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Teacher Edition

Week of November 19, 2017

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Sunday Night

Well, if you guessed the Hoover Dam - you are correct! Louie's clue meant the Hoover Dam. We are staying at a hotel right outside of downtown Las Vegas. We just arrived tonight. The Hoover Dam is very closeby to Las Vegas. Holy Idaho! I am so excited to get out and explore in the morning!

It is amazing! Even though it is 10pm and dark outside - the city is all lit up. Las Vegas is the most populated city in Nevada. Las Vegas is known all around the world as a top tourist attraction offering casinos, wonderful entertainment, and family vacation fun. It is actually located in a desert - the Mohave Desert. Such a busy city right in the middle of a desert! Geo didn't understand how a big city could be built in the middle of a desert. I explained to him, it was all thanks to the Hoover Dam (see my picture of the Hoover Dam below). A dam is basically a wall that is built to hold back the water of a creek, stream, or river. The Hoover Dam holds back the Colorado River. A dam may also be used to generate hydroelectric power, for flood control, to provide a water supply to towns and cities, and even to create recreational areas or habitats for wildlife. The Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression (1931-1935) when people were desperate for work and were willing to travel to the canyon near Las Vegas to earn money for their families. These brave people faced extreme heat, choking dust, and dangerous heights - all so that electricity and water could be brought to millions of people across the southwest. Why do you think having a dam would make a city grow in the middle of a desert? I wonder if the Hoover Dam helped to create our great home city of Phoenix, too?

Louie is speaking at another energy conference here tomorrow. He surely does make a lot of speeches. I feel like we have been playing a big game of cat and mouse! Or shall I say "Cat and Louie," constantly missing Louie at each stop along the way. We did leave him a voicemail on his cell today (he didn't answer - as usual). Geo said:

Hello Louie, this is Geo. My sister and I have been trying to get into contact with you. We mean you no harm. Is there any way that we can meet up tomorrow after your speech at the conference center? We will plan to be there at 4pm. Please consider meeting us. Thank you

     - Meri

Downtown Las Vegas

Vegas in the dark

Welcome to Las Vegas


Map of Nevada
Check out this map of Las Vegas. What state is Las Vegas in? What states border Las Vegas? Can you tell that Las Vegas is located in a desert? If so, how?


Did you ever hear that saying that "nice guys finish last?" Well, today was one of those days. Meri and I explored Las Vegas and even visited the Hoover Dam today (see our pictures). The Hoover Dam was nothing like I had expected. We learned so many interesting facts about the dam. The dam itself is 200 feet taller than the Washington Monument (in DC, where we were recently). There are tons of concrete in the Hoover Dam (4.5 million cubic yards, to be exact). That is enough to build a two lane road from Miami, Florida all the way up to Seattle, Washington. Or enough cement to build a 4-foot sidewalk around the entire Earth at the equator. Do you know what the equator is? Take a look at the map, can you find Miami, Florida and Seattle, Washington? Can you use the map scale to tell how many miles apart they are? Is Miami in the northern or southern part of the USA? How about Seattle: northern or southern? Remember the northern part would be the top half, while the southern part is the bottom half. What cardinal direction would you travel going from Miami to Seattle?

I just got an email from Pandora.

Hey Geo, can u give me more info about the equator. Where is it? What is it?

The equator is an imaginary line that goes around the entire Earth, kind of like its waistband. It is located at O-degrees latitude. Countries that are right around the equator have tropical climates. The equator helps mapmakers and map users to know exact coordinates (longitude and latitude) of various locations. We will talk more about all of those terms in another post. HTH. Geo

Now back to our day. While we were downtown we met a woman with a lot of children. I think there were six kids, but there were so many I lost count!! They were all under 5 or so and moving fast. We walked by the lady on our way to the convention center. We felt so badly for her: she was trying to put money into a meter on the street outside of the convention center. Every time she turned to the meter, a kid ran into the street or hit another kid or something. She seemed VERY frazzled. Meri and I knew we were on a tight schedule, but couldn't just walk by. So we offered to help her. We asked if we could help with her children, while she put her coins into the parking meter. She was THRILLED to have the help. It is funny how such a small act of kindness can mean so much sometimes. We played and sang with the kids while their mom paid the parking meter. She wanted to thank us, but only had one thing to give us - a state quarter. She insisted that we take it. I hope it is a state that I don't already have in my collection back home in Phoenix. We shall see when we return.

We were about 30 minutes late arriving at the convention center. Remember what I said about "nice guys finishing last?" Well, we missed Louie. He was GONE by the time we arrived. He did send us a clue to his next stop. (We included his text message below). Boy, does this guy travel a lot. Hopefully we can catch up with him in the next location. I wish he would have met up with us later tonight. It is almost as if he doesn't WANT us to catch him. Here is the text from Louie:

Sorry I missed U2. Big cty w big bell, E USA

Where could he be? It is a city on the eastern side of the US with a bell? I think we are going to have to call GT and get his help on this one. Can you all take a guess as to what major Eastern city has a bell? The bell must be famous or something. I am thinking about Eastern cities that are big, which one do you think we should try? Do any of these have a famous bell?

     - Geo

Hoover Dam

Another shot of the Hoover Dam

Another great shot of the Hoover Dam - Amazing!


US Map
Take a look at the map, can you find Miami, Florida and Seattle, Washington? Can you use the map scale to tell how many miles apart they are? Is Miami in the northern or southern part of the USA? How about Seattle: northern or southern? What cardinal direction would you travel going from Miami to Seattle?

Vocabulary Terms:

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

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

dam - a wall that is built to hold back the water of a creek, stream, or river. Dams may also be used to generate hydroelectric power, to provide water supply to a town or city, to control flooding, or to create recreational areas or habitats for wildlife.

desert - a sandy and dry landform and biome. Deserts typically have extreme temperatures: either hot or cold.

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.

hydroelectric power - power (electricity) generated through the use of the gravitational force of falling or flowing water.

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.

tropical - a climate with high temperatures and a decent amount of rainfall. Tropical climates are usually located between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, closer to the equator than cooler, temperate climates.

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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 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..).

Grade 6-8: Understands distributions of physical and human occurrences with respect to spatial patterns, arrangements, and associations (e.g. why some areas are more densely settled than others).

Understands the physical and human characteristics of a place.

Grade 6-8: Knows the human characteristics of places (e.g., cultural characteristics such as religion, language, politics, technology, family structure, gender; population characteristics; land uses; levels of development).

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

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 nature and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.

Grade 3-5: Understands how cultures differ in their use of similar environments and resources (for example, comparing how people live in Phoenix, Arizona with how people live is Riyadh, Saudi Arabia).

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).

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