11 Things We Learned This Week

This week, we learned …

… how the Green Book saved black lives on the road.

The Negro Motorist Green Book was a travel guide series published from 1936 to 1964 by Victor H. Green. It was intended to provide African American motorists and tourists with the information necessary to board, dine, and sightsee comfortably and safely during the era of segregation.
Photograph courtesy the New York Public Library

Our educator has a terrific lesson plan using the Green Book as a primary resource.


… the location of every fossil ever discovered. Time-sink link of the week.

What are fossils?



a splash of river water now reveals the DNA of all its creatures, and New Zealand granted a river the same legal rights as a human being.

The Whanganui iwi (tribe) lobbied to have their namesake river recognized as an ancestor. It has been, which now means if someone abused or harmed it the law now sees no differentiation between harming the tribe or harming the river because they are one and the same.
Photograph by James Shook, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-2.5

How would you incorporate the approach of the Maori stakeholders in our activity on the way people rivers and watersheds?



… how to unearth the Underground Railroad in Massachusetts.

This cautionary poster warned African Americans in Boston about the impact of the Fugitive Slave Act.
Photograph courtesy Wikimedia. Public domain

Lots of old neighborhoods make the claim: See that house? It was once a station on the Underground Railroad. Was it?



… how a citizen scientist found flecks of extraterrestrial dust.

Micrometeorites like these are dust-sized particles that crash into Earth’s atmosphere every day.
Photograph by Shaw Street, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

What is extraterrestrial dust?



… long before trees overtook the land, Earth was covered by giant fungi. Or lichen.

Not an asparagus, this weird “tree” towered over the Paleozoic landscape 400 million years ago.
Illustration by Retallack, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-3.0

What is fungi? What is lichen?



… Minneapolis’ Vikings Stadium is great for football fans, bad for birds.

US Bank Stadium opened for business in 2016.
Photograph by Darb02, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-4.0

How can better glass save millions of birds every year?



… humpback whales are ganging up around South Africa and no one really knows why.

These humpbacks are gathering in Norway, not South Africa.
Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Humpbacks got some good news last year!



… when the U.S. was most innovative, and why.

Reuben Spalding of Colorado patented his flying machine in 1889.
Illustration by Ruben Spalding, courtesy European Patent Office

Use our activity to help students assess key innovations and the impact of competition.



… the Titanic is being eaten alive.

A species of extremophile bacteria named Halomonas titanicae is eating away at the hull of Titanic so quickly that the ship may disappear in 20 years.
Photograph by Emory Kristof, National Geographic

How is Nat Geo Explorer in Residence Bob Ballard working to save the Titanic?



… why learning is harder when you’re poor, and what teachers can do about it.

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