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

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Teachers of Teachers

EarthView Team: Dr. Vernon Domingo, Natalie "EarthView Wrangler" Regan,
 Rosalie "Globe Lady" Sokol, Dr. James Hayes-Bohanan
The photograph taken above is from the farewell dinner marking the end of EarthView's third year and the graduation of Natalie Regan, who served as EarthView's "Wrangler" from the program's inception. Most school visits over the past three years -- reaching close to 30,000 students in small groups -- have involved all four members of the team, and the rest of the team will miss the student worker whose dedication, creativity, and strong sense of organization has made everything possible. Upon graduation, she is pursuing opportunities to apply her geography education, mainly in the areas of regional planning and transportation.

The rest of the team brings the better part of a century of teaching experience to the program, and all of us are involved in various ways in the teaching and development of geography teachers. The "Globe Lady" Rosalie Sokol began her career as a middle-school French teacher, and switched to geography after completing an intensive training program sponsored by National Geographic in the 1980s. She retired from full-time teaching in Tantasqua Regional Middle School just as the EarthView program was getting started, and so continues to connect with students of all ages.

Dr. Vernon Domingo previously taught geography at the high school level in his home country of South Africa before coming to the United States for graduate school. He has taught in the Department of Geography at Bridgewater State University (formerly College) for 24 years. About a decade ago, he began teaching a course for future teachers, entitled Geography Methods and Materials, in which he draws on his extensive knowledge of the many tools -- conventional and digital -- available for the teaching of geography.

James "Dr. Java" Hayes-Bohanan began teaching geography as a graduate student in 1986, and became a full-time faculty member at BSU in 1997. When the department modified its program for future educators in 2005, he began teaching a course entitled "Geography Frameworks," based on the national benchmarks that have been established for geography educators at various grade levels. Students completing this course learn to apply those standards to a wide

BSU students majoring in elementary education, special education, or early childhood education must also complete a major in the liberal arts, and those who do so in geography complete both of these courses. They are also available to students pursuing the minor in secondary education, but those students are prohibited from majoring in geography, so very few of them complete these courses.

In addition to the students we reach directly through EarthView programs and university courses, members of the EarthView team are actively involved in workshops and institutes for in-service teachers -- both those already trained in geography and those who are teaching geography content but do not have geography licensure.

Update: The team gathered again in September, at the joyous occasion of Natalie's wedding. Her charming groom joined the team just for the photo op!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Kermadec Quake

29.312°S, 176.204°W
(Note decimal degrees; see lat/long article for information about conversion. How many degrees is this from your school?)

Orange, yellow, and green are closer to surface;
blue and violet are deeper than 150km
see map page for more details and views
Thanks to our local paper, the Brockton Enterprise, for letting us know about the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck the very remote Kermadec Islands earlier today (although it was already "tomorrow" where the quake occurred, just a few degrees east of the International Date Line. (The Globe and Mail provides just a few more details.)

The remote outpost of New Zealand houses only a weather station (currently 67 degrees F with a light breeze) and a hostel for visiting scientists. It is almost 1,000 kilometers south of Tonga, the nearest "major" island and almost 1,200 kilometers northeast of Auckland. The earthquake is remote even from these islands, with Raoul Island, the nearest, over 100 kilometers away. (See EarthView blog posts about another remote New Zealand island, Tokelau.)

The quake occurred 44 kilometers below the surface, which leads the USGS tentatively to conclude that is is located in a normal fault within the downward-moving Pacific plate.

The map at right is among several interesting depictions of seismic activity in this remote area. It indicates that the area is seismically quite active, with thousands of mostly small events over the past twenty years. Although the depth of each event can vary according to many factors, in subduction zones of this kind, the tendency -- well-illustrated here -- is for shallow events to cluster near the fault line, with depth increasing with distance away from the advancing plate (in this case, westward as the denser Pacific Plate advances under the Australian Plate).

As with any major quake in a marine environment, tsunamis are a possibility, and in this case it appears that a 2.2-foot wave was the highest generated by the event.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pan-American Highway Tour

Geographers love transects, and we have shared several interesting examples with our EarthView audiences in the past couple years. A really quick one is taking place right now, as a three-person team is driving a single automobile along the entire 16,000-mile route of the Pan-American Highway.

Knowing that they started in Argentina and will follow a west-coast route all the way to Alaska, see if you can identify all the countries and major cities they will visit before checking the TDI-Panamericana web site to learn all the details.

This trek involves three drivers, 16,000 miles, 14 days, and a 2011 Volkswagen. EarthView team member Dr. Hayes-Bohanan did something almost as crazy in 1985, involving two drivers (both geographers), 8,500 miles, 17 days, and a 1960 Volkswagen. Our top speed was 62 miles per hour, and we visited only two countries: about half of the states in the U.S. plus Baja California. It was the start of what eventually became the County Map Project.