whole planet at once -- except of course EarthView!

Yesterday's APOD was equally spectacular -- the first image ever transmitted from a comet! Visit the November 13, 2014 APOD page to learn about the details of this image, taken from just 2 miles above the surface of  the comet known as C67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which is 300,000,000 miles from earth and moving at speeds of up to 80,000 miles per hour. This is so far away -- 30 light-minutes -- that signals between the European Space Agency (which launched the mission) and the probe are delayed by 30 minutes each way! Read many details of the mission on the ESA's Rosetta FAQ.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Maps & Meaning

42° 23' 11"N
71° 16' 22"W
For coordinates by address in the U.S., check Stephen Morse, or use an atlas, globe, or Google Earth for other places throughout the world.

EarthView has returned to the Cambridge School of Weston, an independent, progressive high school with a rich history of innovative teaching. Co-coordinator James Hayes-Bohanan took it there for his daughter's "Maps & Meaning" class last year. Students from that class were so energized by this unique way of experiencing a map that this year's class was eager to have EarthView return.

The visit was a reminder that students of any age can get excited about seeing the world in a new way. It is also a reminder that a map or globe can be used for lots of different kinds of learning. Because students in these classes had been analyzing the ways maps can represent the same reality differently, their questions about EarthView were quite interesting. As the video below makes clear -- the students gave EarthView a very warm welcome.
One of the questions of perception asked by a CSW student is actually one that the EarthView team hears a lot -- "Is it in the correct proportions?" Most people do not spend much time looking at world maps, and even less time looking at globes. And the most commonly viewed maps use a Mercator or similar projection that greatly exaggerates the size of land masses at high latitudes -- so that Greenland rivals South America and Antarctica looks like a very wide rectangle. In reality -- and in EarthView -- Greenland is rather small, Antarctica is rather round, and Africa is much bigger than most people expect it to be. Also, since many projections divide the Pacific Ocean, almost everyone who enters EarthView is surprised at its size. 

We discussed the question of whether new islands are still being discovered, and in fact some are, and it is sometimes difficult to know whether they are new discoveries, newly precise ways of viewing complex groups of islands, or perhaps new lands formed by volcanoes. A couple of years ago, though, we did learn about the opposite -- the undiscovery of Sandy Island, an island that never existed, but which has appeared on maps for 200 years.
Image; Auckland Museum

Sunday, November 2, 2014

South Middle, Braintree -- November 7

 38°41'50" S 
176°06'16" E

The EarthView team usually uses the top of each blog post to report the geographic coordinates of the schools we visit. This week, we begin with a location that is very far from Braintree -- almost as far away as possible.

Consider how the coordinates above relate to these:

38°41'50" N 
  3°53'44" W

How could one use the principal lines of the globe -- equator, prime meridian, and International Date Line -- to calculate one of these pairs, based on the other?

Where are these places, relative to each other?

Search each pair at Google Maps to find out a bit more about each place. What language is spoken in each? Which one has a connection to South Middle's geographer extraordinaire, Mr. Henry?

These questions all relate to the geographic concept of antipodes, which are explained in some detail in Who Can Dig to China? on Environmental Geography, the college-level blog of EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan.

We don't know where this humorous photo was taken. It would be accurate only in parts of Chile and Argentina. The antipode locations for most of China are in the southern Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
For information about the coordinates of South Middle School -- and how they compare to those East Middle and other Massachusetts locations -- see the classroom exercise described in our East Middle School post from our Halloween visit to that neighboring school.

Friday, October 31, 2014

East Middle School, Braintree -- October 31

The coordinates of East Middle are at the end of this article. Usually, they are at the beginning of the post for each school visit, but because we are visiting two schools in the same town a week apart, we are making a small game of their coordinates.

(Learn  about Lat/Long, including how to look up by address) See the end of this post for a Braintree-Bridgewater-Boston lat/long challenge.

What better place for EarthView to celebrate Halloween than one of our favorite schools -- East Middle in Braintree. Our first November program will be at another favorite -- South Middle. We have enjoyed both daytime programs and Family Geography Nights at both schools, because of the commitment of teachers and the entire district to global and environmental education through strong geography programs.

During our visit, we spoke about a lot of topics that can be explored in more detail through this blog, which includes an article about each school visit we make, and about many of the geography stories we tell using EarthView. This week these included the Wedding of the Waters in the Amazon, the relationship between Six Flags and Latin America. The right-hand side of this blog includes some permanent links to information we discuss during our presentations, such as the Geography of Coffee. We mentioned to several groups that BSU honors students had helped to create a map depicting the life (so far) of Malala Yousafzai. The map is included in Riveting Malala, one of over 700 posts on Dr. Hayes-Boh's college-level blog, Environmental Geography 
Image: Huffington Post
One of the many interesting geographic stories that is taking place during our visit actually began in June, when a vent on the Kilauea volcano began making its way toward the town of Pahoa, Hawaii. The movement has been very slow, but equally unstoppable, and residents are now preparing for the inevitable reshaping of their town

We speak a lot about the Pacific Ring of Fire in our EarthView programs, but Hawaii is not part of it, even though it is in the center of the Pacific. Rather, the shield volcanoes of Hawaii are the result of an intermittently active hot spot beneath the Pacific Plate.

Read more about subduction-zone volcanoes and earthquake activity in our 2011 article about tectonic activity and Japan. All of the volcanoes in Nicaragua, for example, are formed by the processes shown here.
The volcanoes of Hawaii, by contrast, originate with heat sources far deeper in the earth, as shown in this general model of hotspot volcanism.

The Geological Society-UK provides more specific information about the mid-plate hotspot responsible for the island chain of Hawaii It includes a video that is mainly useful for showing the relative timing and position of the islands in the chain, including Lo'ihi, which is so new that it is not even an island yet!

Other resources
For two kinds of disasters, it is easy to find authoritative information from agencies of the United States that employ geographers and other scientists to monitor and analyze information from all over the world.

One is the National Hurricane Center, which is part of the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration, of  which the National Weather Service is also a part. These agencies are part of the Department of Commerce. What other agencies are part of this department?

Information about earthquakes is available from the Earthquake Hazards Program at the United States Geological Survey (USGS). Within moments of an earthquake anywhere in the world, the USGS posts detailed information, using a global, automated seismic network. The USGS also has a Volcano Hazards Program, which operates  strictly within the United States and its territories.

It is disappointing that the volcano data are limited in this way, but it is because a lot of the important data comes from data monitors adjacent to and even on top of volcanoes. These monitors are maintained by agencies throughout the world, and they are not under the control of the USGS. The Smithsonian Institution does provide access to much more of the international volcano data.through its Global Volcanism Program.

All of the federal-government science sites mentioned here include plenty of explanations and glossary items. The data they generate is available free of charge not only to individual users, but also to commercial forecasters who repackage the information for other web sites, television, or radio, perhaps adding their own interpretations.

Each pair of coordinates below provides the unique location of a specific building in eastern Massachusetts. In alphabetical order, they are the Conant Science & Math Building at Bridgewater State University; East Middle School in Braintree, South Middle School in Braintree, and the State House in Boston.

The challenge -- draw a very simple sketch map showing these four buildings. Their exact locations do not need to be shown -- a general map from memory might be sufficient. Then match the coordinates to the building -- either by writing them on the map, or by listing the buildings in the correct order below. (Writing them down randomly is not likely to work: even with just four choices, they can be written in 24 different orders.)

42°11'02"N; 70°59'53"W
42°13'15"N; 70°59'23"W
42°21'29"N; 71°03'49"W
41°59'17"N; 70° 58' 19"W

Then verify your answers by consulting Google Maps or another detailed mapping resource.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Busy Week for Geography!

Last week was a busy one for geography education in Massachusetts -- especially on local CBS affiliates!

On Tuesday the 7th, news anchor Paula Ebben dedicated her Eye on Education feature to Family Geography Night that had taken place the previous week at North Andover Middle School.

This award-winning night has been organized by MGA member Robert  Poirier each of the past six years, and in 2011 is was recognized by the Massachusetts Senate for educational excellence. As shown in the video above, many teachers and other volunteers commit their time to an evening of truly engaged learning involving both students and their families.
Then on Thursday evening, MGA members Vernon Domingo and James Hayes-Bohanan visited the studios. They were able to thank Paula Ebbens in person for her support of geography while waiting to go on air with Dan Rea. The two had been on Nightside with Dan Rea once before, and were glad to be back on this program, which is heard throughout eastern North America because of the night-time range of strong AM radio signals.

Be sure to listen to the entire hour (the play button is in a black box just below the program description. The many interesting calls from listeners included one from a graduate of our department now teaching in Florida. Brenda reminded us and the rest of the audience that geography is both a physical science and a social science.

Geography is, in fact, at the intersection of STEM Education and Global Education. This is one reason that geography is a vital discipline for 21st-century learning. It is a subject that informs and enriches understanding of many related fields. Geographers are, in fact, especially well prepared for making interdisciplinary connections.

As Dan Rea made very clear during the discussion, however, we cannot rely on a sprinkling of geography in the courses to substitute for a sound education in geography itself.

The discussion included current efforts toward that end in the Massachusetts Legislature. Thanks to broad, bipartisan, and bicameral effort that includes the Legislature's only geographer, the body is considering An Act Relative to Geography Education. The Joint Committee on Education and Senate Committee on Ways and Means have approved the measure, but it is currently awaiting approval by technical committees. The bill provides an opportunity for Massachusetts to declare its support of geographic literacy through an annual Geography Education Week. More importantly, it would create a fixed-term Geography Commission to examine the ways to improve geography education throughout Massachusetts.
Many legislators have become aware of the gaps in geography education through MGA State House visits with EarthView.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

North Andover -- October 2-3

42° 41' 36" N
71° 07' 15" W
Learn more about Lat/Long (including how to look them up by address)

The EarthView team is delighted to return to North Andover Middle School for the sixth annual Family Geography Night. Our daytime program complements the NAMS geography program, which is among the strongest in the state. During the evening, EarthView is just one part of a rich variety of geography experiences for NAMS students to enjoy with their families. See previous North Andover blog posts for much more about the geography of this community and about this award-winning annual event.

As with all of our EarthView visits, we talked about a lot of different aspects of physical and human geography. We invite students and families to search or browse this blog to find additional resources on many of them. We also invite questions, using the "comments" link below.

One thing we pointed out to many of the visitors was recent news about the shrinking of the Aral Sea. Once the fourth-largest lake in the world, it was dramatically depleted for cotton production, so that cargo ships along its former shorelines now lay on their side in the desert. 

The original shoreline of the Aral Sea is outlined on the now mostly-dry lakebed in this 2013 satellite image. Note the bar scale in the southeast corner of the image: 50km = 31 miles.
From the NASA Earth Observatory Shrinking Aral Sea essay and image collection.
Among the special guests this year were several members of the North Andover School Committee and State Representative Diana DiZoglio, who has attended in previous years and who is one of many sponsors of a bill to promote geography education throughout the state. We also had a special visit from WBZ news anchor Paula Ebben, who takes a special interest in education. After her report on Family Geography Night airs on Tuesday, October 7, we will update this post to include a link to the web version.

News anchor Paula Ebben with Family Geography Night leader Robert Poirier.
On the second day of our visit, Michelle LeBlanc visited from the Leventhal Map Center at Boston Public Library. She is the education director for the center, which houses one of New England's most extraordinary map collections. It is a place every student of geography should visit!


During our visit, part of the team was at a nearby cafe, where our dramatically geographic flag ties drew the attention of a fellow diner. For his benefit and those of the many students who asked, we are reposting a link to our online tie puzzles, which includes information on purchasing one of the ties. Lately, Dr. Domingo has also added some very spiffy globe socks to his wardrobe.

That fellow diner said something very meaningful as we discussed the importance of geographic education:

If we don't have a global view, all we can do is yell and scream at each other.

With a bit more understanding of the world around us -- near and far -- we can do much better than that!

Monday, September 29, 2014

LIFE Bridgewater – September 29

Learn more about Lat/Long

Let Imagination Fuel Education (LIFE) is a network of home-school families in the Bridgewater area. Students complete most of their schooling within their own homes, but gather once each month at the community building of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish to share enrichment activities.

The EarthView visit was a great opportunity for us to share the world with students of all ages – from pre-school through high school – in a single event, along with many of their parents. The families involved in LIFE pursue a variety of curricula, but there was a common thread of engagement and curiosity about the wider world. As a result, we had great conversations with the students about political, economic, cultural, and environmental geography topics.

One common thread in our discussions is the nature of EarthView itself. It is a primarily a physical globe, that represents biomes – the deserts, forests, grasslands and other naturally-occurring plant communities – at a global scale. It also shows landforms such as mountains – which are shown in a rather cartoonish manner on EarthView – and rivers, lakes, and the continental shelf. Errors are very few, such as the unduly large areas of shallow water shown around many of the world’s islands. 
A lot of our discussion was about Africa -- a continent of 55 or so countries (depending how islands are counted) that is much larger and has much more variety than many in the U.S. realize. It is backward in this image, taken from inside EarthView.
Photo: Andrea Fogarty
See more photos on Flickr.
Seeing the earth from inside and out and without distortions leads to a lot of surprising revelations in comparison to the flat maps and small globes most of us are used to seeing. First, Africa is much bigger than many suppose -- second in size and population only to Asia. Second, the Pacific is just one ocean, and it is huge. On many flat maps, it appears as two separate, small bodies of water around the edges. Third, the oceans -- especially the Pacific -- contain far more islands than most people realize, because they show up as such small dots on standard-sized globes.

All flat maps require projection -- a mathematical process of transforming a spherical shape onto a flat surface. This is called projection because the process can be described as if a light were shining through or from within a globe onto a flat surface, projecting the shapes as onto a screen. One of the most common is the Mercator, which was developed for navigation, but which really gives us mistaken ideas about the shapes of continents, and especially mistaken ideas about the sizes of places far to the north.

The size of northern lands in this image compared to the lands near the equator are quite huge, and getting the sizes right has been one of the great benefits of entering EarthView.

Before dividing into age groups for visits inside EarthView, the entire LIFE group gathered to watch its inflation. Remarkably, once EarthView is attached to its fan, it only takes six minutes to rise from the floor to a height of six meters.
 At this stage of the inflation, we might describe North America as "upside down" but in reality the earth is a sphere that has no real top or bottom. Most globes - like most map projections -- put north on top, but there is no real reason to do so.

Another theme of our visit with the LIFE families was the importance of water. Although 71 percent of the planet is covered with water, many people do not have an adequate supply. This is because 97 percent of the world's water is too salty for most uses by humans, and 2 percent is stored as ice. The 1 percent remaining is distributed much differently than population, and some of it is quite polluted.

The result is that about 1,000,000,000 of the world's people do not have access to clean water. We discussed the story of Katie Spotz, a young woman from Ohio who helped to provide water for a few thousand of those people by rowing a boat all the way across the Atlantic Ocean! See her Row for Water web site, or several posts on the archive edition of this blog.

A final theme we discussed is volcanoes. Of more than 1,500 volcanoes on earth, a majority are found along the tectonic boundaries surrounding the Pacific Ocean. Because of early warning systems, injuries from volcanoes have become relatively rare, but there was a tragic eruption in Japan that killed more than 30 visitors in Japan this week. The Smithsonian Institution Volcano site provides details about all of the world's active volcanoes, including spreadsheets and a Google Earth map layer so that people can do some of their own research and comparisons.

One student asked Dr. Hayes-Bohanan about the most amazing place he has visited, and the immediate answer was part of the Ring of Fire -- Cerro Negro in Nicaragua. See two blog posts about it on his Environmental Geography blog.

Dr. Hayes-Bohanan sliding down Cerro Negro in 2012

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Florianópolis -- Sept 17-19

Learn more about Lat/Long

One of many popular views of Florianópolis, also known as Floripa.
Careful readers will notice that this is a first for EarthView. Never before has it appeared in the Southern Hemisphere, nor has it been so far east. It has certainly never been farther from its home base in Bridgewater! EarthView will be appearing in schools in Florianópolis and also at an international conference on planning and development, with over 500 geographers and other professionals.

Former BSU students will be helping with the event, though. Because of exchange programs between Bridgewater State University and the University of the State of Santa Catarina (UDESC), several geographers in Florianópolis have spent a semester in Massachusetts. Most of those students found the snow very interesting, as they had never seen it before in their lives!

Florianópolis is the capital of the state of Santa Catarina, in the far south of Brazil. Most of the city is on a beautiful island, which is one reason BSU students have enjoyed our UDESC exchanges. The main benefit, though, has been the chance to know the hard-working, fun, and friendly geographers of UDESC. Because of a new agreement between the two universities, students from any discipline can now study with BSU in Floripa, or in Bridgewater with UDESC!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Putting the CUP in World Cup

As the EarthView team has been discussing with students all year, the World Cup football (or "soccer" tournament) provides a lot of opportunities to learn about geography. Teams from all over the world have come to Brazil to compete, and they are doing so in about half of the states of that country.

Among the opportunities this has provided for learning about geography, the Rainforest Alliance has created one of the most interesting for its Frog Blog. For each pair of competing teams, a scorecard compares several measures of forest protection, including some statistics related to beverages that come from forests: tea, cocoa, and coffee.

In addition to the scorecard, an article about each pair discusses the kind of forests within the two countries, how well they are protected, and connections to protected forests elsewhere. Browse the entire World Cup Archives, and then explore the rest of the Rainforest Alliance blog to learn more about forest protection throughout the world.

Mapping the Changing Land

Among its other duties, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maintains topographic maps of the country, mostly at a scale of 1:24,000. These topographic maps are detailed enough to follow even the smallest streams, calculate the slopes of hills, and identify the positions and shapes of buildings. Because most areas have been mapped several times over decades -- and some more than a century -- they are very useful for describing changes in the land and human use of the land.

Blogger/journalists at the Washington Post recently created GIFs of some maps in the Washington DC area, with a link to the entire collection.
Geographers often use their expertise in the interpretation of topographic maps as they work with other professionals to describe the historical development of places. This can be especially useful when examining the environmental history of a site to see if it is likely to contain pollution or other hazards.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bridgewater Middle School, June 13

41° 59' 21" N
70° 59' 06" W

EarthView is not traveling very far today. In fact, it may be fun to compare the coordinates of today's visit at Bridgewater Middle School with those of EarthView's storage spot at BSU:

41° 59' 17" N
70° 58' 14" W

Which is farther from the equator? Which is farther from the Prime Meridian? Notice that for both locations, both coordinates include 58 or 59 as the measure of minutes. Just as 59 minutes is close to the next hour on a clock, 59 minutes is close to the next degree on the globe. Since both the latitude and longitude are close, this means that both locations are very near a degree confluence, which is what one geographic project calls such locations throughout the world, where the latitude and the longitude are in whole degrees. There is only one such point on land in Massachusetts, with another found in Cape Cod Bay.

The town of Bridgewater has an interesting place in the historical geography of the United States, as it was one of the first examples of western expansion as part of a process eventually associated with Manifest Destiny -- the idea that God had ordained the United States to occupy lands from the Atlantic all the way to the Pacific. The idea was nearly so grandiose in 1649, when Myles Standish met with the Wampanoag chief Massasoit at Sachem Rock to acquire what would eventually be Bridgewater and several other towns. The Plymouth colony had grown beyond its capacity to be sustained near the coast, and therefore expanded westward. The process is described in this fun -- and geographic -- installment of Schoolhouse Rock:

Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's article North Bridgewater -- a.k.a. Brockton provides more details about the origins of the Bridgewaters. It is part of a life-long blogging endeavor he is pursuing with Pamela Hayes-Bohanan, who is a university librarian and a trustee of the Bridgewater Public Library. The blog documents explorations of places all over the United States with the name Bridgewater, and includes a few special items, such as a review of the recent documentary film The Bridgewater Triangle.

Our visit occurs on a Friday the 13th with a full moon, known as a Honey Moon. This is an unusual coincidence that can be expected to occur about once every twenty years. EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's parents actually eloped on a Friday the 13th, but the moon was not full on that July 1962 evening.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Our Lady's Academy, Waltham -- June 11

42° 24' 35" N
71° 13' 47" W

The EarthView team enjoyed a brief visit to Our Lady's Academy on Wednesday morning, and got to meet all of the school's youngest students. We like the name OLA because it sounds like a friendly greeting in Spanish -- ¡hola!

Picture-within-picture: Mr. DeCoste poses with his sixth graders after a great time inside the world! They wanted to pose in front of North America, which was made possible as EarthView deflated. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Silk Internet

The word globalization refers to the ever-increasing connections among places that has resulted from increasing trade and communication. Technologies including containerized transportation and the internet have certainly increased the speed and complexity of global connections.
The fabric that brought worlds together.
As impressive as these technologies are, however, they did not begin the process of globalization. The Silk Road is a five-minute video from TED-Ed that explains how globalization was developing in Asia twenty centuries ago!

More recently and closer to home, the telegraph was an important way of connecting the world in the 1800s. It has been described as the Victorian Internet in a book by Tom Standage, who described the geography of telegraphs in an interview on All Things Considered.

Tantasqua Regional Jr. High School, Fiskdale -- June 6th

42° 09' 24" N
72° 07' 44" W

Tantasqua Junior High School

Today, Earth View returns to Tantasqua Regional Junior High School in  Fiskdale, MA. Last month the students of this school finished taking their yearly MCAS tests and are ready to explore the world with some EarthView fun!

To learn more about this school and its upcoming events, feel free to visit the Tantasqua website.

Each year the Tantasqua visit is a special one for EarthView, because it is the school where the Globe Lady became a geography teacher! She started there as a French teacher (her native language is French) but in the 1980s attended a special summer institute at National Geographic, and began her transformation into the fabulous and fabled geography educator we now know and love!

Because the Tantasqua students have been studying Latin America recently, the Globe Lady is rocking her Chichen Itza, Maravilla del Mundo (Marvel of the World) shirt and hat today, and discussing the exploits of EarthView team members in Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua and Brazil.

D-Day, World War 2, the invasion of Normandy, France.
Our June 6 visit takes place on the 70th anniversary of D-Day, also known as the Normandy Invasion. Over 160,000 troops from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and France itself assembled off
 the coast of Normandy overnight and landed on several beaches, including the famous one known as Omaha.  The landing made way for

Map courtesy of Blue Ox.

Other June 6 anniversaries:

1971- The Soyuz 11 was launched into space and docked at Salyut orbital space station the next day.
1978- "20/20" TV premiere date.
This is also Memorial Day in Korea, where the nation pays tribute to the fallen soldiers with a ceremony held at the National Cemetery in Seoul.

The Soyuz 11 From the USSR  was launched into space and docked at Salyut orbital space station the next day.
National Cemetery in Seoul.