Geography Quest: Mountain Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Mountain Edition

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Is it warm yet where you live? We are still camped out in the 40s and 50s most days, but the milder weather is inevitable even in upstate NY. Time to get out and explore, hike, and enjoy the outdoors. How about some motivation? This week our focus is on the mountain ranges of the world in Geography Quest: Mountain Edition.

Identify the World’s Mountain Ranges

Can you name all the mountain ranges in the world? We can start big and go small.

  • List the mountain ranges you can think of by continent- go back and see if you missed any.
  • Name countries which have major mountain ranges.
  • Name the mountain ranges- can you make a list before you look them up?
  • List the mountains you’ve visited.
  • Tell which mountains you have hiked and/or summitted.

Map the World’s Mountain Ranges

You can choose the map you’d like for this activity. I might choose several map so you can see the results well.

  • Use a world map to show where mountains ranges are located.
  • Using your continent list, print a map of each continent and label the mountains with a triangle symbol.
  • Label the mountains on country maps using your list of countries as a resource. (after you check accuracy- of course!)
  • Look at where the mountain ranges are located. Is there relationship between where you find mountains and the earth’s geology? Can you explain it?

Fast Facts on Mountains

Now it’s time to see if you can locate these mountain facts. Ready?

  • Identify the tallest mountain range in the world. Any guesses?
  • What is the longest range of mountains?
  • What is the mountain/range with the lowest elevation?
  • Which mountains are the shortest- as in the size of the mountain “chain”?
  • Identify famous “through hikes” of mountain ranges. The east coast of the US has one. Are there others?
  • How are mountains made?
  • What is the ring of fire? Are there mountains nearby?
  • Which mountain is the most active volcano?
  • Find the mountains that separate Spain and France.
  • Can you find any mountains in the news right now?

What else would like to find out about mountains? Try making your own fast fact questions to ask your family.

Topographical Maps

Blog, She Wrote: Mountain Edition

Does your family enjoy hiking? Have you ever used a topographic map? Now is a great time to try one out. You can find one of your local area through the USGS website.

  • Locate a topographical map (topo map) of your area using the USGS site.
  • Interpret the symbols on the map. What do the concentric lines mean?
  • What does it mean when the lines are close together? Further apart?
  • Take a walk with your topo map- this might reveal what the lines mean as well!
  • Make your own topo map of your yard. If your yard doesn’t offer much variety in elevation, then try a nearby park or another familiar spot.
  • Use the topo map to mark places on your trail. We have a map of a few local trails which we use to make waypoints for navigating our way.

Mountains provide much beauty and reveal the fierceness our planet can experience both in form and function (ie the weather!). Take on this week’s Geography Quest and enjoy a mountain adventure!

Geography Quest: Great Lakes Ice Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Great Lakes Ice Edition

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Surely you haven’t experience this winter without seeing a headline about ice on the Great Lakes. They keeping vying for my attention. After all, how can you resist the beckoning of icey satellite images of some of the largest freshwater lakes in the world? It’s been a long, cold winter for the northeast and many parts of the midwest and even the south. And with extended cold weather comes the ice. Today’s Geography Quest focuses on how much of the Great Lakes (and other other nearby waterways) are frozen.

Do The Great Lakes Really Freeze Over?

As I was doing the research for this Quest, I found some really stunning video and satellite photography. This first one shows time lapse footage of the Great Lakes (especially Lake Superior) freezing this season.

  • Find out if the Great Lakes have frozen over and if so, how often does it happen?
  • When is the last time the lakes froze to the extent they are frozen right now?
  • Which ones freeze the most often and/or the fastest?
  • Are there any that don’t freeze?
  • What factors account for the differences in how the lakes freeze?

Does Niagara Falls Freeze Solid?

Just last week there was a news segment on folks making the trip to the falls to see them frozen solid. What do you think?

I’ve been to Niagara Falls in late April when the sun is bright and warm and watched ice the size of cars flow over the falls. With all the ice on the Great Lakes this year, I’m sure the falls will remain icy for longer than usual.

What are Ice Jams?

I didn’t learn about ice jams until I moved to NY. It stands to reason that all this ice has to go somewhere. Already this winter we’ve seen flooding in our community caused by ice jams. More awaits since many of the creeks and their tributaries are still frozen and it looks like we’re due for a frost.

The first video shows a Coast Guard boat tasked with breaking up the ice on Lake Michigan to get the shipping industry moving again after winter.

The next video explains what ice jams are and it shows the ice built up on the Illinois River. Ice jams cause flooding when the water cannot pass around them.

Make Your Own Ice Maps

Chart your own ice maps by doing these few things:

  • Grab a map of the Great Lakes Region. I like to enlarge maps using the poster feature in the Adobe printing for pdf documents.
  • Estimate the amount of ice cover for each lake and color in the amount cover. Make a key for your map.

Blog, She Wrote: Great Lakes Ice Edition

Long Term Effects of Great Lake Ice Cover

What can you find out about the long lasting effects of so much ice cover?

  • How long will it take the ice to melt?
  • With so much ice to melt, how will that affect the summer swimming season? Water has a high thermal mass and take a while to warm up even without lots of ice!
  • How will the shipping industry deal with the ice? Will ships be able to navigate through to the St. Lawrence Seaway?

This has been an extraordinary year for cold weather in the northeastern and midwestern United States. Enjoy a look at ice formation on the Great Lakes.

 

Weather Stations & Forecasting

Blog, She Wrote: Weather Stations & Forecasting

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We studied weather with our Nim’s Island unit and I thought this would be a great time to add to this long standing post and bring it up to date with resources and ideas. The kids and I had some meetings over a few days to discuss exactly what we wanted to measure, where, how and how often. We tried a weather station a few years ago that bombed out because of equipment failure. It was just not designed to go the distance as you’ll see below.

The next time we tried, we pieced together our weather station down at our mailbox and the kids ambitiously decided to record the weather three times a day! You’ll have to design a data chart to accommodate the vision that your kids have. We wanted to track it daily long term which is fun for math and science pursuits. As you track the weather, you can introduce forecasting and statistics over time. We even did a math lesson using the Beaufort Wind Scale and median statistics.

Keeping a Weather Calendar

 

  • For a glance at our former weather calendar- it evolved into a workable version using small pocket charts from the Target dollar aisle.
  • There are many ways to keep a weather calendar. Many of you might have a weather observation during your morning time or circle time if you have one- displaying your weather observations is one option.
  • I prefer the notebook/data gathering method. Instead of each student keeping his own notebook of weather data, I like to have a common weather log where the kids record their observations for the day. The tricky part is finding the data chart that you want. I dislike trying to search for the perfect page for notebooking so I went to notebook paper a long time ago. Decide all the things you want to record and keep a log book handy.

 

Resources for Studying Weather from Preschool to High School

 

Book List for Weather Studies

It’s a long term science project to incorporate weather into our nature and unit studies throughout the year.

Explorental Offers a Weather Meter Rental

Explorental is a company which offers high quality equipment and materials for short term rentals to families. The Multi-Function Weather Meter can measure many of the measurements we’ve been tracking in a small hand held digital form. If you aren’t sure to begin with a weather station or you want to track weather in the short term, then try out this handheld digital weather meter from Explorental.

I think it’s fantastic Explorental is excited about getting big ticket items into the hands of families. What does your family want to explore together?

Blog, She Wrote: Explorental