[This will be the one of several subjects we examined. Look for future posts which will deal with History, Tech, PE, and more]
Short Synopsis: Smart technology is here to stay. We are all hooked and future generations will be connected to it one way or another. The access to these tools will be a part of every day life for most young kids. As a means to bridge the gap I will take 5 important subjects from school and show how travel combined with these new modern-day tools can lead to a positive education and growth for kids and adults alike.
Math and Science
We either love or hate these subjects. For those that hate them it's a shame because they are some of the most widely used subjects in life. I believe travel can be a way to make them a little more fun again. Seeing the practical side of a school subject always makes it more appealing to learn. Math and science go together a majority of the time, so I have lumped them together and have also thrown in geography because in travel they run into each other a lot. Planning and mapping out a trip is a great way to learn these subjects. First you learn geography of the area. Where is the biggest cities? Which direction is it from where you start? How close is it to other places of interest? I never knew much about Germany's geography until I lived there and traveled there for two years. Now if someone asks "Oh, did you go to Berlin?" I can say nope that city is on the opposite end of Germany about 6 hours North of where I was. Right there I used directions, distance via time, and geographical location. Taking the math a step further I could figure out how long it would take me to travel a distance of 456 miles going 70 miles per hour. By using the equation Distance divided by Speed = Time one can figure out that it would take about 6.5 hours to get there. This is also an easy opportunity to show kids algebra. Reverse the equation to have them figure out speed. Distance divided by time would equal how fast you need to go. So say there is a time crunch. You have to travel 456 miles but need to make it there by 7:00. It's 2:00. How fast do you need to go? Since you only have 5 hours you divide 456/5=91 miles/hr. Dad is going to have to speed up!
Another great math and science education while traveling is conversions. Europeans use the metric system. They drive in kilometers per hour. How fast is that in miles per hour? They figure elevation in meters. How tall is that mountain in feet? All of these present realistic math equations that become necessary to know in certain situations. Another useful conversion is for weather. Checking out weather patterns and climates is a great science education alone. However, knowing the mathematical difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit will help a lot. 23 degrees C sounds pretty cold in F if you don't know the difference. You may be wearing a winter coat instead of a swimsuit if you don't learn the equation. Weather is a fun way to view science. How does the mountains effect weather? Why is the coastal area so much more humid? Is it going to rain everyday? Are there different seasons? Being in a place gives a pretty solid example that your body won't forget. Barranquilla Colombia was the most hot and humid place we have ever been. Hank was dripping sweat the second he stepped outdoors. Not only did this teach us about Caribbean style weather, it taught us about the human body. Locals were not sweating. Their skin was dark, and their sympathetic nervous systems were made for heat. The subject of weather now just jumped from science to math to anatomy to sociology! Did I mention there are endless amounts of education while traveling?
One of my favorite categories of science is geology. The land around us changes wherever we go. Discovering the history of the rock or what's beneath the rock is fascinating. I actually got to step foot on two cities at once when I visited Santorini, Greece. The settlement of Akrotiri had been buried by a volcanic eruption but has now been uncovered. The old city was literally frozen in time as the new built on top of it. The volcanic rock made beautiful red, white, and black beaches creating some of the most romantic island views. Being able to touch it and explore it was an education in itself as I collected different shaped rocks and pebbles to bring back as memorabilia.
There are so many opportunities for scientific lab experiments and mathematical equations while traveling. After all it is because of these real-time real-life things that we have the subjects in school anyway. Traveling puts your science and math book to the test, so put on some safety goggles and go explore.
Unlike math class you won't have a teacher to grade you. The mistakes you make will give you a tangible consequence. You will be very late if you don't figure the correct answer of Distance/Speed=Time. The weather patterns will not just be pictures in a book, but could hit you like a tsunamis. Luckily there are some amazing tools out there to help us learn and stay educated along the way.
1.) Googlemaps- Use this app on your phone or other smart device to map out directions and distances. Researching the area before hand will give you a better sense when you get there. If wi-fi is not available while traveling you can always take a snapshot of the map beforehand. We used this trick in Colombia. We looked up a map when we were in wi-fi, took a clear picture so we could see road names, and then used that picture to help guide us around. Letting your kids be the navigator will teach them directions, distances, and geography.
2.) Weather App- Find a weather app to put on one of your devices to keep you in the loop for your travels. It can be set in C or F which then sets up a good math equation for the kids. This will also teach them about way storms form and different climates. How much different is the weather in the city of Bogotá which lies in the mountains verses Santa Marta which lies on the coast?
3.) Geomate Jr. 2.0 GPS and Update Kit- This is a fun tool to really get into exploring with. This techy device comes preloaded with 250,000 geocache locations spanning all 50 states. Maybe this starts a trip or maybe it just makes your trip more fun. Either way they will learn about compass directions, latitude and longitude, and other great science stuff.