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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Salem to Mongolia

During our recent visit to the Rumney Marsh Academy in Revere, the EarthView team was pleased to meet science teacher Andrea Aeschlimann, who is about to embark on a remarkable humanitarian -- and geographic -- project. In the Salem to Mongolia project, she and a partner will deliver a wheelchair van to a community in Ulaanbataar, Mongolia.  As the map above suggests, the van will be sent by ship to London, and then driven the rest of the way, forming a transect of most of Eurasia. The trip is a chance to do some good and to learn a lot of geography on the way!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Quabbin Middle School

42° 24' 07" N
72° 06' 47" W
Learn more about Lat/Long

For the third year in a row, EarthView will be at the Quabbin Regional School in Barre, where geography teacher Erin Stevens organizes an annual sleep-over for seventh graders. During the first four hours of the event, participants take turns visiting EarthView, among other fun programs throughout the building.

The regional school is named for the Quabbin Reservoir, which famously eliminated four towns in order to provide water to Boston.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Rumney Marsh Academy, Revere: May 20

42º 24' 47" N
71º 00' 12" W

Learn more about Lat/Long

The Rumney Marsh Academy is located in Revere, a city of just under 6 square miles and just over 42,000 residents located on Cape Cod Bay just a few miles to the north of Boston's Logan Airport. The historic city of Revere is the birthplace of noted American author Horatio Alger

The Rumney Marsh Academy is located on American Legion Parkway, less than a mile from the important wetland for which it is named. The Rumney Marsh is the largest wetland area on the north side of Boston. Coastal environments can change quite rapidly, especially where human settlements are close to the coastal environment. In the case of the Rumney Marsh, however, its general shape is roughly the same as it was over a century ago, according to the 1891 map shown below.

According to the Rumney Marsh Information Page hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, glaciers were involved in the formation of Rumney Marsh in three ways. First, a glacier deposited the sand that forms Revere Beach, separating the Marsh from the Atlantic Ocean and diverting the lower stretch of the Saugus River a bit northward. Second, outwash from melting glaciers carried much of the silt that forms the marsh. Finally, when glaciers retreated throughout the Northern Hemisphere about 10,000 years ago, sea levels rose throughout the world, in this case raising the ocean to just the right level for sediments in the Saugus River to be trapped in Rumney Marsh.

Learn more about the Rumney Marsh and its ecological importance from the Rumney Marsh Reservation page and from the page that identifies the marsh as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). The Rumney Marsh is a good place to see the influence (no pun intended) of tides.

Source: 1891 Sanborn Map

Where is the Center?

One of our BSU geography students recently shared a story about the placement of a monument in Missouri that marks the population centroid of the United States. The story is told on EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan's Environmental Geography blog, in an article called Plato at the Center.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tide's Up!

Blondie's 1980 hit The Tide is High may no longer be as popular as it once was, but the EarthView team was still surprised to learn that many university students are not aware of what real tides are.

Cape Cod Low Tide
Tides are regular fluctuations in the water level of oceans that result from the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon. Water levels typically rise and fall twice each day, with the difference between high and low tide ranging from a half meter in some locations to as many at 15 meters in the extreme case of the Bay of Fundy. Typical ranges are on the order of a meter or two. Learn all about tides from the Tides and Water Levels page at NOAA's Ocean Service. See NOAA's ocean education page for many more tutorials, games, and lesson plans about the oceans.

High and low tides do not arrive at the same time each day, nor do they arrive at all coastal locations at the same time. Even places that are very close together can experience tides at very different times because of the shape of the coastal environment. The timing of tides is very predictable, though, so newspapers in coastal areas usually publish expected high and low tides for several days at a time. The web site Salt Water Tides allows internet users to look up tidal charts for many U.S. locations up to one year in advance. These charts are reliable for the timing of tides, but the magnitude of high and low tides can be affected by many other factors at a local or regional scale.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Return to Wakefield -- May 13

Woodville School (where we are presenting EarthView)
42º 29' 53" N
71º 03' 04" W

Walton School (which sent second-grade classes on a but to see EarthView at Woodville)

42º 30' 23" N
71º 05' 15" W

Wakefield High School (which is sending an oceanography/astronomy field trip to EarthView)

42º 29' 46" N
71º 03' 07" W

Learn more about Lat/Long

Note: two the schools are at adjacent addresses on Farm Street in Wakefield. The are only a few arc-seconds apart, in both latitude and longitude. Compare this distance to the distance from Farm Street to the Walton School on Davidson Road.

View Larger Map

The EarthView team enjoyed giving first- and second-grade students from the Woodville and Walton Schools an unforgettable view of the earth! We were also able to building on the lessons Wakefield High School students have been learning about latitude and longitude (see link above), plate tectonics, and the formation of the earth. We also learned about GPS by having several high school students pretend to be satellites and a ground receiver.

All of the Wakefield schools we visited this year are doing a great job with geography -- students at all grade levels showed great interest in their world! The Walton School home page features the nifty geographic clip art shown at right!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Upcoming EarthView Visits

The following is a partial list of EarthView programs taking place in coming months (revised May 5, 2011). All town and city names are in Massachusetts, unless otherwise indicated. We are currently accepting requests for 2011-2012 reservations.  Please see the EarthView web site for requirements and contact information.

For both pedagogic and security reasons, participation at school programs is limited to the students themselves, unless prior arrangements are made for visitors. Certain EarthView events are open to the public, as indicated below.

Friday, May 6
St. Joseph Elementary, Needham

Friday, May 13

TBA Elementary, Wakefield

Friday, May 20

Thomas Carroll School, Peabody

Thursday, May 26

Quabbin Regional Middle School  (overnight)

Friday, June 3

Abigail Adams Middle, Weymouth

Friday, June 10

TBA North Shore

Thursday, June 16

Granite Valley Middle School, Monson

Friday, June 17

Tantasqua Jr. High School, Fiskdale

Wednesday, September 7 
Worcester State University
Theme Semester Kick-Off: Worcester in the World

Thursday & Friday, October 6 & 7

North Andover Middle School
EarthView programs by day; Geography night in between!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

St. Joseph Elementary, Needham: May 6

42º 16' 58" N
71º 14' 04" W

Learn more about Lat/Long

EarthView will be at St. Joseph Elementary School in Needham on May 6, and is delighted to have been mentioned in the "Looking Ahead" section of the Principal's Corner online!

The EarthView team was in Needham just about a year ago, at the Eliot School. Students can use the lat/long article above and our Eliot School blog post to determine the angular distances between the two schools. For example, which school is farther north, and by how many degrees, minutes, and seconds?
The history of Needham includes some interesting geography. As with many areas at a similar distance outside of Boston, its economy during early English settlement was almost entirely in agriculture, giving way first to tanning and lumbering. Imagine forestry as a significant industry 250 years ago, with cattle grazing over much of the unforested area, and those cattle supplying a noxious industry involved in the tanning of leather for shoe factories elsewhere in the region. A century later -- by the 1850s -- a knitting industry had emerged, owing in part to the migration of expert knitters from England. We say "in part," because it certainly appeared to those involved that the industry persisted in Needham just because certain skilled workers had come to the area. For geographers, though, this is not a final answer, but rather the beginning of questions: why did expert knitters move here, rather than some other location? Individual choice is often important, but so, too, are factors such as climate, available sources of energy, and available raw materials.

Moving forward another century, the economic geography of Needham was part of a dynamic area that many geographers have studied. The 128 Corridor, as it came to be known, far enough from Boston to have relatively less expensive land for the building of office parks (some of the nation's first) and small factories. It is close enough to Boston and Cambridge, however, to draw on the intellectual and technical expertise available at a variety of institutions, particularly the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard.

Team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan makes the journey from Bridgewater to Needham about once each month, to visit Trader Joe's, which is an interesting grocery store for a geographer to visit. In addition to a vaguely Polynesian decor, the store offers many lessons in the geography of food, as people come to the store seeking particular combinations of local, exotic, and healthy foods. It also includes a small but diverse section customers can explore the geography of coffee and tea

The store is also a very interesting example of economic geography. Not only does it manage to attract shoppers from a much wider range than most grocery stores, but the store's management also takes a very different approach to the economic geography of the inside of the store. In grocery stores, products compete for shelf space. Certain areas have higher value than others, based on proximity to the checkout lines, height relative to eye level (adult and child might be different), and other factors. All of this is true in Trader Joe's, but  the space is managed very differently. In a big store with a lot of shelves, it makes sense for some products to be offered in many sizes and varieties, just to take up space. Most stores let suppliers do this, so that a single category -- such as soft drinks, chips, or cereal -- can take up an entire aisle. Trader Joe's does something quite different: the shelving is limited, so its value (the "rent") is high, and each kind of product will be offered in relatively few varieties (compared to big stores, anyway) and very few sizes (usually only one).

Activity: When you visit grocery stores or other retail establishments, pay attention to the arrangement of products on shelves and racks. How can you tell which areas of the store have the highest value? The lowest? How do organizing strategies vary among stores?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Royal Wedding Geography

Photo: HappyLand Royal Wedding Set
Our most recent EarthView program coincided with rather a fancy wedding ceremony in London, as Prince William married his long-time girlfriend Catherine (Kate) Middleton. Not since William's parents married in 1981 has there been so much attention to a wedding ceremony. The significance of the event goes far beyond its importance for the happy couple, of course. The latest royal wedding is full of geographic implications and raises many interesting questions students can explore, starting with: Why is the couple now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge?

Two other geography blogs have described a number of geography lessons to be explored. "Millie the Geographer," writing on her What I Taught in Geography This Week blog, begins with several examples related to the geography of tourism. (Yes, tourism has a geography, and the Association of American Geographers even has a specialty group for its study!) The blog post goes on to include implications for retail sales and the importance of social media, which are also a growing area of geographic inquiry. Related to political geography, the blog discusses the relevance of the wedding to public opinion regarding the monarchy. Finally, the availability of "copycat" royal weddings in China is cited as an example of the cultural geography of Westernization.

In The Geography of the Royal Wedding, the Living Geography blog mentions some of the same themes, including the specific example of  retail impacts shown above. This blog also provides links to several geographic aspects of the wedding day itself, such as maps of the procession and weather at the time of the ceremony. It also includes a link to an interesting series of cartograms about the UK, which in turn helps to explain some of the often-confusing terminology related to the name of the country in which all of this is taking place.

The list of invited and attending guests has also been quite interesting. One gallery of royal wedding guests lists just a few of the "in" and "out" celebrities and dignitaries -- most notably President and First Lady Obama -- and provides some interesting details about their status. Several instructive geography activities could be built around a longer -- though still selective -- list of attendees from the wedding's official web site.

Using the various categories of guests in this list, consider the following options:

1. Using a detailed map of the United Kingdom, map as many of the "Members of the Royal Family" in attendance as possible. What parts of the UK are most represented? Least?

2. Using a map of the world, map the attendees who are members of monarchies outside of the UK. What current monarchies are missing?

3. The "Dignitaries" includes officials from other countries. How many of these are members of the Commonwealth (of current and former British colonies and territories)?

4. What religious sects and denominations are represented by the clergy and other religious leaders present? In what parts of the world are adherents of these religions found?