The series will include both fiction books and nonfiction companion books with interesting and fun experiments and activities to go with each story.
As I research and write the books, I’m going to share with you some of the great resources and ideas I find and develop so that you can dive right away into exciting STEAM activities that you can do with your children or students.
The first resource I wanted to share with you is about space archaeology. Haven’t heard about it before? Neither had I. It’s not about studying ancient civilizations on Mars. Instead, it’s about using satellite technology to do archaeology far more effectively.
Sarah Parcak is a space archaeologist and has been described as a hybrid of Indiana Jones and Google Earth because she has pioneered the use of discovering lost cities through the use of satellite imagery. She uses high resolution satellites with thermal and infrared capabilities to help find cities buried beneath the earth. Using this technology, she has found over 3000 ancient settlements in Egypt.
How does it work? In a number of different ways.
Thermal infrared can measure heat. How does this help? In the Valley of Kings in Egypt, the ground heats up during the day. A thermal infrared image can identify cooler spots, which are brighter than the darker warm areas. The ground in that spot may not be as hot as surrounding areas because it is being cooled by air escaping from the an empty space (like a buried room) below it.
Satellite imagery can also measure the chemical signature of the soil. This can be particularly helpful after many weeks of wet weather because buried mud-brick walls absorb a lot of moisture which results in a chemical signature that infrared images can pick up.
Think this is only for archaeologists with PhDs? Nope.
Sarah has started the website GlobalXplorer to allow all of us to become global citizen explorers. The first expedition was to Peru. Over 70,000 regular people from more than 100 countries reviewed millions of satellite images of Peru, covering 20% of the country. The result? They collectively identified 19,084 features of archaeological interest, including 384 sites of very high interest. Hopefully, they’ll do another expedition in the future.
After using satellite imagery to identify potential sites, archaeologists often use drones to get more detailed images of the sites. If those images and video further confirm the likelihood of archaeological interest, the next step may be to come in and take core samples. That’s the realm of a geoarchaeologist, like George “Rip” Rapp, who has discovered two lost cities in China.
But that’s a story for another blog post.