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Teacher Edition

Week of April 1, 2012

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OK, what do waterfalls, the Sierras, half dome, and beautiful hiking all have in common? Holy Idaho! The common ground is the place where we are this week. We aren’t going to tell you exactly WHERE we are yet. Let’s see if you can figure it out on your own. Here is a final clue: we are visiting a famous National Park. Why don’t you take a minute to investigate the clues and see if you can figure it out on your own. We have included a map of the Sierras to help you.

Over the weekend we received a lengthy email from Louie. It was rather shocking so we pasted it below. Wait until you read what happened. Holy Idaho!

Email from Louie:

Geo and Meri, I am so sorry if I have been confusing you for the past few weeks. It is a crazy story. I was in Seattle on the subway. The train must have jerked suddenly, and I banged my head pretty hard. It actually knocked me out. I now remember people waking me up and making sure I was OK. I guess they thought I was fine because I could remember my name was Louie. But once I got off of the subway, I had no idea where I was. I remember going to a fish market and even thinking it was Mardi Gras!

I am afraid there are two men following me now. I am not sure if they are safe or not, so I am not using my cell phone. I am afraid that they might have tapped my phone somehow and are watching where I am and who I call/text. I am now in the eastern central part of California hiking in a beautiful national park. I am going to take a few days to relax and recover from my head trauma and memory loss. I was checked out by the local doctor and all seems fine now. This park has limited Wi-Fi and very little cell reception, so I thought this was the perfect location to recuperate. I will email you in a few days and we can meet up. I am sorry I have been so difficult. I am ready to help you out now that I realize YOU are not the dangerous ones. If anyone contacts you regarding my whereabouts, please don’t tell them anything. I am still not sure who those two men were following me around in Seattle and New Orleans. I am not sure if they followed me here or not. Thanks, Louie

Holy Idaho! See what I mean - - crazy story! He really did loose his memory for a while. OK, now it is your turn. Take a look at the map and try to figure out what national park we are visiting. Remember we are in the Sierras in the east central part of California. There are waterfalls, half domes, and lots of hiking. Good luck!

     - Meri

Clue 1 - The beautiful waterfalls!

Clue 2 - The amazing hiking!

Clue 3 - Half Dome



Physical Map of California
Take a look at this map to try to figure out where we are! It is a national park.... very close to Stockton. Good luck!

Tuesday Afternoon

So Meri decided not to tell you where we were. She loves to tease people. Did you figure it out? Yes, we are at Yosemite National Park, and it is amazing. I can see why Louie came here to recover. Can you believe he had head trauma from the subway!

Meri is sulking a bit right now because the half dome cable cars aren’t installed yet. They help to lift you (sort of like a ski lift or gondola) up the half dome . They don’t get installed until closer to Memorial Day. Oh well, we can still hike around this beautiful area, as long as we avoid the snow!

We already told you that Yosemite National Park is located in the east central part of California. It is near California’s border with the state of Nevada. The park is over 750,000 acres! It is located in the Sierras (more formally known as the Sierra Nevada mountains). Over 3 million people visit this park each year. Yosemite is famous throughout the world for its beautiful waterfalls, clear streams, granite cliffs, and the many plants and animals found here.

This is interesting (and a bit confusing), but nearly all of the landforms at Yosemite are cut from the granite rock of the Sierra Nevada batholith . Batholith is an igneous rock that is formed deep below the ground’s surface.

This area has a Mediterranean climate . This means that most precipitation occurs during the winter months. Other months of the year are nearly dry. Winter is mild. Summer is long and hot. Precipitation amounts increase with elevation (up to 8,000 feet) because of orographic lift . Precipitation varies from 36 inches at 4,000 feet up to 50 inches at 8,000 feet. The higher elevations experience snow throughout the winter until March or even early April! The highest elevations in Yosemite are over 13,000 feet! We haven’t seen any snow yet while we have been here, but we haven’t hiked up to the higher elevations. Speaking of hiking, Yosemite offers over 800 miles of trails to hikers! I am sure we won’t have time to hike too much, but what we have seen so far has been great, though a bit muddy from the spring thaws.

Some of the beautiful landscape include meadows , alpine woodlands, groves of sequoia, pine, fir, and more. There are also over 250 species of vertebrates found at Yosemite. There are Mule deer, Mountain Kindsnakes, Spotted Owls, Gilbert’s Skinks, Bobcats, American Black Bears, and more! Thankfully we haven’t encountered any bears – yet! The park rangers tell a LOT of bear stories!

     - Geo

Yosemite National Park

A picture we found of winter at Yosemite National Park.

As far as we hiked today - elevation of 4,000 feet



Well, it has been nearly 4 days since Louie emailed us, and we haven’t heard anything since. We are going to wait one more day yet and then email him back. He sounded sincere in his email, so we aren’t worried yet. Once we hear from Louie and find out where we are meeting him, Uncle GT is going to fly out and join us. I can’t believe this mission might actually be coming close to an end! If Louie actually shows up, he can help out Uncle GT, and we will be sent back to Phoenix. Remember that Louie doesn’t realize we are at Yosemite. We haven’t seen him out hiking at all. But this is a HUGE place. So it would be hard to find anyone. We are going to go visit another major city in California while we wait to hear from Louie. We just can’t decide where to go. Holy Idaho! What do you think? Should we go to San Jose, San Diego, or Los Angeles?

     - Meri

A picture of the beach at San Jose

Downtown San Diego at night!

Beautiful Los Angeles



Maps of California
Take a look at the various types of maps of California. What all types of maps do you see? If you scroll down, you will find some that show where San Jose, San Diego, and Los Angeles are located. Which one is closest to Yosemite National Park? About how many miles away is the furthest city from Yosemite?

Vocabulary Terms:

batholith - an igneous rock that is formed deep below the ground’s surface.

half dome - a granite dome in Yosemite National Park that rises more than 4,737 feet above the valley floor.

meadows - fields where grass or alfalfa are grown to be made into hay.

Mediterranean climate - a climate that has the most precipitation occur during the winter months. Other months of the year are nearly dry. Winter is mild. Summer is long and hot.

orographic lift - when elevated terrain, such as mountains, acts as a barrier to the flow of air. When the air ascends (or goes up) a mountain slope it gets cooler. When it cools, that causes clouds and precipitation. At the same time warm air is rising from the plains. When the cold air and warm air meet, the atmosphere becomes unstable and thunderstorms occur.

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Standards for this episode:

Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographical tools and technologies.

Grade 3-5: Knows the basic elements of maps and globes (title, legend, cardinal, scale, grid, meridians, time zones, etc..).

Grade 6-8: Understands concepts such as axis, seasons, rotation, and revolution.

Knows the location of places, geographical features, and patterns of the environment.

Grade 3-5: Knows major physical and human features of places as they are represented on maps and globes. Knows how to read different maps: road, relief, globe, etc..

Grade 3-5: Knows the location of major cities in North America.

Grade 3-5: Knows the approximate location of major continents, mountain ranges, and bodies of water on Earth.

Grade 6-8: Knows the location of physical and human features on maps and globes (e.g., culture hearths such as Mesopotamia, Huang Ho, the Yucatan Peninsula, the Nile Valley; major ocean currents; wind patterns; land forms; climate regions).

Grade 6-8: Knows the relative location of, size of, and distances between places.

Understands the characteristics and uses of spatial organization of Earth’s surface.

Grade 3-5: Knows different methods to measure data (miles, kilometers, time, etc..).

Understands the physical and human characteristics of a place.

Grade 6-8: Knows the physical characteristics of places (soil, vegetation, wildlife, etc..).

Understands the concept of regions.

Grade 3-5: Knows the characteristics of a variety of regions (climate, housing, religion, language, etc..).

Knows the physical processes that shape patterns on Earth’s surfaces.

Grade 3-5: Knows the physical components of Earth’s atmosphere (weather and climate), lithosphere (land forms such as mountains), hydrosphere (oceans, lakes and rivers), and biosphere (vegetation and biomes).

Understands the characteristics of ecosystems on Earth’s surface.

Grade 3-5: Knows plants and animals associated with various vegetation and climatic region on Earth (i.e. kinds of plants and animals found in the rainforests of Africa).

Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth’s surface.

Grade 3-5: Knows how and why people divide Earth's surface into political and/or economic units (e.g., states in the United States and Mexico; provinces in Canada; countries in North and South America; countries linked in cooperative relationships, such as the European Union).

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