Visit the EarthView web site to meet the team and learn about the project.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Ellis Island


The United States is a nation of immigrants, a fact that is often repeated but just as often forgotten. Twelve million people migrated to the United States through a single point between 1892 and 1954. Now at least 100,000,000 Americans are thought to be descended from those who entered through Ellis Island.

Ellis Island: Through America's Gateway is an introduction created at Mt. Carmel High School in California. The History Channel's Ellis Island page is more comprehensive, with videos and links to recommended articles. The Ellis Island Foundation hosts a searchable database; details require a paid subscription, but finding names and dates of entry is free. I learned that 3 passengers shared my paternal grandfather's last name (though I know his branch of the family arrived before Ellis Island opened) and 49 shared my maternal grandfather's name (one of those might be an ancestor). The job is made much easier by the fact that my name is not "Smith," of which there were over 69,000 registered!

Last and certainly not least, Scholastic's site Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today is full of stories about immigration from Ellis Island as well as more recent times, up to the present generation of migrants. The site includes activities, such as graphing, mapping, and oral histories.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

North Andover Middle School -- Dec 16 & 17

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 enjoying its third visit to North Andover Middle School, a regional leader in geographic education. Mr. Poirier has once again arranged a Family Geography Night, of which EarthView is a part.


Students and EarthView coordinators Drs. Domingo and Hayes-Bohanan enjoyed a variety of discussions "all around the world" from recent news stories to the geography of coffee. Some classes also spent time sketching the globe from the outside, labeling whatever details they could identify on their own.



The results were impressive:



Mr. Poirier recently arranged for Mike Cambra of Mission to Liberia 

to speak to about 200 students in the auditorium. As the students learned, this is a Massachusetts-based organization that is doing a lot of great work to support relief and development projects in the country of Liberia, a western African country with interesting historical connections to the United States. The main project of Mission to Liberia this year is raising money to provide clean water in communities in Liberia. The Massachusetts Geographic Alliance recently presented its annual Glenn Miller Award to the organization, and is working with Bridgewater State University to support its important work.


Get more Africa Maps from the 
Perry-Castañeda Library
Map Collection


Monday, December 13, 2010

Survivor Islands

In addition to the EarthView blog, I also write for Wiley GeoDiscoveries, a blog hosted a major publisher of geography text books. For the past couple of weeks, we have been using EarthView to show the location of Tokelau and to discuss the recent rescue of three teenagers from that Pacific island nation that were lost at sea, and I published maps and other information on the EarthView blog.

Then I noticed that the story of the rescue occurred just before another interesting story about survival on Pacific Islands. This was the effort of people from small islands throughout the world to get people at the U.N. Climate Conference to consider what will happen to them and their countries as sea level rises. My article on GeoDiscoveries is called Survivor Islands.

~~ Dr. Hayes-Bohanan

Source: AOSIS

Friday, December 10, 2010

Atlantic: Biography of an Ocean

During our visit to Berkley Middle School, Dr. Domingo mentioned Simon Winchester's book, Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories. In it, Mr. Winchester -- who lives in western Massachusetts -- describes his year of travel around the entire Atlantic Basin, encompassing the coasts of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

He shared many photos and stories of his journey on The World from Public Radio International. He was also interviewed on the National Public Radio program Morning Edition, which posted his interview and excerpts of the book.

Berkley Middle School

41° 50' 56" N
71° 05' 03" W 
Learn more about Lat/Long (including how to look them up by address)


The EarthView Team is delighted to be returning to the Berkley Middle School, which we visited just before Halloween last year. A major attraction in Berkley is the Dighton Rock State Park, occupying 85 acres along the Taunton River, in a stretch of the river where fresh and salt water meet and mix. The park is named for a large rock that was deposited there by a glacier. Known as a glacial erratic, the rock was deposited as ice melted away in this area, between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago -- the blink of a geologic eye! 




Public domain photo from Wikimedia

The rock itself -- covered in petroglyphs (rock carvings) of unknown origins, has been moved to the inside a museum. Dr. Domingo and Dr. Hayes-Bohanan share a fascination with glacial erratics. See photos of erratics we encountered in Wareham and Eastham during a recent BSU Geography Department field camp on Cape Cod. We have discovered that about a decade ago, a group of folk musicians in Alaska were known as the Glacial Erratics, following the ice seasonally from their home to other parts of the country.

The Dighton Rock State Park is located in Berkley, across from the Taunton River estuary from the town of Dighton. We look forward to finding out from Berkley students what other features of the town should not be missed!



View Larger Map

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Vast Ocean, Avast!

On October 5, three boys, aged 14 and 15, set out to visit a girl they had just met at a rugby game. They were on the island of Atafu, the northernmost of three atolls in Tokelau. She had returned to her home on the southernmost island, 100 miles away. They set off in a 12-foot-boat (which could fit inside EarthView) with a few coconuts, and did not realize they were lost at sea until two weeks later. By then, a search team from New Zealand had tried -- and failed -- to find them.

A week after that, they caught a sea bird, which would be their only food source until being rescued on November 24, about 600 miles from home. They wHere taken to a hospital in Fiji, where they were found to be in remarkably good health.

They survived long after funerals had been held for them, and were at sea longer than has been documented for any other unsupported humans.

The unusual spatial pattern of the islands of the Pacific is one that many EarthView visitors find amazing. Fiji is close to the International Dateline, just off the top of EarthView's zipper. Hundreds of other islands are found throughout the Pacific -- far more than in the other oceans -- often tiny dots that are separated by huge distances, and arranged in interesting ways. Tokelau is a series of three rings, each a few miles across, with people able to inhabit only the outer edges of each. The rings are spaced evenly over 100 miles, but with a total land area of only 5 square miles! At 1,500 people, the population of the country is less than half the size of the student body at the public high school in Brockton, Massachusetts!


CIA map from thePerry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
at the University of Texas

The vast distances between small population centers leads to interesting results; when they were brought to Fiji, the boys were visited by relatives living there. This was not at all surprising, even though they were in a small place 600 miles from home! Today's news (which was available yesterday because of that dateline phenomenon) reported that the boys had returned home, meaning that they had flown to American Samoa, and would only have to wait two more weeks for a boat to carry them to Tokelau.

Learn more about the fascinating geography of this region from Maps of the South Pacific, a travel web site that provides an interactive map of the region as a whole and individual maps of each country. The site also explains the distinctions among Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia. (It does not cover Macronesia, which is nearly antipodean, in the North Atlantic.

Earlier this year, the EarthView team followed the progress of Katie Spotz, whose Row for Water project took her across the Atlantic Ocean. She was at sea for 70 days, in a well-stocked boat and plenty of communication equipment. From her voyage we learned some of the risks involved in small-craft travel on the high seas.

Both for Katie's planned voyage and for the boys' unplanned voyage, fresh water was, ironically, a key consideration. Katie had a water filtration kit. The boys used a tarp to gather rain and mist at night. In their case, this was starting to be inadequate and they had begun to drink seawater, a dehydrating practice that would likely have proven fatal had they been at sea a few more days.

See BBC video about the story.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kennedy Middle School, Woburn -- Dec 3

N 42 ° 29' 34" W 71 ° 08' 46"
Learn more about Lat/Long (including how to look them up by address)



EarthView is making its first appearance in Woburn, at the Kennedy Middle School.

Our visit on December 3 coincides with the anniversaries of several geographically-significant events.

1984: A toxic cloud at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India killed thousands of residents in their sleep, drawing attention to industrial safety in developing countries
1979: Iran accepted its constitution, weeks after U.S. hostages were taken
1975: Lao People's Democratic Republic proclaimed, as the government falls to communist forces
1967: First human heart transplant: Dr. Christian Barnard in South Africa
1833: First coeducational college opens: Oberlin, Ohio

Because of the Kennedy School's proximity to the now famous site of Wells G&H, we will be speaking with the older students about the role of medical geography in addressing toxic waste contamination and its affects on public health.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trinity Catholic Academy, Brockton -- Nov 12

N 42 ° 04' 51.2" 
W 71 ° 00' 23.0"
Learn more about Lat/Long (including how to look them up by address)
Here is a challenge: This school is close to the only land-based degree confluence in Massachusetts. How far is it from that point in degrees, minutes and seconds? How far is it in miles or kilometers?


The EarthView team is looking forward to its return to Trinity Catholic Academy, which we last visited in May, 2009. We have literally seen thousands of students since then, but we look forward to returning to Trinity, where our own Ms. Joyce is one of the teachers. We know her students will be ready with great geography questions for the team.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Largest Countries

Although the EarthView globe does not show political boundaries, we often discuss the locations of countries, especially those with the largest populations. As of 2010, the ten most populous countries are those listed above. The U.S. Census Bureau's country rankings page allows users to find the rank of any country in any year from 1950 to 2050 (future rankings are estimates, of course).

To make direct comparisons possible, the database shows the ranking of Russia for all years, even though prior to 1991 it was not listed separately and was part of the Soviet Union's number-three ranking. Its first post-Soviet ranking was number six, but it has now fallen to number nine. Use the database to estimate when Russia will drop from the top-ten ranking in population.

Its position as the largest country by land area will not change, of course, as 11.5 percent of the earth's land is in Russia, no matter how many people live there.


COUNTRY OR AREA
POPULATION
2010
China
1,330,141,295
India
1,173,108,018
United States
310,232,863
Indonesia
242,968,342
Brazil
201,103,330
Pakistan
184,404,791
Bangladesh
156,118,464
Nigeria
152,217,341
Russia
139,390,205
Japan
126,804,433

This map was created by the US CIA but is
hosted on the web site of the Embassy of Russia to the UK

Armenian Sisters' Academy, Lexington -- November 15

42° 26' 16" N
71° 13' 06" W

Learn more about Lat/Long

Members of the EarthView team and other Bridgewater State University Geographers are looking forward to a visit to the Armenian Sisters' Academy in Lexington on November 15. Our visit is on the anniversary of several interesting geographic events, which are listed at the end of this post.

The school was founded by Sister Alphonsa Bedrosian, beginning as a much smaller institution in Watertown and expanded on its current campus in 1982. The school serves both Armenian and non-Armenian children through middle school, with an emphasis on Armenian history and culture. The Armenian Sisters of the Immaculate Conception operate the academy in Lexington as well as two others in the United States -- in Philadelphia and Los Angeles -- as well as others throughout the world.


View Larger Map




Armenia is a small country located in the center of the Caucasus region of southeastern Europe. Many Armenian Americans live in the greater Boston area. See the Armenia maps at the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection for more maps Armenia and the surrounding region, reflecting boundaries recognized by the United States. Also see the fascinating and complete collection of maps at Armenica.org. We are using maps from both collections in a special slide show for students at the Academy.

The EarthView visit takes place on the anniversary of several significant geographic milestones.



November 15, 1990
President Bush signed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, making the 1970 law stronger



November 15, 1806
Explorer Zebulon Pike sighted Pikes Peak, in Colorado, which was later named in his honor.
Image: Pikes Peak Radio & Electronics Museum

November 15, 1763
Almost a century before the U.S. Civil War, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon began surveying Mason-Dixon Line between Pennsylvania and Maryland.





Monday, November 1, 2010

North Reading Middle School

42° 34' 36" N
71° 05' 17" W

Learn more about Lat/Long

North Reading is the home of Jon Favreau, who graduated from North Reading High School less than a decade ago and is already the chief speech-writer for President Barack Obama.

The EarthView team is visiting North Reading Middle School on November 5, on the 75th anniversary of the board game Monopoly. What is geographic about this game? (Hint: In 1972, fans of the game actually prevented a U.S. city from changing the names of two of its streets!)

November 5 is also the date on which -- in 1492 -- Christopher Columbus first learned about corn, the cultivation of which had by then already spread from central Mexico to the island of Cuba. What is the importance of corn today?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Coincidence in the Ring of Fire?

EarthView students know that the island nation of Indonesia -- the world's fourth-most populous country -- is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire. 

The eruption and the earthquake that triggered the tsunami this week occurred 800 miles apart, affecting two separate islands -- Java and Sumatra. They may be related, as have similarly distant events in the past, such as an Alaska earthquake and geyser activity in Yellowstone, Wyoming. Indonesia is the most tectonically active place on Earth, however, so it will be some time before a connection can be proven or discounted.

Learn more about this week's tragedies and the possible connections from National Geographic magazine.

National Geographic photo of damage from 2004 tsunami

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gordon Mitchell School, East Bridgewater -- October 22

42° 01' 50" N
70° 56' 43" W

Learn more about Lat/Long

The EarthView team is delighted to be returning to the Gordon W. Mitchell School in neighboring East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, which the team last visited in 2009. In fact, two Mitchell students are close family friends of team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan.

The school is located very close to a site known as Sachem Rock, where the original conveyance of land from the Wampanoag Indians to Miles Standish in 1651. This land became the town of Bridgewater in 1656, and that town was eventually divided into what we now know as seven different cities and towns. In some ways, this was the beginning of the westward expansion of what would become the United States.

During the visit, the team was accompanied by Kiado Cruz, a farmer and activist from Chiapas, Mexico, and his team from Witness for Peace. They gave a presentation on the importance of local agriculture at Bridgewater State University on October 21 as part of a New England tour of schools, churches, and civic organizations. Although Kiado, Nikky, and Susan did not have a chance to visit with Mitchell students, they did have an opportunity to see the world from the inside, and to contemplate their own important work in a global context.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Drying Lakes

Lake Chad images (1972 and 1987)
 as posted Waterless on the Town Square blog
EarthView is a terrific learning tool, whether viewed from inside or out. During today's program at the Ahern Middle School, a student looking at north-central Africa from outside asked about the body of water surrounded by dry land. What she was noticing was Lake Chad, which was once the sixth-largest lake in the world but had already lost a considerable amount of its surface area by the time EarthView was painted in the 1990s. In that sense it is much like the Aral Sea, which long ago surrendered its status as the world's fourth-largest lake, and which the EarthView artist represented with a similar, broad fringe of dry land.

Both lakes are found in arid or semi-arid lands, and are shared by multiple countries -- Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon in the first case and Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the latter. Moreover, in the case of the Aral Sea, lands in four additional countries contributed directly to the drainage area of the sea.

Image from the Fire Earth blog
Growing or shrinking lakes represent shifts in the water balance for the watersheds (also known as drainage basins) in which they are found. Lakes can shrink as a result of water use that exceeds rainfall in the basin as a whole. This in turn can affect habitat in and near the lake, the availability of irrigation or drinking water, and even the regional climate.

Both of these shrinking lakes are excellent examples of the use of satellite images to monitor lakes. The  United State Geological Survey  (USGS) includes both Lake Chad and the Aral Sea in its EarthShot series, which documents many other examples of the uses of remote sensing. The Visualizing Earth project at UC-San Diego has a similar Aral Sea page that -- like the EarthShots pages -- allows users to move between satellite and ground-level images.

For decades to come, Lake Chad and the Aral Sea will remain reminders of how seriously humans can damage the natural environments on which we depend. Despite the bad news, some positive steps are being taken: international bodies are working together to protect the wetlands of Lake Chad and a new dam is helping to increase the flow of water to the Aral Sea. People in many countries have much more to do, however, if these lakes are to be fully restored!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ahern Middle School - Foxborough - October 15

42° 4' 27" N
71° 14' 18" W

Learn more about Lat/Long
The John J. Ahern Middle School in Foxborough is hosting the EarthView team for the third time in the program's three years. A lot has happened with EarthView and with the Geography Department that runs the program  since the first visit in 2008.
For example, the department is no longer part of Bridgewater State College -- it is now part of Bridgewater State UNIVERSITY, a teaching university that will continue to serve the region. Second, the department -- formerly in the School of Arts & Sciences -- is now part of the university's new School of Science & Mathematics.  Geography is both a social and a physical science, connected to the other so-called STEM disciplines.
The EarthView team is particularly interested to learn that Ahern will soon have a family math night. We will be sharing ideas with Ahern teachers about ways to include geographic fun in that event!
To learn more about what EarthView has achieved over the past three years and what still lies ahead, the team invites you to scroll through the blog -- which now has close to 100 articles about school visits, geographic education, and some fascinating stories of our planet!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Circle of Illumination

WORLD SUNLIGHT MAP
In the hallway outside the Geography Department office at Bridgewater State University is a fascinating device known as Geochron. Manufactured decades ago, it is a combination map and clock that is configured so that it always represents the areas of the earth in sunlight and darkness. At all times, exactly one half of the earth is illuminated by the sun, though cloud cover can affect how much reaches the surface and latitude can influence its intensity. The 50 percent in sunlight is known as the circle of illumination, because the boundary between sunlight and darkness forms a circle.

On the equinoxes, the circle of illumination intersects both the north and south poles, but during the rest of the year, the circle appears tilted first one way and then another, as the earth orbits the sun at a constant 23.5-degree angle. During this orbit, the apparent position of the sun changes steadily, and it appears directly overhead at only one place at a time on the planet. That location is known as the sub-solar point, and it oscillates from the Tropic of Cancer on the summer solstice to the Tropic of Capricorn on the winter solstice (as defined in the northern hemisphere -- people in the south use the opposite terminology).

On the original, mechanical Geochron, a small dot represents the single place on earth -- always in the tropics -- where the sun appears to be directly overhead. Of course, there is only one such point at any time, known as the sub-solar point because it appears to be under the sun.It moves from the Tropic of Cancer on our summer solstice to the Tropic of Cancer on our winter solstice, crossing the equator on the equinoxes.

Two digital versions of the GeoChron are readily available online. The World Sunlight Map shown above also represents current cloud cover and is available in several different projections. The NIST version from the National Institute of Standards is accompanied by the current, official time as used for U.S. Government purposes. (Be sure to adjust the time zone or display options if necessary.)

With parental permission, it is also now possible to install a miniature version of the GeoChron as a desktop gadget on your computer, allowing you to track the sun at all times.

We invite EarthView participants to view the mechanical GeoChron in our geography department, in order to see the circle of illumination in more detail and to marvel at the clever, compact design. On the mechanical version, it is also possible to see how the sun's noon position advances and retreats through the year not only by latitude but also by longitude, tracing the figure-eight shape of the analemma.

World Daylight Clock on Your Desktop

The circle of illumination always lights half of the earth's surface, with the other half left in darkness and a thin band of twilight in between. You can check the digital version of GeoChron on the EarthView blog throughout the year to learn how the illuminated area changes through the seasons. You can also -- with parental permission -- install the World Daylight Clock (a Google Gadget) on your desktop to watch the progress of the sun minute-by-minute.

I captured the image above just a couple minutes ago, while writing this article. It shows that my home in Bridgewater is about to rotate into the circle of illumination, and indeed it is twighlight outside my window.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spofford Pond School, Boxford -- September 24

Spofford Pond School
42°41'46"N 
71°01'02"W
(Learn more about Lat/Long for ideas that combine math and geography learning. For example, this is the farthest north we have taken EarthView; an article in the archives for November 2009 indicates the one time we came closest to this latitude -- what college was the site of that visit?)

Most EarthView programs are in Southeastern Massachusetts, relatively close to EarthView's home base at Bridgewater State University.

As geographers, we love to travel to new places, and most of the team has spent little if any time in Boxford prior to this visit. Also, our goal is to improve geographic education throughout Massachusetts, so we are delighted to have our first North Shore school visit.

In exploring the geography of Boxford, we learned that it is facing an environmental problem that some might find surprising: the margin between forest and growing suburbs includes ideal conditions for beavers. Adorable as beavers may be, they create an unusual set of problems for suburban homeowners. The town web site includes a report on beaver encroachment and what to do about it.

The EarthView team learned some interesting news about geographic research from Spofford Pond teacher Ms. Sorensen. As reported by Discovery, computer models have provided a plausible explanation for the biblical story of the parting of the Red Sea.

Friday, September 17, 2010

East Middle School in Braintree - Sept 17


42°13'15"N 
70°59'23"W
(How far is this from South Middle School? Learn more about Lat/Long)

The EarthView team is delighted to continue the new school year with a return to Braintree. We encountered a lot of great geography students last week at South Middle School. We have provided the latitude and longitude of each school (as we do for all EarthView programs).

Here is a challenge: How far apart are the schools? They would be in the same little red dot of our laser pointer on EarthView, but there is some distance between them. It be measured in feet, miles, meters, inches, or kilometers along the road or along a straight line. It can also be measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds on the globe!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

South Middle School in Braintree -- September 10

42°11'02"N 
70°59'53"W
(Learn more about Lat/Long

After quite an exciting summer of special appearances (see recent blog posts below) the EarthView Team is delighted to be reunited for the start of our third school year. Close to 20,000 students and community members have seen EarthView in the past two years, and we look forward to bringing our program to thousands more this year -- each in small groups that have the special experience of seeing the earth from the inside out!

We started the year with two programs in Braintree, the first of which was at South Middle School, where Mrs. Drayer teaches geography through the Olympics! We also learned that Mrs. Drayer and EarthView team member are both proud UMBC Retrievers!


Bridgewater State University

41°59'15"N 
70°58'12"W
(Kelly Gymnasium)

After 170 years as a Normal School, Teachers' College, State College -- with a few other titles over the years as well -- the home of EarthView is now the Geography Department at Bridgewater State University, the largest institution in the new Massachusetts State University system.

Opening Day this year included a visit from Gov. Deval Patrick, a fly-over courtesy of the BSU aviation program, and of course an EarthView exhibition! We were honored that our visiting librarian-scholar from Cambodia took the time to visit EarthView; having seen the Mapparium in Boston earlier in her visit, she will return to Cambodia with two very memorable geography experiences!
BSU Library Assistant Joan Luiz, Pannasastra University Librarian Vanna Sok, and EarthView Team member James Hayes-Bohanan pose directly "south" of Cambodia on BSU Opening Day.
BSU relies on energetic, cheerful, and well-informed Orientation Leaders to welcome each class to campus. This year, the OLs were enthusiastic participants in their own special orientation to the planet! One of the OLs is actually a BSU geography major. (She is shown above, in the red shirt.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Latitude/Longitude Converters

Geographers and other scientists use latitude and longitude to identify places on earth reliably and precisely. Every location on earth has a unique combination of latitude (north or south of the equator) and longitude (east or west of the Prime Meridian). Geographer Matt Rosenberg explains these concepts in more detail in his article Latitude and Longitude: Discover the Secrets of Parallels and Meridians.

Latitude and longitude are each expressed as degrees or fractions of degrees. At the equator, a whole degree can be used to locate a place to within a mile or so -- a suitable level of precision for locating a city, for example. A degree comprises 60 minutes, so that a latitude or longitude expressed in degrees and minutes is precise to roughly 100 feet, which is suitable for a lot of purposes, such as finding a house. Fractions of an arc minute are known as seconds, and again there are 60 to each minute. At the equator, coordinates expressed as degrees, minutes and seconds would be precise within a couple of feet. Fractions of a second might be used for even more precise work, such as the location of property boundaries, the corners of a building, or the location of a well. (The caveat "at the equator" is used above because the surface length of a degree of latitude changes slightly from the equator to the poles because of the oblateness of the earth's shape, and the length of a degree of longitude changes dramatically, down to zero at the poles, because of the convergence of the lines there.)

Followers of this blog may already be familiar with the latitude/longitude lookup utility created by Steve Morse, which allows users to look up addresses and find latitudes and longitudes. What is especially useful about this site is that it does not draw on just one source. It uses various mapping web sites, showing that although each site is precise to the equivalent of inches or millimeters, they are only as accurate as the datasets upon which they are based. For any given address, users may find small or large differences, depending on how large a property is, and how each database treats its proximity to nearby roads.

For various reasons, it is often useful to express latitude and longitude as decimal fractions of degrees, rather than minutes and seconds. This is particularly true if distance or area calculations are being made on the basis of the coordinates. Geographers usually prefer the conventional terms, however. Conversion from one to the other is relatively simple, but it can be tedious. For this reason, the conversion utility from the FCC is particularly helpful. It allows users to enter coordinates in either format (d-m-s or decimal) and convert easily to the other. Another interesting utility allows the distance between two points to be calculated from their respective coordinates.

Have you ever heard that if you could dig a really deep hole, you could get to China? From locations in North America, this would not be the case, even if digging such a whole were possible. Geographers can use latitude and longitude to make a simple calculation of where such a journey would end, by finding the antipode. In fact, for most locations on land, the antipode is in a body of water.

"Earth Sandwich" enthusiasts have made a fun geographic project of marking antipodes by making 8,000-mile-thick sandwiches of the earth, with a piece of toast carefully located on opposite sides of the planet at the same time. A similar hobby is the marking of degree confluence points in the geodetic grid, one of which is located very close to EarthView's home in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Photos from Summer of Science program

EarthView team members Dr. Domingo and Dr. Hayes-Bohanan thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy on July 9 to be part of the Summer of Science kick-off event. (Our team also included geography alumna Monique Buckley, educator and photographer extraordinaire and winner of the Rao Scholarship.) We enjoyed the company of faculty, staff, and students from all six CONNECT campuses who are bringing very impressive Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) outreach programs to the young people of southeastern Massachusetts. It was great to see so many committed colleagues and students from public higher education contributing to the development of human capital of our region from early childhood through post-graduate education.

We also had occasion to meet some of the area children who participate in the programs, and the CONNECT leaders and other officials who advocate tirelessly for public higher education in our Commonwealth. We had time to take a few photos of our own, but we know other media were present, and we hope to provide links to additional coverage in the next few days.
As EarthView fans know, we will take our giant globe anywhere there is an audience. For this occasion, we rose to a unique challenge, and safely inflated EarthView among the model engines in a mechanical teaching bay.
We were delighted to continue our discussion of K-16 geography education with our own Dr. Dana Mohler-Faria (r), President of Bridgewater State College and with Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville (2nd from left).
We were also pleased to show EarthView to Dr. Jean MacCormack, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and Admiral Richard Gurnon, President of Mass Maritime and host of this lovely event. 

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dartmouth Middle students journey to center of Earth

Thanks to South Coast Today for letting the Dartmouth community know about EarthView's June 8 visit to Dartmouth Middle School.

We will be back on the South Coast on July 9 as part of the Summer of Science program at Mass Maritime. EarthView will be open to the public, along with a lot of other great exhibits, from 1 to 3 pm.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

CONNECT Summer of Science -- Friday July 9

41°44'20"N 
70°37'27"W
RADM Maurice Bresnahan, Jr. Hall
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts

EarthView will be part of  the CONNECT Summer of Science program on Friday, July 9. The Event showcases Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) education experiences for K-12 and the importance of science education.

On Friday July 9, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, students, families, educators, and science buffs of all ages are invited to experience the kick-off of this year’s Summer of Science. Enjoy some ice cream, enter to win tuition waivers and discounts, and see some of the cool science and technology programs first-hand -- including EarthView!

All are welcome. Please let CONNECT know if you are planning on coming by email to kathleen.kirby@connectsemass.org.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shipwrecks of Boston Harbor

The EarthView Team salutes Victoria Stevens of the Hull Lifesaving Museum for creating a wonderful online resource for geographic education. The online map of historic Boston shipwrecks complements the museum's rich collection of artifacts and exhibits related to the heroic life-saving efforts along New England shores.


The online exhibit allows students to find information about 75 of the shipwrecks that lie beneath the waters of Boston Harbor. Students can use the map to look for patterns, such as the clustering of wrecks in certain areas or where wrecks were more common in particular time periods.

The creation of the website is described in today's Boston Globe, along with some discussion of the changes that eventually made navigation of the harbor much less hazardous.

We encourage our EarthView students to visit the museum -- online and in Hull!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Quabbin

The story of the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts is rich in geographic questions. Rural towns were sacrificed to allow a city to continue growing. Ample water is piped daily from an area of surplus to an area of chronic water shortages (the amounts of rain are not that different, but the density of population certainly is). Some land was lost, while other land was protected.

On the occasion of the 64th anniversary of the filling of the Quabbin Reservoir, EarthView team member posted this remembrance on his environmental geography blog.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Beyond Earth

EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan recently went with his family to the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC and found it full of geography lessons! This museum is free and open to the public -- part of British scientist James Smithson's immense gift to the United States (which he had never visited).

This particular part of the Smithsonian Institution is valuable for geographers in two main ways. First, aviation and aerospace technologies have greatly increased the ability of humans to explore and observe planet Earth. People now routinely travel distances in a single day that once required months, years, or even generations to traverse. Air travel makes the human connection between places much stronger than they once were -- even for people who never get on an airplane themselves. Additionally, aerial photography and satellite imagery have greatly improved our ability to map the planet.

Just as important, however, is the lessons about our own planet that can be learned from studying and exploring others. The poster shown below is one of many that makes comparisons between Earth and other planets. The online exhibition Exploring the Planets is a good place to learn more.