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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

St. Mary of the Annunciation, Danvers -- June 17

42° 34' 06 N
70° 56' 54 W

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The EarthView team is making its first visit to St. Mary of the Annunciation School in Danvers, a town north of Boston that was once part of the coastal town of Salem. We included some information about the geography of the town in the blog post for our 2012 visit to Smith Elementary School.  

The two schools are just over a mile apart Students can use the latitude and longitude of each school to determine which direction the other school is found, relative to St. Mary School.

As detailed in the 2012 post, Danvers is famous as the home of Rebecca Nurse (a victim of the Salem trials) and the source of a famous onion. It is also surrounded by waterways and crisscrossed by all of the region's important roadways.

One thing that surprises people the most about their time in EarthView is the enormous size of the Pacific Ocean, which covers about 1/3 of the planet. We tend to know little about it in the United States, aside from the small area near our shores. One reason is that many world map projections divide and stretch the ocean. In EarthView we can see that Hawaii is almost centered in the ocean, that it has thousands of other islands, and that its coastlines are thousands of miles long.
Our visit to St. Mary School comes on the one-year anniversary of President Obama's addition of 780,000 square miles to the Remote Pacific Islands Marine National Monument. This adds an area bigger than Alaska and California combined to a protected area that was created by President Bush in 2009. It includes areas surrounding Howland, Baker, and Jarvis Islands; Johnston, Wake, and Palmyra Atolls; and Kingman Reef. An interesting aspect of the geography of the Pacific Ocean is that it is actually difficult to get maps, even of such important federal waters!

The anniversary is very interesting because this week Pope Francis has spoken about the importance of climate change in a major statement that has people all over the world discussing the problem and what role the church should or should not play. It is also this week that the Pacific nation of Palau has gotten a lot of attention for the dramatic way it is protecting its fish and corals. The boats that were used to fish illegally in Palau were burned to protect Palau's fish.

Geography's Cool = Geography School

We found a lot of enthusiasm for geography and noticed that students at all grade levels know and care a lot about the planet. Congratulations to St. Mary's for being a great example of how geographic teaching and learning is done. Most of that takes place in the classroom of course, but some evidence of the importance of geography at this school can be seen from space!

The templates to the world map and the US map shown here are available online from Ursa Major. A closer view can be had from the gym window. Spatial-thinking quiz: Which window was used to take this photograph?

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