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Teacher Edition

Week of November 11, 2018

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Meri and I got a taxi yesterday at 3pm. The sun is coming up now and it is almost 6am. It has been a very long drive to Brasilia. At least now there is some light so I can update my blog. Of course I will have to wait until I am online to post this. We are in the beautiful country of Brazil. This country is seriously huge - check out the map below.

I have been researching why this map has so many lines running up and down and across, and Meri finally explained it to me. Here is the lowdown on these lines. The lines that run up and down the map (north and south) are called longitude lines. These lines are used to measure degrees east or west from the prime meridian. The prime meridian is located at 0 degrees longitude. This imaginary line runs up and down through France, Spain, Antaractica, western Africa, and the United Kingdom. The prime meridian divides the world into the eastern hemisphere and western hemisphere. (Hemisphere means half of a sphere). The lines that run across (east and west) a map are called latitude lines. Lines of latitude measure degrees via north or south. The equator is at 0 degrees latitude. This imaginary line marks halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole. The equator runs though parts of Asia, South America, and Africa. This imaginary line also divides the world into the southern hemisphere and northern hemisphere. Longitude and latitude are both used to measure distance in "degrees". I am still trying to think of way to tell the two kinds apart. Wow, Meri just taught me an easy way to remember the directions of the lines. Think of latitude as a "ladder" (kind of sounds similar). The steps of a ladder go up and down just like the lines of latitude go around the map. I put some pictures in my blog to better explain this confusing geography stuff. Both lines (latitude and longitude) start at 0. These lines are drawn only on maps and globes. So, don't expect to see an "equator line" on the streets and beaches of Brazil! I wonder how longitude and latitude help us -- or why they are even used? Meri explained that the purpose of longitude and latitude is to help identify your specific location on the earth's surface. Uncle GT also emailed me this neat picture of a globe/map (it really helped me to understand what all of those lines represent). See my pictures, below.

     - Geo

This picture shows the prime meridian, equator, eastern and western hemispheres, lines of latitude, and lines of longitude.

This picture shows the lines of latitude. Do you see the equator? The lines of latitude run across a map, but they measure degrees north and south from the equator. The lines of latitude are like the steps of a ladder on the globe.


South America Map
Check out this map of South America. Can you believe the size of Brazil? Look at how many rivers there are. Can you find the Amazon?


Sorry we didn't get to write more in yesterday's blog. When we finally got to the hotel, Geo and I went right to sleep. It is funny how bumping up and down in a car for over 12-hours can make someone so tired. Holy Idaho! You are not going to believe this - but down here in Brazil it is summer. Yup, you heard me right. It is November back home (and getting cold in the USA) - but here it is summer. I never heard of this, but a local from Brazil explained to me that the part of the earth south of the equator (in the southern hemisphere) has opposite seasons from the northern hemisphere. So when it is cold and snowy in New York City, it is warm and sunny in Brasilia - amazing! The seasons are caused by the Earth's axis being tilted. So during any given time, one part of the planet is more directly exposed to the rays of the sun (thus causing summer). The schools are closing in a few weeks for the summer (from December through mid-February). Holy Idaho!

Uncle GT called today and told us to "hang tight" in Brazil. He hadn't heard any updates about Dewey, the truth-sniffing dog. We are to keep our cell phone with us at all times and take some time to explore this huge country. Geo and I are taking a helicopter to the Amazon Rainforest in about an hour. I can't wait to go explore the rainforest. Our trip includes a canopy tour. Do you know what that is? A canopy tour takes you through the rainforest via steel cables and platforms. We are going to be kind of like Tarzan gliding through the rainforest. The steel cables and platforms are installed on trees between 10-20 meters from the ground (that would equal 30-60 feet). Holy Idaho! I can't wait to get gliding. Geo is excited too. We will be gone all day - so we will write more tomorrow. We just received a text message from our little sister, Pandora.

Text from Pandora: WAYN? RUOK?

Text to Pandora: ABT2 go on canopy tour in Amazon. In btfl C-T in Brazil

     - Meri


During our short flight into the Amazon yesterday, our tour guide taught us some fascinating information about Brazil. Did you know that Brazil was the largest (and most populated) country in South America? Brazil is divided into 5 regions (North, South, Sortheast, Northeast, and Central-West). Brazil has twenty-six states (they call them estados), one federal district (called a Distrito Federal), and 5,564 municipalities. The tour guide told us that both the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn run through Brazil. I wonder what the Tropic of Capricorn is? This country truly has a little of everything - rainforests, beaches, enormous rivers, humongous cities, and more! What an amazing destination.

The Amazon canopy tour was the most thrilling experience of my entire life. Meri was a bit nervous to get started, but once she got going - she loved it too! I pasted some pictures of the Amazon rainforest below. I also pasted a picture of another tourist on a canopy tour (this is the person who went after Meri).

Tonight we received an odd text message from an unknown caller:

Text Message from unknown number: J2LYK - We R NW of Brasilia. We R in a country located in the N and S hemispheres. Capital c-t begins with a B. Dewey is here - where could we be?

In the words of Meri, "Holy Idaho". Take a look at the map and see if you can figure out where we should go next? The country is in the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere, so that must mean that the equator runs through the country. The capital city begins with a B? And they are northwest of Brasilia. Should we travel to the capital of Chile, Colombia, or Ecuador? Take a look at the map and help us out!

     - Geo

Here is a Jaguar we saw on our tour (we took this picture from a safe distance - don't worry). The main population of Jaguars live in the Orinoco Basin of Venezuela. Everywhere else that Jaguars are found in the world, they are endangered.

This is a picture of the Amazon River.

Here is another tourist on the canopy tour - it was so cool!


Map of South America
The country is in the northern and southern hemispheres, so that must mean that the equator runs through the country. The capital city begins with a B. And they are northwest of Brasilia. Can you figure out where we should go next?

Vocabulary Terms:

equator - an imaginary line on the earth's surface that is positioned halfway between the north pole and the south pole. The equator divides the earth into the northern hemisphere and the southern hemisphere.

hemisphere - half of a sphere.

latitude - the lines that run across (east and west) a map. Lines of latitude measure degrees via north or south. The equator is at 0 degrees latitude.

longitude - lines that run up and down the map (north and south). These lines are used to measure degrees east or west from the prime meridian. The prime meridian is located at 0 degrees longitude.

northern hemisphere - the half of the planet Earth that is north of the equator. The northern hemisphere contains 90% of the human population and most of the land on the Earth.

prime meridian - the imaginary line that runs up and down a map or globe. It is found at 0 degrees longitude. This imaginary line runs vertically through the United Kingdom, France, Spain, western Africa, and Antarctica. The prime meridian divides the world into the eastern hemisphere and western hemisphere.

southern hemisphere - the half of the planet Earth that is south of the equator. The southern hemisphere contains all of Antarctica and Australia, most of South America, and part of Asia and Africa.

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Additional Web Resources:

World Atlas
This website provides maps and information about the landforms of South America.

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.

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 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 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).

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

Grade 3-5: Knows how Earth's position relative to the Sun affects events and conditions on Earth.

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 nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.

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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