EarthView team bios, guidelines, and more.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boston Marathon
Taylor Soell
Melissa Medeiros 

42° 21' 30" N
71° 03' 50" W

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The notable Boston Marathon, has been running continuously since 1897 and is considered the oldest annual marathon in the world. The first race only included fifteen runners who were men because women were not officially allowed to run the race until 1972. Although female runners had participated beginning in 1966, they were opposed by the race sponsor, the Boston Athletic Association. Boston Marathon was the first major marathon to include a wheelchair division in 1975 for men, and eventually included a wheelchair division for women in 1977. The beauty of the marathon is that it brings different cultures and nationalities from around the world together to participate in a 26. 2 miles long route to the finish line.

                                                                     Source: Adidas

This table represents the amount of victories based on different nationalities around the world. As shown, the United States has gained the most victories compared to other countries with a total of 98 wins. Kenya, falls second after the United States with a total of thirty-one wins, and Canada in third place with twenty-one wins.

The historic course starts on Main Street in the rural New England town of Hopkinton and follows Route 135 through Ashland, Framingham, Natick, and Wellesley to where Route 16 joins Route 135. It continues on Route 16 through Newton Lower Falls to Commonwealth Avenue, turning right at the fire station onto Commonwealth which is Route 30. It continues on Commonwealth through the Newton Hills, bearing right at the reservoir onto Chestnut Hill Avenue to Cleveland Circle. The route then turns left onto Beacon Street continuing to Kenmore Square, and then follows Commonwealth Avenue inbound. The course turns right onto Hereford Street (NOTE: against normal traffic flow) then left onto Boylston Street, finishing near the John Hancock Tower in Copley Square.

Map Source: BAA

Monday, April 14, 2014

Massachusetts State House -- Earth Day -- April 22 ... PLUS April 28

42° 21' 30" N
71° 03' 50" W

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EarthView has been on display in the Massachusetts State House several times, but this year will be a first. The general public -- including legislators -- will be invited to go inside the Earth on Earth Day.

Please plan to join us in historic Nurses Hall between 9 am and 2 pm on Tuesday, April 22. Bring your friends -- and remember to bring socks!

Also, we have the great fortune of being invited to return the the State House just a week later. We will be in Great Hall on Monday, April 28 from 9 am to 1 pm.

The State House is a secure facility with metal detectors, but is free and open to all. After you visit EarthView, be sure to explore the People's House, and consider taking a guided tour. 

Photo: Ashley Costa

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tenney Grammar School - March 21

42° 43' 53" N

 71° 10' 39" W
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The EarthView team is excited to be at Tenney Grammar School in Methuen again! As you may know, there is a plane that departed from Malaysia that has been missing since the 8th of March. As of the 5th-8th, unidentified "pings" have been heard underwater by China and Australia. There is no certainty that these "pings" are those from the black box of the plane, rescue teams have been cleared to search for the plane.

 The rescue teams are using thermal and satellite imagery, along with "buoys equipped with hydrophone listening devices" to aid the search for the missing plane. Should there be any signs of finding the wreckage of the Flight MH370, a miniature submarine will be deployed to map out the ocean floor and pinpoint the location of the plane.

Speaking of planes, a new plane is surging from Switzerland. The Solar Impulse 2, an idea from the Solar Impulse team, led by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, is the second running of solar planes from the team. The idea behind this is to make the plane run solely on solar energy from 17,000 solar panels. This plane will have a wingspan of 72 kilometers (or as we would know it, about 236 feet), and match that of a Boeing 747 plane.

Despite its wingspan, this plane is small, and weighs around the same as a large car. there is a cockpit that is big enough to house one person inside "comfortably" and will have an auto-pilot feature that acts as a co-pilot. The plane is scheduled to travel the globe in 5 months, never needing to stop to re-fuel, but making stops to switch over pilots. The plan is to make the journey happen in 10 different stretches, some lasting over 5 days. This plane may not be ready for the masses to travel in, but it is definitely a huge step forward in the future of solar technology.

Our visit is on April 11th, which is also the date when the Treaty of Paris came into effect in 1899. The treaty had been signed on December 10th, 1898, and signified the end of the Spanish-American War. One of the effects of the treaty was for Spain to cede Puerto Rico to the United States.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Moran Middle School at NERC! -- April 8-9

This is a guest post by geography students from Moran Middle School.

41° 29' 07" N
72° 49' 49" W

Hello! We are James H. Moran Middle School in Wallingford, Connecticut. We are in the 8th grade, and we entered an ACER contest to win tablets for our social studies classroom. The contest entry was supposed to be a video that explains why we deserve to win the tablets. We are one of the top ten finalists, if you could, please vote for Moran so we can discover more in our classroom! Vote here: Here is our video:


Some 8th grade Moran students attended NERC this year, and we set up our own tables and taught guests attending NERC how to use social media and other internet resources for educational purposes. We taught participants how to use Twitter, Instagram, Google Docs, Flickr, and we also did special interviews and a green screen that could take a picture with your favorite historical person!

It was very fun for us kids to teach adults how to use these things. Hopefully these teachers will take their new knowledge and spread it to their classrooms, maybe making the class easier and more enjoyable. We also hope that the people that visited us had just has much fun as we did. We also did a special interview inside of an inflated Earth. See the video

Some Moran students pose with EarthView at NERC!

The same students from a different perspective:

See more photos and some videos of the Mustangs at NERC on Flickr.

Monday, April 7, 2014

NERC 45, Sturbridge -- April 7-9

42° 06' 51" N
72° 05' 22" W 
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The EarthView team is very pleased to be joining our colleagues at NERC 45 -- the 45th annual Northeast Regional Conference of the National Council on Social Studies. This meeting takes place each year in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and brings together teachers of social studies from throughout New England.

On Saturday, EarthView was part of a program for science teachers on Cape Cod, and this week it is part of a program for social studies teachers from all over New England. This is because geography is a subject that has connections to many other subjects -- as the diagram below illustrates.

The relationship between geography and the other social studies subjects is so important that the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance will be hosting a Geography Policy Forum as part of the conference. We hope it will be just the first of many public forums held throughout Massachusetts over the next year.

Sunday, April 6, 2014


This photograph looks like an image from a science-fiction movie, in which a meteor has somehow come to rest on a Spanish village without crushing it. Or perhaps it could be someone having fun with Photoshop.

The reality is that this is a photo taken in a street in Setenil de las Bodegas, a small town in Spain, just a bit north of Gibraltar. Blogger MessyNessy explains how and why much of this town lives under a rock in an essay that includes many more fascinating photographs. It does not, however, include a map, which is provided below. Feel free to explore by zooming out and switching between map and satellite views.

What else can you learn about the region of Setenil de las Bodegas from exploring the map. What kind of agriculture appears to be prominent in this part of Spain?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Town of Barnstable

41° 39' N;  70° 17' W
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Climate Change

This Saturday, the EarthView team is visiting the town of Barnstable for a teacher-development workshop, and to talk about climate change. One relevant consequence of climate change is increased risk of coastal erosion.

Barnstable has been affected by erosion, especially because of Hurricane Sandy. Beaches in Barnstable and along the cape, were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and a lot of them look like the picture above. People have been coming together to clean up their beaches and prepare for the future, for when something like Sandy happens again.

Because understanding climate is an important first step in understanding climate change, the workshop will include a discussion of factors that influence the present distribution of climate zones and biomes. Our Cape Cod location is also an ideal place to focus on the importance of ocean currents in shaping climate. It is because of the currents that important differences in marine life are found on the north and south sides of the peninsula, just a few miles apart. 

EarthView is an ideal place to visualize the thermohaline circulation, otherwise known as the ocean conveyor belt. Learn more about the conveyor belt from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute  

Massachusetts Geography Bee -- Worcester Academy, April 4

42° 15' 07" N
71° 47' 28" W 
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EarthView will be resting this Friday, as some members of the team help to officiate the National Geography Bee. For the second year in a row, the Massachusetts portion of the event is proudly hosted by Worcester Academy. It is fitting that the event has returned to the Academy, one of whose graduates was an early president of the National Geographic Society and the first editor of its magazine.

The Bridgewater State University Department of Geography is supporting the event with a couple of maps. Dr. Boellstorff printed out a beautiful map of the state that will be on stage, with an opportunity for each participant to "pin" their hometown. Meanwhile, BSU student Jason Covert prepared the map below, based on registrations for the bee.

As Bay State participants are all aware, last reigning National Geography Bee champion is Sathwick Karnik of Plainville, Massachusetts. He and his family have been with EarthView several times during his victory year! Just as Sathwick met Alex Trebek at the final round last year, today's winner will meet Soledad O'Brien when she debuts as host this May.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Glover School, Marblehead: March 28

42° 29' 24" N
70° 52' 49" W 
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Also, compare today's coordinates to those of other recent EarthView outings, near and far!

Marblehead harbor. Image:
The EarthView team is very pleased to be visiting the second and third graders at Glover School in beautiful Marblehead, a town on the Atlantic coast about 18 miles north of Boston. The town is famous for all kinds of nautical activity. It is an important place in the history of both the Navy and the Marine Corps, and fishing has been important here for centuries. It is also a favorite destination for people who just enjoy boats!

The nautical activity of Marblehead reminds us of the beautiful nautilus shell. The sizes of the chambers are described by the numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, ...

Geographers are very interested in signs of what we call "sense of place." These are the ways that people represent characteristics that make their home regions unique or special. The town seal of Marblehead shows that boating -- and specifically boating related to fish -- is important to the town. Glover School includes a beautiful image of the seal in bronze. It shows a man fishing in a dory -- a small rowboat very commonly used for cod or pulling lobster traps. The Glover School displays this local seal -- along with the Massachusetts state seal -- right outside its library. It was recovered from the original 1906 school on the same site.

The Glover School is celebrating its namesake through the creation of mosaic honoring General John Glover. Because he was a whaleship captain as well as a military officer, students and teachers decided to pose the general with rowing oars. EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan was very excited to see this, since whaleboat rowing is one of his favorite hobbies.

The mosaic border names many virtues, such as respect, curiosity, and perseverance.

During our visit, we noticed that the second and third graders at Glover know as much about world geography as many junior high or high school students. Indeed, they tend to know more than many adults! In addition to excellent teaching and the involvement of parents with international experience, we learned that each second-grade classroom has a world map as a class rug. This map shows no political boundaries, but dots in some countries are color-coded to the flags around the perimeter.

Like the city of Quincy to the south of Boston, Marblehead is a location where granite is found at the surface. The Naumkeeg tribe called it Massebequash, which is also the name of the river that separates it from the city of Salem. English settlers renamed it Marblehead because they thought the granite headlands (seaside cliffs) were made of marble.

Our visit to the Glover School took place within the first month after its opening. It is on the site of a former school, and one of the few things that was kept is this granite outcropping. It is smooth enough that generations of students have used it as a natural sliding board. The smoothing was done during the Pleistocene Era, as a massive glacier scraped over the area. Boulders being carried under several thousand feet of ice scoured the stone like sandpaper!

On this date ...

It was 50 years ago today that the strongest earthquake ever to occur in the United States struck in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake measured 9.2 on the Richter Scale and was the second-largest quake ever recorded. On the map above from the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program,  the purple line shows where the Pacific Plate meets the North American Plate. The center of the earthquake was far below the surface. The epicenter (the place on land directly above the center) was in beautiful Prince William Sound. Damage from this quake included landslides, a tsunami, and the displacement of the land surface up to 11.5 meters (almost 40 feet) above its previous elevation, or 2.5 meters below where it had been. 

As with all of the world's most significant Earthquakes, this one occurred on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Feel the Noise

EarthView students know that we pay quite a bit of attention to the Ring of Fire, a zone of tectonic activity encircling the Pacific Ocean. Most of the planet's earthquakes and volcanoes are found in the coastal areas that comprise this famous region.

As residents of a small, quiet town in Connecticut have learned, however, earthquakes can occur very far from the Pacific. A few miles north of the Atlantic coast, in fact, earthquakes turned out to be the answer to a mystery that perplexed the people of Moodus for centuries. Yes, centuries! Moodus is short for morehemoodus, a Wangunk term meaning “place of noises.”

 According to the radio story Thunder in the Valley, unusual noises emanating from the ground in Moodus have been attributed to many possible causes, but it was eventually ascertained that very low-intensity earthquakes were responsible.

The most severe earthquake observed in Connecticut was in neighboring East Haddam in 1791, and it did create fissures and dislocate large rocks in Moodus. The most recent temblor took place in 2011, when a magnitude 1.3 earthquake startled the town.

Geographers are always interested in the ways people express what is unique about their local regions, and Moodus offers a very nice example Sports teams at the Nathan Hale-Ray High School are not sharks, lions, tigers, or falcons. They are simply the Noises!

For a time, the sports teams at Flowing Wells High School near Tucson, Arizona had a similar name: they were named the Artesians for the flowing wells that occurred naturally in the foothills of the Catalina Mountains and encouraged human settlement there for centuries. Eventually, however, the Flowing Wells athletes took on a less unusual name.

Congratulations to the Moodus Noises for their strong sense of place!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Malaysian Search

6°N; 104°E

Notice that these coordinates are in full degrees, without the precision of minutes and seconds we normally post for our school visits. In this case, the coordinates represent the last known location of MH370, the Malaysian Airlines flight that has been missing since Saturday, March 8.

Image: BBC -- Click to Enlarge
Most of Malaysia is found at the southern end of the long, narrow Malay Peninsula (the rest is on the neighboring island of Borneo). For this reason -- and because the plane had plenty of fuel when it disappeared, the search now includes vast areas of water both east and west of the country.

From a geographer in Brazil we learned that people all over the world are assisting in the search. In addition to planes and ships from several neighboring countries, people with computers all over the world are participating in the crowdsourced search for Flight MH370, by visually scanning some of the thousands of recent satellite images. The shear size of the area that needs to be examined means that volunteers from throughout the world may find something before it is found by searchers in the region.
Geography is essential for Search & Rescue professionals.
Image: BBC 
BBC coverage includes initial reports and latest news. Its reporting also explains the difficulties of searching in different areas of the ocean. Deep water is difficult for obvious reasons, but shallow water is also difficult because it may have more background noise from boats. As the story of this tragedy continues to unfold, it may be useful to browse the area using this map:

Friday, March 7, 2014

Sharon Middle School -- March 7

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!

The EarthView team is delighted to be back at Sharon Middle School, where we have been sharing geography lessons with seventh graders as well as with students from the preschool that shares space with the school. EarthView is an exciting experience for learners of all ages!
We were especially pleased to be at Sharon Middle School while students are celebrating Upstander Day (Thursday) and Mix-it-Up Day (Friday). This is a community that pays attention to taking care of and respecting each other, and that enjoys celebrating all the many cultures that come together in the town of Sharon.

During the final class of the day we spoke briefly about the importance of the Atlantic Ocean, but did not have time to discuss it in detail. A lot of the current tension in Crimea, for example, is related to the peninsula's position relative to the Atlantic, even though is is several thousand miles away.

Other EarthView blog posts has focused on the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Verde, the Atlantic as one of the world's five oceans, the Atlantic and Port Cities. Most interesting of all, perhaps, is the Biography of the Atlantic, and the idea that people in western Europe and western Africa did not really conceive of the Atlantic as an Ocean -- even though many of them lived near it -- until they knew about the Americas on the other side.

We look forward to coming to the town of Sharon one more time this semester -- when we go to the Cottage Street School in May.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sharon Middle School -- February 28

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!

On the last day of what has been a cold and snowy month, the EarthView team is returning to Sharon Middle School, which we first visited last April. It is a cold but clear and beautiful day to visit a neighboring town. We included some of the interesting aspects of Sharon's geography in last year's blog post.

Actually, part of the EarthView team is not with us -- Dr. Domingo is at National Geographic in Washington, meeting with members of the U.S. Congress to promote more geography education across the country. Fortunately, Dr. Domingo will be able to join us next week, as we are visiting Sharon twice this season.

Image and more detailed explanation from
Weather Underground.
EarthView is an ideal place to learn about the Polar Vortex, a pattern in the upper atmosphere that is responsible for the very cold weather we have been experiencing both in Massachusetts and in some places much further to the south. A "ridge" of high pressure in the northeast Pacific Ocean pushed warm air very far north toward Alaska, resulting in Arctic air being pushed unusually far south in the center of the continent. The phenomenon of continentality makes the effect of this anomaly even greater. In the Atlantic Ocean, high pressure over Greenland has a tendency to block the flow of air from New England, causing cold air to be stalled in our region.

While some people have been very surprised by these patterns, geographers and others who study climate change have been expecting meridional flows of this kind to be more common. The prevailing winds across the United States are west-to-east, but they are never strictly straight-line flows. They are actually a kind of Rossby wave, which has some north-south deflection. The words "zonal" and "meridional" describe the primary orientation of this kind of wave.
Image: University of Arizona Geography Department
Team member Courtney described her recent trip to Durban, South Africa, which is officially known as the eThekwini Municipality. As she pointed out, Durban is a lot like South Beach or Ft. Lauderdale, a good reminder that Africa is not just what we see in wildlife photographs!

No lions or zebras in sight!
Image: Nomads Gallery
Feel free to explore Durban and the rest of South Africa on Google Maps! Don't forget that you can click "Earth" to see a satellite view.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cambridge School of Weston

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 coordinator Dr. Hayes-Bohanan is pleased have brought EarthView to CSW, where his daughter is taking a course called Maps & Meaning. The art and history teachers who lead this innovative course are using EarthView as a special classroom to continue their explorations of the thinking revealed by maps.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Frolio, Abington -- February 14

See the Math!
42° 07' 06"N
70° 56' 47"W
How many degrees, minutes, and seconds away is your house? Check Stephen Morse for any U.S. address, or an atlas or globe for other places throughout the world.

The EarthView team is happy to be returning to Frolio Junior High School in Abington, just a few miles north of our home base in Bridgewater. We are blogging from campus, on a very LOVE-ly day to be in Abington, as the sun is coming out just in time for Valentine's Day.

Thanks to the geographers at Bucknell University for this example of a cordiform map projection to mark the occasion.

One of the United States is actually called the Valentine State because it was admitted to the Union on this date in 1912. Take a guess, and then read all about it on Celebrating the States, one of Dr. Hayes-Boh's family blogs.

Valentine's Day is also a perfect day to talk about the Wedding of the Waters at Manaus, Brazil. This is described in some detail on a blog post for a 2009 EarthView visit in Brockton. That post includes links to further information about Rondonia, in the western part of the Amazon basin.

During our visit we also discussed the new partnership between Bridgewater State University and the University of the State of Santa Catarina in Brazil. Students from the two universities can now do extended exchanges, in order to improve language skills (in Portuguese or English) and to learn each other's countries in greater depth.

We also discussed the upcoming soccer championship in Brazil, the World Cup. We look forward to hearing about Mr. Claus' experiences as he actually attends the Cup in Rio! The games will be played throughout the country, though: learn more about the geography of the World Cup from our blog, which we will be updating during June.

We also spent some time discussing the latest major activity in the Ring of Fire -- a volcanic eruption in Java, Indonesia. Mount Kelud erupted loudly just yesterday. The eruption could be heard over 100 miles away, and ash was sent well into the stratosphere -- 12 miles into the sky. Most of the damage from this volcano is from the settling ash, which behaves something like a very heavy, dirty snow.

Monday, February 3, 2014

EarthView Spring Visits

During the winter break, EarthView made its first international journey, as part of an environmental education program in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan visits the area every year as part of his Geography of Coffee study tour.
For the first time, Dr. Hayes-Bohanan and BSU students brought EarthView to Nicaragua, where we worked with local youth to give a presentation about the environment and geography to children in Matagalpa.
Now that EarthView is back at its home in Bridgewater, it is ready to go out to schools throughout Massachusetts. The schedule may change. As of today -- February 3, 2014 -- here is where EarthView is headed:

Friday, February 7: Inly School, Scituate
Friday, February 14: Frolio Middle School, Abington
Wednesday, February 19 (evening): Franklin Middle School, Franklin
Friday, February 28: Sharon Middle School, Sharon
Friday, March 7: Sharon Middle School, Sharon
Saturday, March 8: Westfield State University
March 21: Howe-Manning School, Middleton
Friday, March 28: Grover Middle School, Marblehead
Tuesday & Wednesday, April 8-9, New England Regional Conference on Social Studies, Sturbridge
Friday, April 11: Tenney Grammar School, Methuen
Tuesday, April 15: University of Dohuk, Kurdistan
Friday, May 2: Oak Ridge School, East Sandwich
Thursday evening, May 8: Horace Mann, Franklin
Friday, May 9: Barnstable Intermediate
Friday, May 16: Barnstable Intermediate
Friday, May 30: Cottage Street School, Sharon
Friday, June 6: Tantasqua Regional Junior High School, Fiskdale
Friday, Jun 13: Bridgewater Middle School

Friday, November 1, 2013

Spofford Pond School, Boxford -- Nov 1

(Visit more about Lat/Long for ideas that combine math and geography learning.)

We have enjoyed several visits to Spofford Pond School in the past, and are delighted to be back this year. It is a school that really enjoys teaching and learning geography. In fact, during our visit we are learning about a special project the sixth graders are involved in a very special project in Global Citizenship.

The school and orphanage being constructed in
Grand Goâve, Haiti.
The project is to raise funds for a foundation named Be Like Brit, which provides education and a home for children in the country of Haiti. As Spofford Pond students know, the foundation is named for Brit 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.

The school is being built in Grand Goâve, but the EarthView team has not yet been able to locate it on Google Maps. This can be for one of three reasons: 1) the satellite imagery used by Google has not yet been updated; 2) it is located near the town, but not right in it; or 3) we just have not looked carefully enough.

CHALLENGE: We hope that someone from Spofford Pond School can help us find the school, and provide the exact latitude and longitude so we can update this post. Whoever finds it can let us know using the COMMENTS link below this post. Hint: Look at the Orphanage Photos page on Be Like Brit for some visual clues.
View Larger Map to explore the area. How far is it from the capital city? While looking at Haiti, compare its forest cover to that of neighboring Dominican Republic. One important reason for the extreme poverty of Haiti is the destructive practice of forest removal by French colonizers over 200 years ago. 

Early on the day of our visit, an earthquake occurred at 30.298°S 71.557°W. Notice that these coordinates are presented in degrees and decimal portions of degrees, rather than degrees-minutes-seconds. Still, the information provided is enough to figure out the country where this particular earthquake took place.

ANOTHER CHALLENGE: Where was it? What ocean is very nearby?
(The answer is at Don't click until you've tried to figure it out!)

In 2010 -- just a few weeks after the earthquake in Haiti -- this South American country experienced one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded. It caused a lot of damage, of course, but much less than had occurred in Haiti. At the time, we posted an article providing several geographic reasons that the earthquake in Haiti causes so much more damage than the one in South America. Learn more about Haiti from the Help. Hope. Haiti. blog established at Bridgewater State University in the weeks following the 2010 Earthquake.

Several times during our visit, the Globe Lady discussed tropical rain forests with several of the classes. As she mentioned, it is sometimes surprising that rain forests are actually quite difficult places for farming. Although rain and warm temperatures are good for crops, the constant rain and heat that sustains the tallest forests actually makes it difficult to grow crops. The heavy rain leaches nutrients from the soil, and the constant warmth provides an abundance of crops, many of which love to eat crops! It is sometimes surprising to learn that the most productive biome supports very small human populations. The effect is visible from nighttime satellites images, on which rain forests look mostly empty.

The great variety of species -- biodiversity -- in tropical rain forests allows them to survive in this difficult environment. No insect is interested in all of the varieties of plants, and the complex layers of vegetation and epiphytes allow nutrients to be cycled above ground -- sometimes right through the bark of trees!

As the the globe lady pointed out, rain forest biome is found in many locations around the equator, where the temperature and moisture conditions are the same. These include the rain forests of the Congo Basin, Indonesia, and the Amazon Basin. EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Boh became a geographer because of his interest in the Amazon, and has written quite a lot about one particular part of the Brazilian Amazon -- the state of Rondonia.

We also sometimes describe the Wedding of the Waters, where the Amazon River is formed from the Rio Solimões (which is cloudy with sediment from the Andes) and Rio Negro (which is clear and dark with the tannic acids of the northern tributaries). The confluence of these rivers in Manaus is considered by many to be the start of the Amazon River, which flows so slowly that the two rivers do not mix for many miles.

View Larger Map

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back to North Andover

The EarthView team was very please to return to North Andover for the fifth annual Family Geography Night, which has been recognized throughout Massachusetts for its success of bringing an entire community together to learn and enjoy geography!

For more information about North Andover and these programs, please see previous North Andover posts on this blog and in its archived precursor (from BSC days). Each visit has allowed EarthView to be enjoyed by more than 800 members of the North Andover community.

Friday, October 4, 2013

North Reading Middle School -- Oct. 5

42° 34' 36" N
71° 05' 17" W

Learn more about Lat/Long

EarthView returns to North Reading today, on the 56th anniversary of the Soviet satellite Sputnik. This small, simple satellite could do nothing more than send a simple "ping" message back to the surface, but the fact that the Soviet Union was able to launch it before the United States energized the space program under Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, eventually leading to human exploration of the moon.

Many of the tools that were developed as part of the space program are now used by geographers to learn more about the earth itself. These include earth-exploration programs such as LANDSAT, which monitors land use and conditions on a regular basis. It is also the basis for Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and for Google Maps and many other web sites that show what the earth looks like from above.

During some of the EarthView sessions today, Dr. Hayes-Bohanan described his visits with students to Cerro Negro and to the nearby volcanic islands in Lake Nicaragua. These islands are formed in a very unusual way, as each is a small piece of a large flow of lava from the nearby volcano Mombacho. Zoom out to see the relationship between the islands and the volcano. Zoom in to see the houses that occupy many of the islands. Some are the humble homes of people who earn their living fishing in Lake Nicaragua, while others are the vacation homes of some of the wealthiest families in Central America.

View Larger Map

Learn much more from our volcano roundup post.

Quashnet School, Mashpee -- Sept. 27

41° 37' 27" N70° 29' 41" W

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EarthView's went to Cape Cod for its first program of the autumn season. Previous visits to Mashpee have been to the Middle School at  41° 36' 57" N, 70° 30' 34" W. Use the "Learn more" link above for ideas on how to use these coordinates for activities at home or in the classroom.
One of the great things about the Quashnet school (which has both an active web site and a frequently-updated school blog), is its labyrinth, visible here from Google Maps. 

View Larger Map

At least two members of the EarthView team completed the labyrinth, which is distinct from a maze, in that the proper route is not a mystery or puzzle. Rather, the maze provides an opportunity to calm the mind and enter a centered, balanced state that facilitates learning.

Our visit took place shortly after a new island was formed near the coast of Pakistan on September 26. This island is just about the size of a football or soccer field, and about 60 feet tall at the center. Because the internal pressure of volcanic gases is largely responsible for the emergence of the island, it may soon collapse below sea level, so that the world's newest island will probably soon be an extinct island.