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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rumney Marsh Art

The EarthView team very much enjoyed our visit to the Rumney Marsh Academy in May, where we found a school full of enthusiastic geography teachers and learners. We were delighted to receive a series of wonderful posters created by RMA students, who apparently were quite inspired by the EarthView experience! We will treasure them all, and decided to share just one example here on the blog.

Click to enlarge!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Neither Niña nor Niño

The past six months or so have been punctuated by a series of extreme weather events in North America, from strong winter storms to rapid snow melt to tornadoes of unusual intensity, most recently in Massachusetts, far from their typical range.

Often such anomalies are ascribed to El Niño events -- accumulations of unusually warm water in the equatorial Pacific the prior December -- or La Niña, the opposite. According to NASA Science News, however, the 2011 events seem to result from an unusually free-wheeling jet stream, which in turn results from "La Nada" -- a lack of a strong Pacific temperature signal in either direction.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Not Just French

The woman on the map below is not just French ... she's France!

It is one of several maps in the form of people, plants, or animals included in Maps Come Alive on the Streets of Salem blog.

Phil Cambell

"Who is Phil Campbell?" That is a simple question with many answers, and an even better question is "Where is Phil Campbell?" The answer to that is northwest Alabama, more precisely at 34°21′N; 87°42′W.

And for the next few days, the question is "Where are the Phil Campbells?" To which the answer is "Phil Campbell." Got it?

Phil Campbell -- one of them, anyway -- was a railroad builder from England who was leading work crews in northwestern Alabama in the 1880s. A local business leader asked him to build a side track and depot, offering to name the town for him if he did so. The result is that Phil Campbell is the only town in Alabama to bear both the first and last name of an individual.

I first heard of the town of Phil Cambpell in 1995, when New York writer Phil Campbell organized a convention of 22 people named Phil Campbell in the town. Phil Campbell -- the writer and the town -- are in the news again this week.

In April of this year, the town of Phil Campbell experienced a devastating tornado as part of the 2011 Super Outbreak. At that time, the writer Phil Campbell and others were already planning another convention to take place in June. As reported on NPR Thursday, the Phil Cambells -- this time coming from all over the world -- have transformed their celebration into a relief effort.

The "I'm With Phil" project is restoring hope to a town some thought might need to be abandoned. It is amazing what these eighteen men (at least one Phyllis was planning to attend but is not in good health) are doing, united by nothing more than compassion, a sense of humor, and an unusual toponym.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Granite Valley Middle School in Monson -- June 17

42° 06' 35" N
72° 19' 11" W

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The EarthView team will mark the end of our third year -- and the departure of our graduating EarthView Wrangler -- at Granite Valley Middle School in the town of Monson. This will be our westernmost appearance this year, though we were only a few arc-minutes east of Monson when we visited Sturbridge at the beginning of this week.

As many people in our region now know, it was just two weeks ago that the town of Monson was among the  communities that suffered the most devastating property damage during the June 1 outbreak of tornadoes in western and central Massachusetts. Tragically, several lives were lost in the Springfield area, but good forecasting, communication, and cooperation prevented the human impact from being much greater. 

Click to Enlarge
View original and commentary at EarthSky
The impact of losing so many homes and public buildings, however, is quite serious. The Monson Public Schools have been an integral part of the effort to bring the community together around the recovery effort

Tornadoes occur rarely in Massachusetts, so when we were teaching EarthView audiences about the geography of tornadoes in April, we had no idea the subject would soon be so close to home. As reported on the EarthSky blog, NASA Landsat images reveal the scope of the damage, as a single path of heavy damage extends for a length of 39 miles, with a width up to a half mile.

For centuries, the physical geography of Monson has influenced its history. Located in a region of abundant rainfall and high topographic relief (range of elevation), Monson was an ideal location for industry during the age of water power. As early as the late 1600s, mills in Monson produced a variety of products, ranging from lumber and woolens to hats and rifle barrels. Below the surface, local granite has been sufficient for the construction of many public buildings in town, with enough leftover for use throughout the Northeast.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tantasqua Regional Jr. H.S. -- June 13

42° 09' 24" N
72° 07' 44" W

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The EarthView team is delighted to be visiting Tantasqua Regional Junior High School in historic Sturbridge. As students there know, this is the school where the famous Globe Lady worked as a geography teacher before retiring and joining our team! EarthView has been to Tantasqua only once before, in 2008.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Weymouth -- June 3

Abigail Adams Middle School
42° 13' 21" N
70° 56' 21" W
Academy Avenue Primary School
42° 13' 15" N
70° 56' 33" W

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The EarthView team enjoyed a day in Weymouth -- a town located about halfway between our home base and Boston. We set up EarthView at Abigail Adams Middle School, to provide programs to students from the Academy Avenue Primary School, who walked a few hundred yards to participate. The coordinates posted above -- based on the official address of each school -- can be used to determine the arc length the students covered.

We were delighted to have as special guests for the day Rep. James M. Murphy, who represents Weymouth in the Massachusetts Legislature, and his staff members, including an intern recently arrived from Ireland! Rep. Murphy and his staff exuded great enthusiasm for geography education. More importantly, so too did the students, teachers, and staff of the two schools. The enthusiasm for EarthView and geography was high throughout the day, and the students showed that they had been learning their geography concepts quite well!

We look forward to returning to Abigail Adams to do some more geography education with students, teachers, and Principle Dan Birolini, a former geography teacher who once took a course on the Geography of Africa with EarthView' team member Dr. Domingo!