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Teacher Edition

Week of February 18, 2018

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We stayed in Detroit ALL WEEKEND waiting to hear back from Louie. During the weekend we did learn a lot about the Great Plains. As we mentioned before, they stretch throughout ten states. The main landform of the Great Plains are prairies. Prairies are typically large, flat, rolling areas with grassland that is mainly treeless. This region stretches about 500 miles (or 800 kilometers) east to west. It also stretches an entire 2,000 miles (or 3,200 kilometers) from the north to the south. Holy Idaho! That is one enormous area! The prairies have a large amount of wildlife found in an undisturbed setting. Humans have converted some of the land into pastures and for other agricultural purposes. Do you know what agriculture is? The Great Plains and prairies sometime experience extended periods of drought. There are also extremely high winds in the region that have even caused huge dust storms. A dust storm is a windstorm that lifts up and blows around dust, sand, and even clouds. Holy Idaho! Can you imagine experiencing a storm of dust?

We know that Louie is in one of three states (Nebraska, Montana, or South Dakota). But we aren't sure exactly where, and that is a lot of land to explore! We FINALLY got a text message from Louie with map coordinates. It didn't say much else at all:

Text from Louie: 45 North 108 West

Take a look at the map below (the BEST map we could find) and try to figure out which state we need to fly to next! Remember Louie has to be in Nebraska, Montana, or South Dakota.

     - Meri

The Great Plains

Another beautiful picture of the Great Plains

The prairies of the Great Plains


Map of the USA with map coordinates
Take a look at this map and try to figure out which state we need to fly to next! Remember to check the lines of latitude and longitude. Be sure to click on the list to see the USA map.


Thank you to all of the geographical geniuses who helped us figure out where to go next. We are heading to Montana. In fact, we are going to the Great Plains Regional headquarters in Billings, Montana. Billings is actually the largest city in Montana, located in the south-central area of the state. Billings is the county seat of Yellowstone County. Billings is very close to Yellowstone National Park. I would love to have the opportunity to visit the park, but we need to stay focused on Louie right now. The city's great location (near the area where the Battle of Little Bighorn was fought, Yellowstone National Park, and Pompey's Pillar) draws many visitors, especially during the warmer months of the summer. Billings started out as a railroad town in 1882 (named after Frederick H. Billings). He was the president of Northern Pacific Railroad. Why do you suppose the railroad was important in 1882--important enough to build a town around it?

During our flight we learned an interesting fact. Did you know that the Great Plains are a large contributor to the wind power in the United States? Some cities in the Great Plains have used wind power to bring jobs to local residents, increase the town's declining population, make significant income, and create a clean and reusable form of energy. Why is the Great Plains a good place for this kind of energy?

     - Geo

A sign for Yellowstone National Park. No we didn't get to visit, but we did find some great photos!

Yellowstone National Park

A picture of bison found at Yellowstone National Park


We have been in Montana since yesterday. No new text messages, emails, or phone calls yet. We are at the exact coordinates that Louie provided. Do you think he has completed his research here and moved on to his vacation home in the "chain of islands?" What should we do next?

     - Meri

Mountain Lion (a picture we found, we didn't actually SEE it)!

Do you know what this picture shows?

Another picture we found of Yellowstone

Vocabulary Terms:

drought - a severe water shortage (very little rain).

dust storm - a windstorm that lifts up and blows around dust, sand, and even clouds.

dust storms - windstorms that lift up and blow around dust, sand, and even clouds.

Great Plains - a vast prairie region of the United States that includes parts of 10 states: Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Wyoming, Texas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Nebraska, and New Mexico.

map coordinates - numbers that provide the exact location of a specified country or other area. The coordinates provide the degrees of longitude and latitude. Coordinates help people locate specific areas on a map.

prairies - large, flat, rolling areas with grassland that is mainly treeless.

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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 3-5: Uses map grids (e.g., latitude and longitude or alphanumeric system) to plot absolute location.

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 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 concept of regions.

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).

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).

Understands how physical systems affect human systems.

Grade 3-5: Knows how communities benefit from the physical environment (e.g., people make their living by farming on fertile land, fishing in local water, working in mines; the community is a port located on a natural harbor, a tourist center located in a scenic or historic area, an industrial center with good access to natural resources).

Grade 3-5: Knows natural hazards that occur in the physical environment (floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc..).

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