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image: My Wonderful World
MARCH 2009 NEWSLETTER
Last month I urged you to ask Congress for action on geography education. A huge "THANK YOU" to everyone who participated! Nearly 6,000 emails went out, and in late February the House introduced a bill called Teaching Geography is Fundamental (H.R. 1240). Not only does TGIF have the best acronym on the Hill, it has a strong, bipartisan set of lead sponsors: Chris Van Hollen (MD), Roy Blunt (MO), Vernon Ehlers (MI), and Tim Walz (MN). TGIF will provide funding for teacher training and research in geography, currently the ONLY core subject without a dedicated source of federal support. Thanks. You guys rock!
Dive Into Oceans
Photo:This month we invite you to join us in exploring the oceans blue. These salty bodies of water cover more than two-thirds of the planet and are home to some of its most diverse and fascinating creatures. They also provide food and oxygen for land dwellers and regulate weather and climate.

Start your journey by getting a "lay of the sea" with Google Oceans. Released this month, it applies the same kinds of visualization used to fly over Earth's landmasses to take you diving down into the ocean. Visit shipwrecks and the Mariana Trench with experts from National Geographic and the BBC. Educators can continue the learning with lesson plans from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Geographic Xpeditions.

Go one step further and become an ocean activist. Participate in this month's My Wonderful World (MWW) Challenge: Commit to eating only sustainable seafood during March. Sustainable seafood is fish and shellfish that have been harvested in quantities sufficient to protect future reserves and that contain low levels of toxins, such as mercury. Learn about responsible seafood choices with this handy guide from NOAA; you'll protect your family's health and the health of the world's aquatic ecosystems.
Read more >
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Number of letters YOU sent to Congress last month to support geography education
5,890

National Geographic
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HOT THIS MONTH
Ireland Rides the Wave to Green Energy
Photo: sidebar Happy St. Patrick's Day! Although most associate the holiday primarily with Ireland, St. Patty's is celebrated around the world, most notably in countries with large populations of Irish immigrants. While thoughts traditionally turn to green beer today, our friends on the Green Isle are exploring new ways to go green by harnessing the power of—you guessed it—the ocean!
Blue Zones: Join in the Discovery
Photo: sidebar Blue Zones is a scientific project to explore "pockets" of the world where people enjoy particularly long, healthy lives, and to identify strategies for healthy living worldwide. This April 20–May 1, schools can join scientists in a research expedition to the northern Aegean Sea through the Blue Zones Quest. It's all free, aligned with national standards in reading, language arts, health, and geography, and it's funded by AARP and National Geographic.
Register for BioBlitz
Photo: sidebar BioBlitz is an annual event that is part scientific endeavor, part festival, and part outdoor classroom. The main attraction is a mad dash to catalog the biodiversity of a local protected area within 24 hours. Teachers, register to participate at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore from May 15–16. Those not in the Indiana area can learn about biodiversity with these games from the World Wildlife Fund and this atlas of marine biodiversity.
World Water Day
Photo: sidebar March 22 is United Nations World Water Day and this year's theme is "transboundary waterways." Get involved! Visit the World Water Day Web site to send an attractive e-card and see a worldwide map of planned events. Educators, participate in the WASH-in-Schools and H20 for Life water-activism global school partnership programs, or register for National Environmental Education Week's Be Water Wise! event next month.

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Take Action
Photo:A Whale of a Time
What's not to love about whales? The majestic mammals have inspired awe among humans for centuries with their captivating songs and gargantuan size. They have also served as crucial sources of food, fuel, tools, and clothing. Learn more about whales as whaling season draws to a close this month.

Fun fact: Did you know that gray whales travel more than 10,000 miles from Mexico to the Arctic, the longest migration route of any mammal?

This March, National Geographic is celebrating blue whales, the most massive of the whales. Check out the great resources available:
Still Blue—article, photo gallery, and interactive quiz from National Geographic magazine
"Kingdom of the Blue Whale"—National Geographic Channel Special
Blue Whales—games, videos, and stories from National Geographic Kids
Finally, Save the Whales by visiting the Web site of a well-known advocacy group started by a 14-year-old girl with an influential T-shirt.
Read more >

Take Action
Photo:The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
In the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from the nearest coastline at a location known as the North Pacific Gyre, is a mass of garbage that some estimate to be as much as twice the size of Texas. Called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it is primarily composed of plastics that have been carried along ocean currents and broken down into tiny particles.

Why should we care? The microscopic particles serve as concentrated sources of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). POPs are capable of long-term transport, they persist in the environment, and they have been shown to bioaccumulate in human and animal tissues, resulting in irreversible damage to human health and the environment.

What can be done? We can help stop the problem at its source by limiting use of non biodegradable plastics, like shopping bags, and purchasing reusable bags made of alternative materials instead. Keep reading to learn more about the issue and what you can do.
Read more >

Take Action
Read this week's Five for Friday blog post to learn more about some of National Geographic's greatest ocean adventurers. Included is deep-sea explorer Robert Ballard, who discovered the ruins of the Titanic in 1985 and has been a leader in developing innovative classroom curriculum with National Geographic's JASON Project. Also featured are oceanographer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle, former chief scientist at NOAA, who has led more than 60 expeditions and logged more than 6,000 hours underwater throughout her career; and National Geographic Emerging Explorers David de Rothschild (environmental storyteller), Brad Norman (marine conservationist), and Tierney Thys (marine biologist/filmmaker).
Read more >
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