Friday, July 21, 2017

This Blog's History: Solar Eclipse Misconception

There's a solar eclipse coming to the United States next month, so for This Friday in This Blog's History I point you back to a misconception regarding this solar eclipse I found.

Solar Eclipse Misconception

Thursday, July 20, 2017

No Dumb Questions Podcast

Looking to add another podcast to your list?  I recently found the No Dumb Questions podcast.  This podcast is produced by Destin Sandlin and Matt Whitmann.  You may know Destin Sandlin from the Smarter Every Day Youtube channel.

No Dumb Questions Podcast

Destin and Matt produce a new episode about once every 2-3 weeks and the topics range from science topics to political topics to other random topics of their choosing.  It's a good podcast so I encourage you to check it out.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Mobile App Tools to Help you Observe the Skies

Going back just a decade, it was much harder to find tools or obtain the information needed to do quality observing of the night skies.  It was harder to find objects in the sky.  It was harder to determine when viewing conditions were best.  It was harder to determine which locations were best for observing.  It was also harder to know when specific astronomical events were occurring.  Now it is much easier as all of this information is contained in a device that nearly all of us now own.  That device is your smartphone.

There are so many mobile apps that you can download for free or for low cost to assist you in observing that now anyone can do it with very little prior knowledge.  These mobile apps make it very easy for young kids to observe the night sky as well, so if you're uncomfortable using these apps or aren't sure how to use them, hand your phone over to your kid and let him/her teach you!

What are some of these apps?  There's the Clear Sky app which does an excellent job showing you the sky conditions at a given location.  It will provide details on cloud cover and future predicted cloud cover at your location.  I have this app on my phone and use it quite a bit.  There's also Sky Map which uses your phone's GPS to map out the sky for you.  Just point your phone at the sky and this app will show you a map of what you are currently viewing.  There's the Astronomy Tools Night Sky app that provides information on light pollution, sky conditions, and sends alerts of upcoming astronomical events.

There are many more as well and a few, including those above, are described in this article.

Turn Your Smartphone into an Astronomy Toolbox with Mobile Apps

Check out this article, download a few apps, and get started.  Turn that phone over to your kids or have them download these apps on their phone and get out there and observe!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Extreme Exoplanets

Astronomy is so cool!  There's no other way to describe it.  It is simply awesome!  I've written about exoplanets several times on this blog.  Every week or so it seems there is new exciting news regarding the discovery of new exoplanets or new information on previously discovered exoplanets.  An exoplanet is a planet outside of our Solar System orbiting another star.  The first exoplanet was discovered in the 1990s and as of this writing there are now 3,610 officially confirmed exoplanets discovered.  There are billions and billions of exoplanets in the Milk Way Galaxy, but just a few thousand that are officially known.  Those numbers have exploded in recent years and will continue to grow.  In addition to finding these exoplanets, astronomers are learning more and more about specific exoplanets.  One of the more recent discoveries is an exoplanet that is hotter than most stars!

Extreme exoplanet: Astronomers discover alien world hotter than most stars

This planet has a surface temperature of 4,600 Kelvin.  Wow!  The Sun's surface temperature is about 5,800 K.  This planet is cooler than the Sun, but the Sun is larger and hotter than most stars, so this planet is actually hotter than most stars.  Again, wow!  This planet is a few times the size of Jupiter and orbits a very hot star, which partly explains why the surface temperature is so hot.  The planet is also tidally locked to the star, meaning one side of the planet is always facing the star.  This contributes to the higher temperature.

What will astronomy discover next week?  Who knows, but it could be anything and that's what makes astronomy so exciting!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Evolution Misconception #5: Evolution Takes Place Over Long Time Periods Only

In this ongoing series on evolution misconceptions I bring you the misconception that evolution only takes place over long periods of time.  While it is true that much of evolution does take place over long periods of time, there is evolution that takes place in very short periods of time.  Remember, evolution is a process in which changes in genetic material are passed on from one generation to the next.  For species with long lifetimes, evolution will naturally be a slower process, but for shorter lived species, it can happen much quicker.  Here's a great article from Discover Magazine on male guppies evolving over just a few generations.

Rapid Evolution Changes Species in Real Time

Although I don't have enough information to know if it is an evolutionary process, scientists are finding that some coral are adapting to warmer ocean temperatures much better than others.  Coral reefs are experiencing great levels of bleaching, but some areas are found to have coral surviving at higher rates.  It's a big area of study right now.  If it is an evolutionary process, it is happening on short time periods as it is only relatively recently in the last couple of decades that ocean temperatures have risen as dramatically as they have.

This misconception is probably used much less by creationists to debunk evolution than the previous misconceptions I've discussed, but I have seen it used.  The truth, however, is that evolution takes place over both long and short time periods.  Short time periods changes in a species is not a check mark against evolution.

Friday, July 14, 2017

This Blog's History: Gift to a Soccer Coach

In case you missed it, for This Friday in This Blog's History I point you to a post I wrote on the joys of coaching youth soccer.  You never know what six and seven year old soccer players will tell you or give you!

Best Gift to a Soccer Coach

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Karate Kid III

As a family we've been working through the Karate Kid movies.  Most recently we watched Karate Kid III.  Just like Karate Kid II, Karate Kid III begins immediately after the previous movie.  And I mean immediately!  Karate Kid III starts with Daniel and Mr. Miyagi stepping off the plane on their return trip from Japan to the U.S.

Karate Kid III tries to bring back the magic of the original.  Through a series of events Daniel finds himself back in the tournament he won the previous year, in an attempt to defend his title.  The villains in the movie are classic 1980s villains.  In other words, they are WAY over the top in their villain ways!  Why do I say that?  Listen to the laugh of the main villain.  It is a way over the top, crazy, insane laugh that only a 1980s villain could pull off.  :-)  My 6 year old thought this was funny.

Both kids enjoyed the movie.  I vaguely remember a few parts of this movie, but I'm not sure I ever watched this movie from start to finish.  I simply did not remember much of it if I did.  Next up to watch is The Next Karate Kid which stars Pat Morita as Mr. Miyagi and a young Hillary Swank.  Karate Kid III was the last with Ralph Macchio.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #12: Tim Horton's

On our drive home from West Virginia I spotted a sign for Tim Horton's and it was lunch time.  I radioed ahead to my colleague driving the other vehicle and we stopped.  Here was my lunch:

Grilled cheese and a doughnut.  Yummy!  That's really all I have to share today.  If you see a Tim Horton's while driving, make sure to stop and have a doughnut.  Good stuff.  :-)

This post concludes this series on the high school trip I chaperoned to West Virginia.  We had a fantastic time and learned much about the history of coal mining in West Virginia.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #11: Out for a Hike

On our last full day in West Virginia we went on a couple of hikes in Chief Logan State Park, totaling about 7 miles.  It started raining lightly near the end, but that kept the temperature down so it was actually a positive.

Along the way we saw this guy.

I'm told this was a copperhead so we kept our distance!  In the end it was a good day in West Virginia.  Later, after leaving from the restaurant we ate at, I ended up doing one of those 20 point turn arounds in the parking lot in the big SUV we were driving.  Big SUV plus narrow parking lot equals me creating quite the scene turning around.  :-)

Monday, July 10, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #10: The New River Gorge Bridge

Our last stop before heading home on a day in which we also visited Coalwood, WV and Bluefield, WV, was the New  River Gorge Bridge in Victor, WV.  This added a couple of hours to our drive on this day, but WOW was it worth it!  The bridge was built in 1974 and sits 876 feet above the river below.  Here are a few of the pictures I took.

Very cool!  This is a National Historic Park site so if you have a National Historic Park book, you can get it stamped here.  From the parking lot of the park there's a short, but somewhat step (very well maintained staircase) to walk down and get a closer look at the bridge.  An engineering marvel!  Definitely worth a visit even if it means extra driving time.

Friday, July 7, 2017

This Blog's History: Growing List of Planets

A couple of months ago I wrote a post on the quickly growing number of known planets outside our own Solar System.  For This Friday in This Blog's History I point you back to that post.

Growing List of Planets

At that time there were 3,607 confirmed planets outside our Solar System.  I bet that number has grown since I wrote that post.  Let's find out.  Yep!  As of June 1 (the latest update) there are 3,610 planets, an increase of 3 since I wrote that post.  Astronomy...discovering whole new worlds...literally!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Evolution Misconception #4: Evolution States An Individual Evolves in a Lifetime

In the fourth installment of this series on evolution misconceptions I present the evolution misconception that states an individual evolves in a single lifetime.  In other words, this misconception states that you or I will evolve during our lifetime or that your dog will evolve in its lifetime.  That's simply not true.  You or I do not evolve in our lifetime.  We grow and developmentally change and there are environmental factors that can come into play, but these are not evolutionary processes.

Evolution is a change to the genes, or genetic material, of a species that passes from generation to generation over time.  Note that this is not changes in genetic material to an individual, but a population of individuals over time.  Often this is a long period of time, but it doesn't have to be, as we'll see in a future evolution misconception discussion.  In an individual's lifetime, changes to the genetic material may or may not be hereditary.  Somatic mutations that occur in some, but not all cells, are not passed to the next generation.  Hereditary mutations that are present in the sperm and egg cells do pass to the next generation.

A good example of a somatic mutation not passed on to the offspring is exposure to ultraviolet radiation that results in skin cancer.  The individual's genetic makeup has changed, but this change is not passed to the next generation.  Lung cancer due to smoking is another example.  A parent who smokes and contracts lung cancer does not pass this genetic material on to the child.  The child can be affected through second hand smoke, but this is not an evolutionary process.

An example of a hereditary mutation in which the genetic material is passed along to the offspring  is hemophilia, a disorder in which blood does not clot.  The chances of having hemophilia depend on your parents.
  • No sons of a man with hemophilia will have hemophilia.
  • All daughters of a man with hemophilia will be carriers (called obligate carriers).
  • If a carrier has a son, the son has a 50% chance of having hemophilia.
  • If a carrier has a daughter, the daughter has a 50% chance of being a carrier.
I've pulled the above list from How Hemophilia is Inherited.

The point in all of this is that an individual does not evolve.  It's a population of individuals that evolve over time.  You are not suddenly going to evolve a third arm.  Your failure to grow a third arm is not a failure in the Theory of Evolution.  

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #9: Eastern Regional Coal Archives

After driving through Coalwood, WV and seeing the Homer Hickman boyhood home we drove to Bluefield, WV to visit the Eastern Regional Coal Archives.  There was a stop in between to have what the outdoor sign said "The Best Milkshakes in West Virginia!"  They were good, but the best?  Hard to say.  :-)

The Eastern Regional Coal Archives are located in the Craft Memorial Library in Bluefield, WV.  I learned later that the high school students we were driving around were not all that excited about the visit to these archives.  That all changed once they arrived.  We were taken into a room and items from the archives were brought out for the students to browse through.  There were high school year books from the 1920s, old baseball uniforms, newspaper articles on the coal mine wars, etc.  The students spent more time at the archives than anticipated, primarily because they dug into this material and were excited to learn more.

The high school yearbooks were quite interesting, and horrifying, given what was contained inside.  There were several comments printed in the yearbook calling girls "fatties".  What?!?!  Under the item 'most likely to be...' there were references to 'a bum', 'homeless', and 'a hooker'.  The word 'hooker' wasn't used, but something else I don't quite remember that had the same meaning.  WOW!  Printed in high school yearbooks!  Yikes!

At the end of our visit I think everyone was glad we stopped at these archives.  We all learned quite a bit!  After this visit we drove to the New River Gorge Bridge, but you'll have to wait for the next post to see my pictures.  For more on the Eastern Regional Coal Archives, go here:

Eastern Regional Coal Archives

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Teaching my Kids Risk

At the start of this summer I purchased a couple of strategy based board games to play with the kids during summer break.  The first we played is a classic, Risk.  If you are unfamiliar, Risk is a board game in which each player stakes out geographical ground and then must attempt to defeat the armies of all other players and obtain world domination.  I've played Risk before, although it has been many years.  We started by placing our armies as shown below.

I quickly laid claim to Australia.  :-)  Check out my troops in Southeast Asia protecting Australia.  :-)

I ended up winning the game but my 6 year old was holding her own for quite some time!  They had a lot of fun playing and that was my goal.  Risk requires much strategy and critical thinking skills and my hope is playing games such as these, they'll have fun and develop those critical thinking skills at the same time.  Up next?  Settlers of Catan!

Monday, July 3, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #8: Homer Hickman House

On our third full day in West Virginia we took a drive through parts of West Virginia that took us through Coalwood, WV, the boyhood home of Homer Hickman.  Homer Hickman authored the book 'Rocket Boys' from which the movie October Sky was based on.  As with many old coal towns in West Virginia, there's not much left in Coalwood.  The Homer Hickman boyhood home is still there, owned and lived in by someone else.

We also took a look at a few of the old buildings owned by the coal mining company, all of which are now in disrepair.

The picture above with all of the broken windows is the building in which Hickman used machinery owned by the coal company to build the rockets. 

Coalwood, WV was a very interesting stop given the history behind it, but yet very depressing given that there is not much left of this town.  Many abandoned buildings in disrepair.  

Friday, June 30, 2017

This Blog's History: Evolution Misconception #2 - It's Just A Theory

In case you missed my  post on the evolution misconception that evolution is just a theory, I'm re-posting it today for This Friday in This Blog's History.  The theory misconception is one creationists often use to discredit evolution.  Unfortunately for them, the word 'theory' does not mean what they think it means.

Evolution Misconception #2 - It's Just a Theory

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Did Humans and Dinosaurs Co-Exist? NO NO NO NO NO!!!!

Did humans and dinosaurs co-exist?  My mind is blown when I hear people claim this.  My mind is even more blown when seeing this YouGov poll from 2015 that found 41% of Americans believe humans and dinosaurs co-exised.  WOW!  That is insane!!!  How is this even possible?!?!?!  If you're curious about how YouGov did their polling, go here:

Over 40% of Americans believe humans and dinosaurs shared the planet

This just amazes me!  I don't even know what to say other than no, humans and dinosaurs did not co-exist!  The timing of the two was not even close!  There's a separation of about 63 MILLION YEARS between the extinction of the dinosaurs and early humans.  Seriously?  41%?  Is there hope for humanity?  Hard to believe so given this polling.  Sigh.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Evolution Misconception #3: Evolution Explains the Origins of Life

Today is the third is a serious of posts on evolution misconceptions.  Thus far I've posted on the following misconceptions.

1.  If evolution is true, then why are there still monkeys?
2.  Evolution is just a theory.

Today's misconception states:

Evolution explains the origins of life.

No, no it doesn't.  The primary focus of evolution is how life changed after it first appeared on Earth.  Evolution does not describe how life on Earth came to be.  This doesn't, however, mean you can throw in your idea, whether it be a single god, multiple gods, aliens, etc. to explain the origin of life.  Not having an answer does not mean you can fill in this gap with your ideas of what you think happened.  Your ideas lack evidence and observations.  There is nothing wrong with saying "I don't know."

Today's evolution misconception is another that evolution denialists use to try to show that evolutionary biologists are uninformed.  They are not uninformed.  It is the denialist who is uninformed.  It is the denialist making up a straw man argument to try to tear down evolution.  It's a common tactic used by the denialists.  Since they can't debate the merits of evolution, they make up questions and ideas biologists don't claim to be true to tear them down.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

More Doctor Who Fun

My kids and I continue to work our way through the first season of modern Doctor Who (starting with the 9th Doctor).  My wife isn't interested in Doctor Who and that's fine.  What's funny, however, is when my 6 year old suddenly launches into a conversation with:

"Mommy, when we were watching Doctor Who, there was this pig in a space suit..."

Image the look on my wife's face when she hears this?!?!  LOL!  In case you're wondering, here's the pig in a spacesuit my daughter is referring to.

Yep, that's a pig in a spacesuit!  You know you want to learn more now!  To do so, watch Doctor Who!!!  AWESOME TV show!

Monday, June 26, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #7 - Hiking in Chief Logan State Park

The day following our visit to the Mine Wars Museum in Matewan, WV, we slept in and then went hiking in Chief Logan State Park, the location of our lodge on this trip.  We hiked the Rattlesnake Trail, supposedly a loop of 1.8 miles.  We completed this in 25 minutes and that was with a couple of longer stops going down a muddy slope.  In other words, not a 1.8 mile loop.  We then took the Coal Mine trail, a supposedly 1.0 mile loop that took us 1.5 hours, so much longer than a mile!  I think the park map needs an update.  :-)  Here are a few shots of our hike.

There was a light rain for most of the hike, but that was okay.  It kept the temperature cooler and given all of the foliage above us, we really didn't get very wet.  Our feet, however, were a different story!  It was quite muddy and wet from the previous days rains, so all of us had soaked shoes and feet by the end of the hike.  Oh well, the beautiful scenery more than made up for soaked feet!  Along the Coal Mine trail we saw the old site of a coal silo.

Very interesting!  We also saw some wildlife.  A few deer, a few squirrels, and this orange salamander!

To sum it all up, we had a great time hiking on this day in West Virginia!  Beautiful!

Friday, June 23, 2017

This Blog's History: Evolution Misconception #1 - Why Are There Still Monkeys?

In case you missed it the first time, let me point you back to the first post on a series I'm writing on the misconceptions of evolution that float around out there.  One of the most obvious misconceptions is the question that is used as a lame attempt to debunk evolution.  If evolution is real, then why are there still monkeys?  You can read my full, original post by clicking the link below, but to answer it very simply, there are still monkeys because man is not the offspring of monkey.  They both evolved from a common ancestor.

Evolution Misconception #1 - Why Are There Still Monkeys?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #6 - Mine Wars Museum

Following our drive to Blair Mountain (or as close as we could get to it), we next headed to Matewan, West Virginia, the home of the new Mine Wars Museum.  The timing of our trip coincidentally coincided with the annual reenactment of the Battle of Matewan.  The Battle of Matewan took place on May 19, 1920 and was a shoot out between local coal miners and the Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency.  Here are a few shots I took of the reenactment.

Very cool!  After this we took a short walk through the town and visiting the Mine Wars Museum, a small, but very informative museum.

Toward the end of the day we drove to Welch, WV and stopped at the courthouse, the site of the murder of Sid Hatfield a year after the Battle of Matewan.

A very busy, but a very fun and informative day for us!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #5 - Battle of Blair Mountain

On our first full day in West Virginia on a recent high school field trip, we drove as close as we could to Blair Mountain.  Blair Mountain holds historical importance as it was the site of a real battle between union coal miners and the coal mine operators.  It was a time in which coal miners were treated horribly and seeking to unionize and gain greater benefits and rights as employees.  The battle took place in 1921 and over one million rounds were fired before the battle came to an end.  I, however, am far, far from being an expert on this.  As I stated before, this trip to West Virginia was organized by my colleague who is a historian who focuses on the history of coal in West Virginia.  I was just along for the ride.  :-)

Battle for Blair Mountain

More recently there is another battle for Blair Mountain.  The site is owned by a private coal company trying to destroy the mountain through the mountain top removal efforts to extract coal from the ground.  Other groups are fighting to prevent this and declare Blair Mountain an historical site.  On our trip we drove as close as we could to Blair Mountain.  The land is privately owned so getting any closer would be trespassing.

That picture, aside from seeing the mountain off in the distance, is all we were able to see.  The drive to this area is beautiful!  Lots of curvy, winding roads, but beautiful!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Karate Kid II

After recently watching the Karate Kid, we checked out the Karate Kid II from the local library.  It's not as good as the first, but still a good movie.  The focus changes from Daniel (The Karate Kid) to Mr. Miyagi.  Actually, the movie starts immediately after the first movie ends.  Daniel is getting ready in the locker room following his tournament win at the end of the first movie.  That's how immediate in time the two movies are.

Very quickly, however, Daniel and Mr. Miyagi head to Okinawa to take care of some business regarding Mr. Miyagi's father.  Once there, things take a turn for the worst when an old rival of Mr. Miyagi's appears.  Unlike the first movie, I did not remember much of the second movie.  I know I saw it as a kid as a few of the scenes were familiar.  One scene in which I do remember occurs when Daniel is asked to karate chop through several sheets of ice. 

The take away message is that fighting is not always the best option.  Mr. Miyagi and his rival, Mr. Sato, never fight, despite the big build up to it.  They work out their differences without fighting.  It's a good message!  Oh, and this movie ends very abruptly just like the first movie.  Daniel wins his forced fight with his rival, the camera pans to Mr. Miyagi's approving smile, and boom, roll credits!  LOL!  Gotta love 1980s movies!  My kids, especially my 6 year old, loved it!

Monday, June 19, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #4 - Chief Logan State Park

On the West Virginia trip I chaperoned last month, we stayed at the Chief Logan State Park Lodge in Logan, WV.  Beautiful location nestled in the mountains of West Virginia!

As I said, beautiful scenery!  Each morning, aside from one in which it was raining, I woke up, showered, grabbed some breakfast and coffee, and sat outside admiring the view and doing a bit of reading.  This was a high school trip, so the kids were all sleeping for several hours after I woke up, so it was very peaceful!  Loved the views!  We also did a bit of hiking in this park, but more on this in future posts.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

This Blog's History: Introducing my Kids to Modern Doctor Who

In case you missed it last month, for This Friday in This Blog's History I point you back to a post in which I discuss the wonders of watching Doctor Who with my kids.  Amazing show!  Watch it.  Wait, that's not strong enough.  Watch it NOW!!!!  :-)

Doctor Who Introduction

Thursday, June 15, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #3 - West Virginia State Museum

While visiting the West Virginia capitol building last month on a school trip, we stopped at the West Virginia State Museum.  In fact, the desk inside the capitol building was unmanned, so I was unable to get my capitol book stamped.  We had to head over to the State Museum to get the stamp.  It was well worth the detour as the museum is excellent and packed full of West Virginia history.  Much of the museum focuses on the coal industry in West Virginia, but it hits on many other areas of West Virginia history as well, including West Virginia's very own potato chip company, Mister Bee!

I bought bag of these chips later in the trip.  Meh.  They were okay, but not great.  There's also an interesting, and very weird story, about 'dressed fleas'.  Seriously, dressed fleas!  See the image below for the story.

When you make your trip to the West Virginia capitol building, make sure to save a couple of hours to visit the State Museum, just across the sidewalk from the capitol.  If your experience is similar to mine, you'll have to go there to get your capitol book stamped.  Funny story.  The guy at the State Museum argued he was much better at stamping the capitol books than the people in the actual capitol building.  LOL!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #2 - State Capitol

On our way to West Virginia with a school trip last month, after a stop at the Hopewell Culture Historical State Park in Chillicothe, OH, we stopped at the West Virginia state capitol building in Charleston, W.V.  This is the second state capitol building I've visited in my life.  I first visited the Iowa state capitol building as a kid, and then again as an adult a few months ago.  The West Virginia state capitol is just my second.  I'm way behind!  Here are a few pictures from the outside.

It's some very beautiful and interesting architecture.  The inside does not disappoint either!

One of the more interesting aspects of the interior of the building, in my opinion, is the two legislative chambers, the house and the senate, seen below.

It gives me a bit of a chill thinking about these two rooms and the bills that eventually became laws in West Virginia that started right here.  I may not agree with some of these laws, but I hold deep respect for the process behind them.  

Of course the capitol building visit was not complete without getting my capitol book stamped!  It only has two stamps now, but that's two stamps closer than I was 6 months ago!

If you're ever in the area of Charleston, WV, take a few hours to visit the capitol building and surrounding grounds.  There are a few memorials outside the capitol building, as well as a state museum right next door.  More on this tomorrow.  The West Virginia capitol building is quite cool with a ton of history behind it.  It's great experience and best of all, it's free!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

West Virginia Trip Post #1 - Hopewell

Last month I had the opportunity to take a group of high school students on a 6 day trip to West Virginia.  Most (ok, all!) of the trip organization was done by one of my colleagues and I was simply an adult chaperone.  The next several posts on this blog will detail this trip as it was a wonderful experience.  We learned a great deal about West Virginia history and had a ton of fun.  Today's post, the first, actually isn't about West Virginia, but a stop we made along the way in Ohio to the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park.

This historical park is home to several mounds that are burial grounds from the Hopewell culture during the period of 200 BCE and 500 CE.  At the site we walked around and toured the mounds.  Very interesting!

As you can see, the mounds are very well maintained.  There are a few trails in the area as well, including a small museum inside that is free to tour.  In the visitor's center I found a National Parks Passport book.  Being the geek I am I purchased one and got a stamp in it for visiting this site.  :-)  The guy working the visitor's center showed us the example passport book and shared its story.  This book was filled with tons of stamps.  Not sure how many parks were still to be visited, but whoever owned this book had visited most of the national parks in the U.S.  This person left their book at this site, but never returned to pick it up.  No name/address was left in site, so now the center keeps it on hand just in case someone does come looking for it.  Sad story!!!  

For more on this park, go here:

If you ever find yourself in this area (Chillicothe, OH) be sure to stop at the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park and tour the mounds and museum inside.  It's a great educational experience.  As I was on a school trip, my own kids were not with me, so hopefully sometime in the future we'll be able to make a return visit so they can experience the mounds and the history of the area.