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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Littleton Middle School, February 26

42° 32' 32" N
71° 29' 14" W 
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The EarthView team is delighted to be returning to Littleton Middle School. As we noted at the time of our 2012 visit, we pass within a few feet of this school quite often, as it located very close to Interstate 495, which is our main path to many of the schools we visit in northeastern Massachusetts.

Not only did we enjoy our first visit to Littleton Middle in 2012 -- the visit has become a regular part of our program publicity. The wonderful video the teachers made that day is still featured on our EarthView home page.

Video credit: Special-Ed Teacher and Instructional Videographer John Ogden (

During this visit, our EarthView team will include a special guest from our Geography Department. Dr. Rob Hellström is a geographer who specializes in weather and climate. The image above is from a weather station he and his students have placed in the Andes Mountains of Peru -- 15,000 feet above sea level. That is almost THREE MILES in the air, but in the Andes, that is ground level.

Dr. Hellström will be talking about this research with Littleton Middle students, and also about his work closer to home. He and his students have another weather station right on top of the science building where EarthView is stored -- and that station can be checked online any time. It's current weather is shown right here:
Dr. Hellström  and Dr. Hayes-Bohanan (part of the regular EarthView team) are working on plans to teach a course together in Peru on the geography of coffee and climate change. They will take students to coffee-farms in the lower elevations of 4 to 6 thousand feet, which are being dramatically affected by the changes in glaciers at 12 to 15 thousand feet

Friday, February 12, 2016

James L. Mulcahey Elementary School, Taunton- February 12th

41° 54' 16" N
71° 06' 43" 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!

We're back! Last week was a bit confusing with the snow day on Friday. We had gone to Horace Mann Middle School in Franklin last Thursday February 4th for their Family Geography Night and were supposed to have a day program on Friday but the snowstorm canceled that event so hopefully we will get back there soon! 

Snowfall totals Feb 5th, 2016

Today's visit brings us James L. Mulcahey Elementary School in Taunton! 

We have visited numerous schools in Taunton over the years but this is our first visit to Mulcahey Elementary! We are very excited to be bringing EarthView to students in the 2nd and 3rd grade. It is always fun to see the look of awe on the younger children's faces when they see the scope of EarthView, it really sparks their interest in the world and geography which is what we love to see! We need more geographers in the world! 

According to the Mulcahey school's website, the school was named for James L. Mulcahey who was a 1934 graduate of Taunton High School.He was inducted into the army in 1942 where he became Lieutenant Mulcahey and led troops into four major battles during World War II. He was awarded the Purple Heart for his bravery but died during battle in 1944. 

Our visit is on the 207th birthday of two very important leaders who most people do not know were born on the same day --  Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Happy Lincoln's Birthday and Happy Darwin Day!

We hope that the students enjoy their visit with EarthView today and we hope to be back again soon!


Friday, February 5, 2016

True Sizes

EarthView co-coordinator Dr. Hayes-Bohanan (first name James) saw this Bitstrip cartoon recently, and added the caption about Greenland. He is not really mad at Greenland of course; it is a geographer's joke about map projections.
Many people who enter EarthView are surprised to see that Greenland is not nearly as large as they had thought, and at first many think it must be a mistake. Globes, however, are the only kinds of maps that maintain the size, shape, direction, AND distance correctly. Flattening all or part of a map requires a projection, and one or more of these spatial properties is always sacrificed to emphasize the others.

Unfortunately, the very most common projection is the Mercator, which maintains direction correctly, but distorts size, shape, and distance, especially at high latitudes (near the north and south poles). The projection is ideal for navigation, but it is not good for understanding geographic patterns, especially at a global scale. Still, it appears most commonly in schools, textbooks, and on television news.

Fortunately, The True Size is a fun way to overcome this problem. This composite shows Greenland as it appears on Mercator maps and Greenland as it would appear if moved to Argentina.
This map is also an excellent way for learners of any age to develop spatial thinking. If we are studying a country that is not familiar, we can "pull" it to a more familiar area to get a better sense of its size and shape. The country of Syria, for example, is about the size and shape of New England, excluding northern Maine.

Another way, of course, is to learn more about projections and to select a projection that is appropriate for a particular use. The Map Projections page at is a great place to start.