In southern France there were an amazing amount of white snails covering the plant and weed stems along the side of the highway. From a distance, they looked like tiny blossoms, but up close you could see hundreds and hundreds of snails stuck to the stems of weeds and stalks. They also covered the top of street sign posts. These snails were completely white with a shell no larger than 2 cm in diameter. Why do you think the snails covered the top of sign posts and plant stems?
When we think of Italy, pasta and pizza are usually the first things that come to our mind, foods most everyone loves to eat! As I cycled through the north central part of Italy, I was fascinated by the amount of corn fields. I also saw tomato crops, grape vines, apple trees, and even kiwi trees. I’m curious what are the major agricultural crops in Italy? What are the top agricultural products grown in your native country or region?
This week I’m cycling in the Dolomites. They are a mountain range in the Northern part of Italy, close to the Austrian border. They look dramatically different than other mountain ranges in Europe because they shoot straight up and are considerably vertical rather than cone-shaped or rolling. Why is this? How and when were the Dolomites formed? How does this mountain range compare to the mountains in your region?
Big cities aren't fun on a bike because of the traffic, complicated roads, sprawling development. Arriving and navigating Milan was a little stressful on a bike, similar to riding through Genoa. I'm wondering what are the 3 largest cities in Italy? What are the 3 largest cities in your country. Guess first, then compare your list to a friend, and then do your research.
This week I’ve been visiting a lot of school and trying to figure out how to find my way through the cities from where I stay and the school I visit. It isn’t always easy to find your way around a city. Draw a map of your city or town and show the route to get from your house to school.
I just crossed the border into Bosnia & Herzegovina. It is one of the countries in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. On my trip I have passed through 2 other countries that used to form part of Yugoslavia? Can you name them? What other countries were once parts of the former Republic of Yugoslavia?
In 1984, Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics. There are still many signs of the Olympics around the city today. Research the cities after Sarajevo that have hosted the Winter Olympics. Where will the Winter Olympics be held in 2014?
I was born in 1979. During this year, some important historical events include McDonald’s introducing the Happy Meal, the Iranian hostage crisis, and the One Child Policy in China was introduced. What year were you born? Research some important historical events that occurred during this year.
I recently update the total kilometers I plan to ride during The Loong Way Home. I now think that I will ride approximately 30,000 kilometers in a total of 14 months. I’m curious if this is more or less than the distance around the Earth? If my total kilometers went in a straight line, would they be more or less than the Earth’s circumference?
Turkey is a unique country because part of it lies in the continent of Asia and the other part is in Europe. I entered from Greece and road through the European part as well as the Asian side. Turkey’s strategic geographical location has been significant throughout history. Look at a map and determine how many countries border Turkey. Which of those are in Europe and which belong to Asia? What countries border where you live?
Week 11 & 12
I ended up flying to Hong Kong from Turkey rather than riding my bike. Look at a globe and come up with a route that I could have taken if I would have been on my bike from Turkey to Hong Kong. Through which countries would I have passed? What major landmarks or sights did I miss by flying on a plane?
Week 13 & 14
On my trip, I’ve rode through, around, and near may types of bodies of water. Research the different bodies of water and make a small illustration to help you remember each. Which would be the most challenging for a cyclist?
Bodies of Water: ocean, sea, bay, isthmus, delta, river, gulf, peninsula, lake
Week 15 & 16
I’m loving all the fresh delicious, and exotic fruit in South East Asia. I find there to be more variety than in Europe. Yet much of it remains a mystery as to the name, where it is grown, and what sort of special and/or nutritional qualities it has. Here are a few pictures of some of my favorite fruit here. Can you….
1) Identify the fruit
2) Describe where it grows or what special conditions it might need
3) Share an interesting fact you learned about it while researching
Week 17 & 18
Vendors sell anything you can imagine off the back of a motorbike. People in Southeast Asia convert their motorbike into a taxi, coffee drink stand, BBQ, animal transporter, juice maker, and ice cream vendor. If you were to convert a motor scooter into a stand or stall to sell something, what would it look like? What would you sell? (Remember the motor scooter still works and drives perfectly, and also has a place for the vendor to sit or stand and prepare their good or service.)
Week 19 & 20
Recently I visited the 5th graders at The Fairview International School in Penang, Malaysia. They were studying all about energy and so we looked out the energy that a cyclists needs on a bike and also how the bike works in order to move and produce energy. Research the bike as a simple machine and how the wheels, pedals, brakes, and gears work together to make it move. How can a bike produce energy? What energy goes into a bike and what energy is released by pedaling?
Week 21 & 22
The further south I went in SE Asia, the more decorations for the Chinese New Year I saw. I arrived in Singapore on the 31st of January, Chinese New Year. This year, 2013, is the year of the Horse. People born in the year of the horse are known to energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. What is your Chinese Zodiac? Research your zodiac and the characteristics that go along with the animal.
Week 23 & 24
The theme for this week’s classroom activities is the number 15,000. It is the distance milestone that I have recently reached on The Loong Way Home. Research and find out any statistics or data that involves this 5-digit number. Is it the distance between two cities, the number of people who fit into a certain stadium? Be creative!
Week 25 & 26
I’m sad to be leaving New Zealand. It is a beautiful country and somewhere I would like to return to explore more. However, I must say that the Sand Flys are quite annoying. They swarm you the minute you are off your bike and the bites itch worse than a mosquito. However, the people from New Zealand say they play an important role in the country’s ecosystem. Research the New Zealand Sand Fly and how this country actually benefits from this pesky insect.
Week 27 & 28
I arrived in Australia and all of a sudden I’ve been exposed to a variety of different wildlife and animals. I’ve seen a koala, kangaroo, porcupine, wallabies. I’ve also seen caution signs for a platypus. Choose one of these animals and investigate some interesting facts about them. What is their habitat? Do they have any predators? Can you find these animals in other parts of the world?
Week 29 & 30
Quite frequently students ask me how long I stay in a particular country. The truth it, it really varies, depending on the size of the country and what I want to see. For instance I was in Monaco for about an hour, but I will be in The United States for almost six months. First predict the 5 smallest and largest countries in the world, according to landmass (square kilometers). Then check your predictions, researching this information. Make a list of the 5 smallest countries in the world, and another list recording the five largest countries.
Week 31 & 32
Continuing with the topic of animals and wildlife in Australia, research some of the animals that wonder the forests of this vast country. What are some of the animals that you think I might be seeing alongside the road? Why do you think there is so much road kill among these animals?
Week 33 & 34
Use the calculations from the Problem of the week Week 33 & 34 to make a graph representing the total distance cycled in each continent. Think about the different types of graph you’ve learned about and chose the one that would best represent the data. Make sure to include your estimated distance for my North American route.
Week 35 & 36
Just like Australia, The United States is a massive country. In fact I’ll be cycling around this country for the next 5 months and I will only see 12 or 13 of the 50 states. Test your geography of the United States. List as many states as you can, first without looking at a map, then find a map to reference and see if you add to your list. How is your country divided? Do you have states or provinces? What is the difference between a state and a province?
Week 37 & 38
The famous question for a long time has been: Why is the sky blue? The different shades of blue I’ve observed in the ocean and seas across the world is what really fascinates me. What makes the color of the ocean change so drastically from one corner of the world to another? Why are some oceans blue-green and other light blue, and others extremely dark? Can you explain why there are so many different shades of blue in the ocean?
Week 39 & 40
For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been following the Colorado River through different landscapes and states. To me, it seems to be a very long river, but I don’t know how it compares in length to other rivers in the world. Find out what the 5 longest rivers are in the world and where they are? Are any of them in danger due to the changing climate? If so, how would these changes affect the people who depend on this river as a water supply?
Week 41 & 42
I’ve seen a lot of different landscapes recently in all the National Parks in Arizona and Utah. The most interesting to me are what is called a “Slot Canyon”. Have a look at the photo below. You would never know that there is a colorful world of swirls inside these walls. How is a slot canyon different than a normal canyon, like The Grand Canyon? What makes a slot canyon so unique? Do you know of any other slot canyons in the world?
Week 43 & 44
How much do you actually know about a bicycle? I’m constantly learning new things about my bike from how it works to the different parts and how to make repairs. Draw a bike, maybe your bike at home if you have one and label the different parts. How many parts can you label? Use the computer or a book to label additional parts. If you want a challenge, write a short sentence describing the function of each part of the bike.