Cancun, Mexico & More

Week 10

62

A Massive Crater & Myriad Cenotes

An early trip took us to Cancun, Mexico on the Yucatan peninsula. One of the most striking features of the geology of the area is that there are lots of cenotes – more than 6,000. Many are easily seen from the air. A cenote is a natural hole in limestone bedrock – a sinkhole – with water at the bottom. Some cenotes are small and shallow, while others are very large and deep. SCUBA divers from around the globe go to them to explore the underground water world. Maybe someday I’ll get a chance to join them.

Another astonishing geological feature, just off the northwestern part of the peninsula, is the Chicxulub Crater. It cannot even be seen because it lies deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico and is buried under tons of sediment. However, its formation affected the whole world.

65 million years ago a giant asteroid or meteor (110 miles across) hit the earth in that location. It is believed that the impact resulted in changes to the atmosphere that altered the climate and caused the extinction of most of the existing plant and animal life. The age of dinosaurs ended but it opened the way for the evolution of mammals.

On the special map above, the coastline is shown as a white line. A striking series of concentric features reveals the location of the crater. White dots represent water-filled cenotes in the limestone rocks northern Yucatan.

Sci & Tech say:  Learn more about . . .

Take the Sci/Tech Challenge:

I you visited one of the Yucatan cenotes each week, how many years would it take for you to see them all?

63

Sci Checks Out Sombreros

Sci in MexicoIn a market in Cancun, we found many examples of Mexican folk art that tourists can buy. As you can see, Sci liked the straw sombreros (hats) on the left. They are trimmed in striped serape cloth and decorated with the Spanish phrase, “Viva Mexico” which means “Long live Mexico.” The shape of the sombrero is so recognizable that an astronomer named a galaxy after it.

The hats in the stack on the right are made in the style worn by traditional Mariachi Bands. I would love to have bought one of those, but there’s not enough room in the plane for a souvenir that big. So, I just took a photo of it!

Sci & Tech say:  Learn more about . . .

Take the Sci/Tech Challenge:

  • Look around your classroom. Write down the names of at least ten things you see. Use Google Translator to learn the Spanish words for these things.  Teach friends or family what you learn.
  • Do a web search to find what lies at the center of the Sombrero Galaxy.

64

On the Road in Cancun, Mexico

Cancun is a resort city on the Yucatan Peninsula. From here, tourists often visit other nearby historic sites and natural wonders.

The road signs point the way to Tulum, where you can climb ancient Mayan ruins that overlook the sea, and to Bacalar, a town where you can swim in the Lagoon of Seven Colors, a lake nicknamed for its beautifully-colored water.

In the lagoon are formations of stromatolites, layered collections of cyanobacteria dating back billions of years. These are the bacteria which produced the oxygen that allowed life to thrive on Earth. The alkalinity of these waters – the same factor that gives rise to the legendary seven colors – is what allows the bacteria to survive. However, they are fragile (much like coral) and their survival is threatened by factors such as careless tourists, water pollution and ill-planned development.

Sci & Tech say:  Learn more about . . .

Take the Sci/Tech Challenge:

If it’s 15 miles from the road sign to Tulum, and you can travel at a speed of 30 mph, how long will it take for you to get there?

64

The Mayans Achieve

I think it is fun to explore the structures built by older civilizations. I know people who have climbed pyramids like this one; I hope I get the chance to do the same one day. Until then, it is fun to study them.  Here’s some of what I know about them:

The Maya civilization were ancient people of Mexico and Central America who lived in independent city-states from 1000 BCE to about 1600 CE. They had highly advance engineers and astronomer. They also:

  • were the first to use rubber.
  • invented chocolate.
  • developed an advanced language system of writing and books.
  • invented an amazingly-accurate calendar.
  • Recorded accurate records of the movement of heavenly bodies.
  • created beautiful art using bone, shells, stone and textiles.
  • practiced advanced medicine.
  • applied advanced engineering techniques in farming, such as terrace hillside and water-runoff control.

Sci & Tech say:  Learn more about . . .

Take the Sci/Tech Challenge:

Follow the directions at this website and make your own Mayan calendar.

66

Reconnecting

One of the best things about coming home from a trip is finding Olive there waiting to join me in some quiet time or in an exciting new adventure.

Can I help?

As you can see, Olive has a mind of her own. I sat down to write to you and she decided it was time to practice her computing skills. She didn’t move until I promised to take her on a long bike ride.

Ready, Set, Go!

Olive has her own transparent, waterproof, well-ventilated cat carrier so she can safely join me on my frequent bike rides. It also doubles as a backpack.  Maybe she will join me one day on a trip to BST.

Sci & Tech say:  Learn more about . . .

Take the Sci/Tech Challenge:

Do a web search to find images of  commercially-produced cat trees. Then, design one using found materials. If you don’t have a cat of your own, give it as a gift or donate it to a local animal shelter.  Share your creation by emailing a photo to muccij@burnsscitech.org.

 

 

 

 

 

Sci & Tech say:  Learn more about . . .

 

Take the Sci/Tech Challenge: