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Teacher Edition

Week of December 31, 2017

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We have been having a great time in Hawaii. Our family flew back to Arizona yesterday. Holy Idaho! It was nice seeing everyone, but let's just say it was time for Pandora to go back home to her box (I mean house). We just received this picture as a multimedia text message from Louie's cell phone number! Do you have any idea where this picture was taken? Wherever it is, he must be there now.

     - Meri

Do you know what this is a picture of?


To those of you who knew the picture was Mount Rushmore, you were correct. We are on an airplane right now flying from Hawaii to the Black Hills of South Dakota (where Mount Rushmore is located). During our flight we have been learning more about this amazing sculpture (Mount Rushmore). Did you know over three million people visit this famous landmark every year? I also learned that the sculpture was made of granite! The heads of four of the most important leaders of our country span across this huge memorial. Each head stretches about 60 feet! The faces of former US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln are all carved in gigantic, granite stone.

Do you want to know something wild? Over 90% of Mount Rushmore was carved using dynamite? In fact, dynamite removed about 450,000 tons of rock from the mountain. Wow, I would have liked to see that! The entire memorial has an elevation of 5, 725 feet. Do you remember what elevation means? The memorial covers over 1,200 acres. Wow, this thing is going to be huge.

The Sculptor, Gutzon Borglum (plus 400 workers), began drilling into the 5,724 foot mountain in 1927. He was 60 years old. The project took over 14 years to complete and cost the United States a mere $1,000,000. I am sure in the 1930s and 1940s that was a lot more expensive than a million dollar project would be in the 21st century, since a dollar is worth less and less every year. I wonder what that would be equivalent to in the 2020s?

Mount Rushmore represents the first 150 years of United States history. The brochure explained that Borglum chose these four presidents because of their role in expanding US territory and preserving the Republic. Do you know what a republic is? OK, our plane is about to land in South Dakota. We have attached a map of the United States. Can you find South Dakota? Is this state located in the northern (top), southern (bottom), or middle part of the United States?

     - Geo

Another picture of Mount Rushmore. Do you know the face on the mountain?

Another picture we found of Mount Rushmore


Map of USA
Can you find South Dakota? Is it in the northern or southern part of the United States?


Txt from GT: L just put $ on Visa for prking @ Mt. Rmore

Holy Idaho! If he parked, he must be visiting Mount Rushmore today. We are going to head out as soon as possible. Geo just called for a cab.

Email from Pandora:
I was reading your blog about the construction of Mount Rushmore. Considering dynamite was used, were there many people who were hurt or lives lost? Did anybody fall? Sounds kind of scary!

Email to Pandora:
Although working with dynamite can never be entirely safe, no lives were lost at all throughout the 14 years of construction of the monument.

We have seen so many fascinating animals here in South Dakota: birds (bald eagles, hawks, turkey vultures, and more), mammals (badgers, coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, and even bighorn sheep), and others. Although this area does receive about 18 inches of rain each year, it isn't enough to support all of the plants and animals. That doesn't seem like much water at all. Many dams (and seeps and springs) help to provide watering spots for the animals.

The weather in Mount Rushmore is fascinating. Spring and fall are both pretty short seasons. May and June are the wettest months of the year (glad we aren't visiting then). During summer months, thunderstorms are common for a few hours in the afternoon. They are caused by orographic lift. Orographic lift refers to when elevated terrain, such as mountains, acts as a barrier to the flow of air. When the air ascends (or goes up) a mountain slope it gets cooler. When it cools, that causes clouds and precipitation. At the same time warm air is rising from the plains. When the cold air and warm air meet, the atmosphere becomes unstable and thunderstorms occur. We included a link to learn more about the orographic lift. Most of the weather during the summer is pleasant. We are here during winter, and it isn't nearly as cold as we thought. There is some snow on the ground, but only a small dusting. It is much colder in other cities we have visited.

     - Meri

The beautiful land of South Dakota

Look at the mountains of South Dakota!


Orographic Lift
Learn more about orographic lifts at this website.

Tuesday Night

Meri and I are both very frustrated. We walked around Mount Rushmore for over five hours (it is huge). We even cruised the parking lot looking for energy efficient rental cars. With all the places he has visited to draw attention to energy and natural resources, we thought Louie might drive a hybrid, but there were dozens of them. We didn't see Louie once! We are both at a loss. During our research we found an informative (and interesting) link all about Mount Rushmore. Check it out, if your class has time.

Txt from Louie:
Leaders have vision. C U @highest pt of App Mtns for a better vu

Well now Meri and I are frustrated and confused. Vision? We just saw an amazing sculpture of some great leaders, but does Louie mean a real view or a different kind of "vision"? The App. Mtns? What could that mean? I think it must be some large mountain range? Is it near Mt Rushmore? App could stand for Application, but that makes no sense. I have heard of the Appalachian Mountains, have you heard of those? I have also heard of people walking on the Appalachian Trail (which stretches across the Appalachian Mountains). We learned about that in geography class. I remember it stretches about 2,000 miles! And the trail goes through 14 states. It was also America's first national scenic trail. I have no idea where the mountains and trail are located, though. According to my computer, they are in the eastern portion of the United States. Which cardinal direction will we be traveling from South Dakota to the Appalachian Mountains (use the map in the attached link)? Can you figure out where the highest point of the Appalachian Mountains is? You may need to do a little research!

     - Geo

Here is a sign that we saw on our way to Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

A great picture Meri took at Mount Rushmore


Physical Map of the United States
Can you find South Dakota on this map? Look for the Appalachian Mountains, what cardinal direction will we be traveling now?


Mount Rushmore
Learn more about Mount Rushmore at this interactive site!

Vocabulary Terms:

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

dams - walls that are 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.

elevation - the altitude (or how high) a location is above sea level.

natural resources - any substance that is made by nature and used to enhance the lives of living things. Some examples of natural resources include sunlight, minerals, soil, and water.

orographic lift - when elevated terrain, such as mountains, acts as a barrier to the flow of air. When the air ascends (or goes up) a mountain slope it gets cooler. When it cools, that causes clouds and precipitation. At the same time warm air is rising from the plains. When the cold air and warm air meet, the atmosphere becomes unstable and thunderstorms occur.

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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 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).

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 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 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 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).

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