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Teacher Edition

Week of September 25, 2011

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Monday

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Today was another amazing Uncle GT day! Geo and I got a letter (and airline tickets) from our Uncle Globetracker (we call him Uncle GT). Geo and I are being sent on a top-secret mission – and our first stop is Uncle GT’s office in Washington, D.C.!! There we will find out more. The letter doesn’t tell us much, but it certainly has us curious. See if you can figure it out! Our missions for Uncle GT are the most exciting trips ever!

We leave Phoenix first thing tomorrow morning. I sure hope it is cooler in our nation’s capital. (D.C. is the United States capital, if you didn’t know). I wonder if we will see the president. Today it was so hot out – over 100 degrees – Fahrenheit --, a bit warmer than our typical fall weather. It was too unbearable to even go outside. Did you know that Phoenix has the hottest climate of any large US city? I wonder how many people have to live in a city to determine it as a “large” US city. What do you think? Arizona has an arid climate, VERY hot summers (and sometimes into fall), and temperate winters. An arid climate is a dry climate that does not receive much rainfall. And temperate winters just means that they are mild and not extremely cold.

Holy Idaho! I am so excited about this mission. Here is the note we received with our airline tickets:

Dear Geo and Meri,

How are my favorite niece and nephew? Your Uncle Globetracker has a new assignment for you two. If you are interested, I need you to report to Washington, D.C. tomorrow morning. Come to my building immediately (don’t worry you will have time to visit your favorite museums AFTER our meeting).

Please do not tell anyone about this mission (especially little Pandora – we know how hard it is for her to keep a secret). Don’t worry; I have already talked to your high school and parents. The school has given you permission to study under my supervision for a while, especially since you are so far ahead with your work. However, the school is requiring you to keep a detailed journal of the journey. The journal must include pictures from the places that you visit. So start keeping accurate records immediately.

You will be under my care and protection throughout this journey. They are all aware that you may be gone for a week, month or even longer. The government really needs your help. Get ready for a unique adventure. I have included a map so you can see the distance you will be traveling. Here is a clue about the mission: Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map. Are you curious yet?

Love, Uncle GT

Wow, I can’t wait to find out about this new adventure. I wonder what the clue means. I hope I can get some sleep tonight. Geo and I sat down and looked at the political map Uncle GT sent us that shows the states and major cities in North America. There are maps for all sorts of things – the climate, natural resources, physical maps that show mountains, rivers and lakes, and many other types of maps. Take a look at the map I linked below.

Geo and I finally found Phoenix and Washington, D.C. on the map. Can you find them? The first thing Geo and I wanted to figure out was the cardinal direction we would be traveling. When we look at the locations on the map, DC is above Phoenix. So we are heading upwards on the map – which means we are heading north. But we are also heading to the right. If up is north, then heading to the right, you are traveling east. So that means that Washington, D.C. is northeast of Phoenix.

Geo and I also wanted to figure out how far D.C. is from Phoenix. Thankfully we found a map with a scale . Geo and I estimated that Washington, D.C. is close to 2,000 or even 2,500 miles way. Holy Idaho! That is a long trip! I am glad that we are flying and not driving. We would have to drive for a few days to travel that many miles.

Now we just have to make sure our annoying little sister, Pandora, doesn’t find out! Pandora is younger than we are – just 13 -- and always causes trouble for us. One time she secretly followed us on a mission for Uncle GT! Of course it was our fault (according to my parents) for allowing Pandora to read our journal. If she finds out we are heading to D.C., who knows what she might do to mess up this mission. We need your advice at the end of this post for how to trick her! Geo is going to update our blog later this evening. I posted a few pictures of our home state – enjoy!


     - Meri


The beautiful Arizona Desert


The famous Papago Park in Phoenix! Aren't the wildflowers beautiful?


The Sonoran Desert in Phoenix, Arizona

See the map

 

 

Political Map of the United States
Take a look at the political map. Can you find your home state (if you live in the USA)? Can you find any oceans bordering the United States? What symbol is used to signify the U.S. Capital?


Monday Night

Hello to all of our blog readers. I am looking forward to finding out what our mission is going to be! Tonight I wanted to share a little bit of information about my favorite location, Phoenix. We live in the fifth largest city in the USA (Phoenix, Arizona). It is also the state capital. In fact, Phoenix is the largest state capital in the entire United States! Our state nickname is the “Grand Canyon State.” I bet all of you can figure out why. We have been to the Grand Canyon a few times (amazing – see the pictures). If you want to learn more about the Grand Canyon , I also included a link. I love geology . It’s cool how different landforms are created. Phoenix (also called the “Valley of the Sun”) is generally flat. It is located in the Sonoran Desert, but surrounded on all sides by large mountains. Guess that is how we got our nickname, we are definitely in a valley . I pasted several pictures of the Grand Canyon and other landforms in and around Phoenix with this entry.

This plane trip will be cool because we will jump ahead in time. We are on Mountain standard time here. I am not sure where all of you are from, but here in Phoenix (and most of Arizona) we don’t observe daylight saving time. The Navaho Nation is one of the few areas in Arizona that does participate in Daylight Saving time. Since we don’t participate in Daylight Saving time, Washington, D.C. is two hours ahead of Phoenix right now. So if it is 1pm here, it is 3pm at Uncle GT’s office! Time zones fascinate me.

Meri (the motor-mouth, as I call her), told you about our exciting mission. It will definitely be an adventure and a lot more interesting than being at home with Pandora. We will update you as soon as we find out more.


     - Geo


Grand Canyon


Another picture of the Grand Canyon


Here is a picture of a cascading waterfall at the Grand Canyon National Park.

 


Vocabulary Terms:

arid - a way of describing a climate that is dry and does not receive much rainfall

cardinal direction - a term used to describe all four primary directions (north, south, east and west).

daylight saving - a way states and countries change their clocks in spring and fall to make better use of daylight. It moves an extra hour of daylight to afternoon during March to October. This helps people who work outside. Daylight saving time also conserves energy, moving activities into the daylight so we do not need to use lights. Not all places participate in daylight saving time.

geology - the study of the history of the planet Earth, its structure, and formation. Geologists study rocks and other materials that make up the planet Earth, both on the inside and on its surface.

Grand Canyon - a canyon located in the state of Arizona. It is a steep-sided gorge carved by the Colorado River. Most of the Grand Canyon is located in the Grand Canyon National Park, one of the first national parks in the United States.

Navaho Nation - the name given to the Native American people who inhabit large reservation lands in three US states: Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona. As a whole, the Navaho Nation is the most populous contemporary Native American groups in the United States. They are noted as skilled potters, weavers, and silversmiths.

political map - map that shows the governmental boundaries between states, provinces, countries, and other man-made divisions. Political maps often include locations of major cities (another man-made government), and typically large bodies of water.

scale - shows the relationship between the distance on a map and the corresponding distance on the earth. For example, 1 inch may equal 500 miles. This allows users to calculate the approximate distance between two locations on a map.

temperate - a climate that provides warm summers and mild winters. The temperatures do not typically get extremely hot or cold.

valley - lowland between mountains or hills

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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 relative location of, size of, and distances between places.

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

Grade 3-5: Understands how changing transportation and communication technology has affected relationships between locations. Ease of travel between some and difficulty getting to some others because of transportation and how people move and shop from one to the other because of the ease (trains, road systems, ferries, etc…).

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..).

Grade 6-8: Understands criteria that give a region identity (such as Amsterdam as a transportation center or the Sunbelt’s warm climate and popularity with retired people).

Understands that culture and experience influence people’s perceptions of places and regions.

Grade 6-8: Knows how places and regions serve as cultural symbols (Opera House in Sydney or Tower Bridge in London).

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).

Grade 3-5: Knows significant historical achievements of various cultures of the world (e.g., the Hanging Gardens or Babylon, the Taj Mahal in India, pyramids in Egypt, temples in ancient Greece, bridges and aqueducts in ancient Rome).

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).

Grade 6-8: Understands the symbolic importance of capital cities (such as Canberra, a planned city, as the capital of Australia).

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Standards used for developing and displayed within Globetracker’s Mission are Copyright © 1995 - 2007 McREL  (Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning) as part of their Compendium of PreK-12 Standards: Geography,
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