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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Barnstable Intermediate School, Hyannis- May 29th

42° 06' 24" N
71° 09' 58" W 
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EarthView is happy to be back visiting Barnstable Intermediate School in Hyannis today! Today's visit is our third trip to the school and the first of two visits throughout this week and next.

At last Friday's visit to Williams Intermediate School in Bridgewater, Dr. Hayes-Bohanan mentioned a story that he had heard on the radio earlier in the morning on the WGBH series,The Curiosity Desk
An artists depiction of the Dark Day, May 19th, 1780

This tree helped to uncover the mystery of the dark day
Last Tuesday, May 19th, marked 235 years since the mysterious "Dark Day" that occurred on May 19th, 1780. That day started like any other May morning in New England, sunny and beautiful prepping the people for a gorgeous May day. However, as the day went on the sky became dark and by noontime it appeared as though night had fallen. Nobody around knew what was happening and they feared that the end of the world. But that wasn't the case. And for many many years, nobody seemed to know why the sky turned completely dark that day until fairly recently when scientists from the University of Missouri's Forestry department studied tree trunks and their rings from the Algonquin region of Canada. These tree rings showed signs of a major forest fire that would have occurred during that year finally revealing an accurate explanation for the events of that very dark day! Today Algonquin is a beautiful park but in 1780 it was so isolated that nobody was around to keep a record of the massive fire that darkened the skies of New England.

In the map above you can see how far the winds would have taken the thick dark smoke from the forest fire in Algonquin, some 570 miles away from Bridgewater State University which more than likely would have experienced the effects of that dark day. 

Similar to this story from 1780, in 1964 on May 25th, a major wildfire crossed Myles Standish State Forest in Carver, Ma into Plymouth, Ma and destroyed everything in its path. Upon stopping at White Island Pond in Plymouth, the fire burned 5,500 acres and completely destroyed 26 structures. 

The Prime Minister of Japan
In more recent environmental news, the country of Japan has pledged 55 billion yen, or $450 million US dollars, in aid to island countries in the Pacific that are affected by Global Warming by means of sea level rise and other disasters.The countries that will most benefit from the aid include Fiji, the Marshall Islands and the Solomon Islands whom are all members of AOSIS, the Alliance of Small Island States. The aid will be distributed over a 3 year period and will help these countries in coping with environmental disasters, getting more access to clean water, renewable energy and waste management. 

We hope that the students of Barnstable Intermediate enjoyed their visit with EarthView today and we will be back again next week! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Williams Intermediate School, Bridgewater- May 22nd

41° 59' 03" N
70° 58' 47" W
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The EarthView team is happy to be visiting Williams Intermediate School in Bridgewater today which is located not too far from the University! If you take a look at the map above, you can see that BSU is located within the map view for the school. While we usually travel farther, it is nice to stay in town and visit with the local students!

About 6 years ago, Dr. Hayes-Bohanan and wife Pamela -- a BSU librarian -- were inspired by an NPR series, Main Street USA, in which reporters traveled around to different cities and towns and reported about what was happening on Main Street. They decided to conduct a project of their own called, "The Bridgewaters Project" in which they would travel around to all of the different Bridgewaters and record their travels on their blog, Bridgewaters Project.They discovered that Bridgewater is a fairly common name for a town and at the time they started the blog in 2009, they knew of Bridgewater, Vermont; Bridgewater, Maine; Bridgewater, New Hampshire; Bridgewater, Connecticut; Bridgewater, New York; Bridgewater, New Jersey; Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Canada and Bridgwater, England

Additionally, there is a Bridgewater, Virginia and a university is located in that town as well which is the reason why BSU's domain is since Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Virginia took the domain An interesting thing to note is that Bridgewater State University was originally named the "Normal School" and was chosen to be placed here in town because the people of Bridgewater committed more assistance then competing towns, mostly in terms of making rooms available for students to rent. The entire school (dorms, classrooms and offices) was in one building, which burned down in 1925.

Bridgewater, Massachusetts was incorporated as a town in 1656 and originally included all or parts of the towns of Rockland, Whitman and Avon. These towns were dropped early and by 1716, the remaining town of Bridgewater was divided into four pieces: North Bridgewater, South Bridgewater, East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater. South Bridgewater eventually became simply the town of Bridgewater and North Bridgewater became the city of Brockton. 

Bridgewater, Massachusetts is also home to the "Bridgewater Triangle" where strange paranormal phenomena occurs in a 200 square-mile area centered on the Hockomock Swamp. We will save this topic for another blog post as we could go quite a bit in depth on this since Eva the EarthView blogger enjoys reading up on ghost stories and the like. 

We hope that the students of Williams Intermediate School enjoyed their visit with EarthView today and we hope to visit again soon! 

Update from the school: During our visit today, we discovered that William's Intermediate is home to seismograph, a machine that monitors seismic activity, also known as earthquakes! If you have been following our blog posts, you would have noticed that we have been talking quite frequently about earthquakes since the devastating one that hit Nepal. The nice secretary in the front office told us that this seismograph picked up some activity during the beginning of May...interesting!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mary Baker School, Brockton- May 15th

42° 5' 49 N
70° 59' 24 W
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Mary Baker School

Today EarthView is pleased to be visiting the Mary Baker School in Brockton! This is our second visit to the school, our first took place back in 2009 about a year after the school first opened its doors. The Mary Baker School opened its doors to the public on October 21st, 2008 and was the first green school to be built in Brockton. We here at EarthView are very pleased when we learn about what schools are doing to go green and become more sustainable, we wish that all would take the initiative as it would help to lessen our carbon footprint and wasteful impact on the Earth and the environment. The blog post for our first visit to the school can be found on our old domain, or by clicking here

Students from the Geography of Brockton course

If you attend BSU, you may have the opportunity to take a course that EarthView's very own Dr. Hayes-Bohanan teaches, the Geography of Brockton. The course teaches about the physical and human geography of Brockton and is currently offered as an Honors course. 

If you have been following our blogposts (and the news), you would have known about the deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25th. On Tuesday, May 13th a 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal killing about 80 people and injuring about 2,000. Tuesday's earthquake was centered about 48 miles east of Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal as opposed to 47 miles northwest of Kathmandu which was the location of the previous earthquake.

Nepal Earthquake

Dr. Hayes-Bohanan recently discovered an article about the effects of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on the Himalayan Mountains. When the earthquake occurred, scientists at the German Aerospace Center discovered that part of the Himalayas dropped five feet in height while the city of Kathmandu appears to have risen five feet. This rising and falling is due to the effects that earthquakes have on the tectonic plates beneath our feet. While the Indian plate that contains Kathmandu is consistently being pulled under the Eurasian plate forcing the Himalayan Mountains to rise, the earthquake temporarily reversed this causing the Indian plate to rise and the Himalayan Mountains to fall. This change in height is temporary as the tectonic plates underneath will continue to go with the flow as they did before the quake. 

Journey to the Center of the Earth

When we stand in EarthView, we are just below what would be the core of the earth. It could be represented by a ball about two feet in diameter, held about as high as a tall adult could hold it. This week, we join Google in celebrating the anniversary of the woman who discovered that core.

The image above was on the Google home page to celebrate what would have been the 127th birthday of Inge Lehmann on May 13. Using very early versions of the seismographs mentioned above -- and slips of cardboard stored in oatmeal boxes instead of supercomputers -- she analyzed reflections of earthquake waves to study a part of the earth that is more difficult to reach than Mars. She published her results in 1936, and it would be almost 40 years before computerised seismographs were sophisticated enough to verify her findings.

Read more about her life and work in the tribute from Smithsonian magazine.

Natural Earth -- This week the EarthView team found out about another great tool for learning about the planet.

This image was captured at 7am on Thursday, May 14. The lines show wind direction at the surface, indicating the importance of flows toward and away from coastlines. The colors indicate temperature and show the importance of continentality. At this early hour of the day, land masses remain cooler than the oceans, and high elevations are cooler than low.

This image is from a project known as Natural Earth, an artistic rendering of winds or currents overlaid on data about speed, temperature, or pressure. From the very simple main page, click on the word "earth" for a menu of options that include mapping high-altitude winds or shifting backward or forward in time.
Whatever parameters you choose, the flowing map reveals patterns that are both beautiful and informative.

We hope that the students of Mary Baker School enjoyed today's visit and we hope to be back again soon!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Frolio Middle School, Abington- May 8th

42° 07' 06"N
70° 56' 47"W
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The EarthView team is happy to be visiting Frolio Middle School in Abington for the third time! Our first visit brought us here back in 2010 and our last visit occurred on Valentine's Day last year. 

Today's visit brings us on the Friday after May 5th, otherwise known as Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo is a day in which people celebrate the Mexican Army defeating the French during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. 

Puebla, Mexico

While surprisingly Cinco de Mayo is actually a minor holiday in Mexico, it is largely celebrated here in the United States especially in areas with a large Mexican-American population. In Mexico, the celebration primarily takes place within the state of Puebla where there is a military parade and a recreation of the battle (reminds us of our state's very own Patriot's Day on April 19th when there is a large parade and a reenactment of the Battle at Lexington and Concord). Throughout the rest of Mexico the day is seemingly just like any other. 

In the United States however, Cinco de Mayo has become a day to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage. Parades, parties and mariachi music can be seen and heard throughout much of the areas of the United States on May 5th. The largest of these celebrations can be found in Los Angeles, Houston and Chicago. 

Between Puebla and Mexico City is the 17,802-foot volcano Popocatépetl. In 1989, Dr. Hayes-Bohanan spent a night on the side of Popo, in the village of  Yancuitlalpan. Almost every day that summer, he and his wife climbed to the cathedral of San Pedro Cholula, which is on top of the ruins of seven pre-Columbian pyramids. When the Spanish arrived in 1519, this was the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere.

During our visit, we spoke about the legend of Popocatépetl and Iztaccíhuatl, a nearby volcano that is almost as tall. The story is similar to that of Romeo & Juliet, but with a geographic difference: it explains how the Aztecs named these important mountains, and the fact that the names are still in use is a good example of how the conquering Spanish used names. In many instances -- especially in Central Mexico -- indigenous names were left in place or combined with Spanish names, with exclusively Spanish names being relatively uncommon even today in some regions.

One can actually drive from Frolio to this pyramid. It would take about 45 hours of constant driving.

We hope that the students of Frolio Middle School enjoyed today's visit with EarthView and we hope to be back next year! 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Spofford Pond School, Boxford- May 1st

42°41'46" N 
71°01'02" W
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The EarthView team is happy to be back visiting Spofford Pond School in Boxford! This will be our fourth visit to the school. Our first visit was back in 2010 and that visit was the first time that EarthView had traveled to a school on the North Shore! 

Be Like Brit Orphanage
Our last visit was back in November of 2013. During that visit we learned of a project that the then sixth graders (current 8th graders) were participating in. They were helping to raise money for Be Like Brit foundation. The foundation is named for Britney Gengel, a young local woman who lost her life in the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, while working to help children there. Because the earthquake caused so much destruction in Haiti, the Gengel family decided to help the people of Haiti while also honoring the loved one they lost. Today, a 19,000 square foot orphanage built in the shape of a 'B' stands in Grand Goave, Haiti. The orphanage houses and educates 33 boys and 33 girls which symbolize the number of days that Britney was lost beneath the rubble following the earthquake.  

Most recently, a 7.8 magnitude Earthquake hit the Himalayan Mountain region on Saturday April 25th. It's epicenter was located in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal and as of Tuesday April 28th, at least 5,000 people had died as a result of the earthquake. 

This map shows the epicenter of the first quake and its aftershocks

The country of Nepal is very mountainous and is located between India and China along the Himalayas.It is a very impoverished country, it is the poorest in all of South East Asia and the 17th poorest country in the world according to the United States Agency for International Development. This earthquake is extremely devastating to Nepal's economy as much of its infrastructure has been completely destroyed and without the money to rebuild, the people of Nepal need all of the help that we can provide to the non-profit agencies such as the Red Cross who will assist in providing aid to the people. According to the Australian ABC news website,180 buildings have been destroyed and 500 more buildings were damaged in Nepal's capital, Kathmandu. 102 additional buildings were destroyed in the city of Bidur which is located north-west of Kathmandu. 

Due to its proximity to Mount Everest, Saturday's earthquake in Nepal triggered an avalanche on the mountain which killed at least 18 people when many tons of ice fell upon the base camp.  

Avalanche on Mount Everest

Out of the devastation and heartbreak, there have been some remarkable stories of survival coming out of Nepal. One of these stories is about a 4 month old baby boy who was found beneath the rubble in Nepal some 22 hours after the Earthquake had occurred. He was able to survive with minor injuries but unfortunately the location of his parents are unknown which means that they sadly probably perished in the earthquake. Even more astounding then that is the story of a man who survived being trapped beneath the rubble in Kathmandu for 80 hours following the devastating earthquake. More of these remarkable stories of survival can be found by going here

If you would like to see some interesting maps and charts of the Nepal Earthquake, they can be found here.

During today's visit to Spofford Pond, we talked about vexillology -- the study of flags. We mentioned that when the country of South Africa changed to a more inclusive form of government, it engaged in a very public process of designing a new flag. We also mentioned the fact that some individuals have enjoyed creating informal flags for cultural regions. A great example is the effort of an individual blogger to create a new flag for the Delaware Valley region around Philadelphia.
See the Delaware Valley Flag community on Facebook.
We hope that the students of Spofford Pond School enjoyed their visit with EarthView today and we hope to be back again!