Thursday, December 22, 2011

Polar bears: icons of the Arctic

A symbol of the North Pole, polar bears are the world’s largest land predator and biggest member of the bear family. With heavy fur, blubber up to four inches thick and black skin that absorbs heat from the sun, polar bears are amazingly well adapted to the Arctic climate.

Interestingly, a polar bear’s fur is transparent. The long, coarse, guard hairs that protect the plush thick undercoat are hollow and transparent. The thinner hair of the undercoat is not hollow but they, like the guard hairs, are colorless.

Want to watch polar bears at play in their own environment? Join Discovery Student Adventures for an amazing 16 day journey to the Arctic!

What’s your favorite Arctic animal? Polar bears? Walruses? Beluga whales? Something else?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Majestic sea turtles struggle for survival

From leatherbacks to loggerheads, 6 of the world’s 7 species of sea turtles are threatened or endangered at the hand of humans. Sadly, they face many dangers as they travel the seas—including accidental capture and entanglement in fishing gear, the loss of nesting and feeding sites to coastal development, and ocean pollution.

Discovery Student Adventures is proud to do its part to help save these incredible creatures. From relocating the nests of loggerhead sea turtles laid in unsafe areas on the Grecian coast, to working with wildlife biologists and volunteers to rehabilitate giant leatherback sea turtles in Costa Rica. It’s all part of our mission to give back to the communities we visit.

Have you ever seen a sea turtle outside of captivity?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rip-roaring adrenaline rush soaring on a zip line

Want to fly but not fearless enough for hang gliding or bungee jumping? Fear not.

Ziplining is a fun, safe alternative. With lines that range from 100 feet to more than a mile, locations around the world offer an incredible variety of great opportunities to fly like a bird at speeds up to 100 mph over rivers and mountains, past volcanoes and above rainforest canopies.

Discovery Student Adventures offers some of the most exhilarating zip lining on the planet in Costa Rica and Ecuador. In Costa Rica, you can take in magnificent views of Arenal volcano and its lush surroundings as you fly above the jungle on a series of 8 zip lines. Our Ecuadorian travelers can explore the Cloud Forest and encounter exotic residents such as tanagers, flycatchers, toucans, and hummingbirds.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The many lists of worldly wonders

Our planet is full of dazzling and awe-inspiring places. When it comes to naming wonders of the world, there is no shortage of places to marvel over.

From Natural Wonders to Ancient Wonders to New Wonders, and even Strange Wonders. Check out the many wonders of our world, and see which ones you can experience with Discovery Student Adventures.

The Original Seven Wonders of the World
  • The Colossus of Rhodes
  • The Great Pyramid of Giza
  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria
  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

The Seven Wonders of the Modern World
  • Channel Tunnel
  • CN Tower
  • Empire State Building
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Itaipu Dam
  • Netherlands North Sea Protection Works
  • Panama Canal

The Natural Wonders of the World
  • Grand Canyon
  • The Great Barrier Reef
  • The Harbor at Rio de Janeiro
  • Mt. Everest
  • Northern Lights
  • Paricutin Volcano
  • Victoria Falls

Strange Wonders of the World
  • Split Apple Rock, New Zealand
  • Mud Volcanoes of Azerbaijan, Eurasia
  • Great Blue Hole, Belize
  • Devils Tower, Wyoming
  • Crystal Caves, Mexico
  • Chocolate Hills, Philippines
  • Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Are there any wonders you'd add to the list?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gaudy gifts: World's tackiest souvenirs

We all like to come back from a trip with something to remind us and our friends of what a wonderful time we had. For Discovery Student Adventure travelers, that might include hand-painted pottery from Italy, fancy chopsticks from China, or Washington Monument paperweight from the nation’s capital. Cool stuff. Unfortunately, not all souvenirs are created equal. We searched the world over for some of the tackiest gifts around. Here’s what made our list:

1. President Obama footwear. A pair of flip-flops that feature toe straps brimming with the beaming likeness of our commander and chief fashioned out of plastic.

2. London nail clippers. Finally, you can combine two of your favorite activities: clipping your toenails and loving London!

3. Winter Down Under. Enjoy this typical Australian scene with kangaroos bouncing along in a blizzard underneath the desert sun.

4. Bermuda socks. You don’t want to wear one of those in-your-face, look-at-me-I’ve-been-to-Bermuda T-shirts. You have to be more subtle about it.

5. Canned fog from San Francisco. Crack open a can of SF fog and let the same magical silver cloud that shrouds the Golden Gate Bridge help with all your vital fogging needs.

What's the tackiest souvenir you've ever purchased or received?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Festive fundraising ideas for our travelers

Holidays are the perfect time to raise funds for the ultimate gift: An educational adventure of a lifetime. To aid our students in their fundraising endeavors, we’ve created new tools to ease their efforts.

E-cards make it simple for family and friends to give the gift of travel. Students can email as many E-cards as they like and customize their message to share fundraising goals and highlight the amazing destination they’ll be visiting. The email recipients can easily make a donation directly to the student’s trip account.

A fundraising calendar provides great inspiration and can help maintain momentum through the year. Planning is key to meeting your fundraising goals and what could be better than a tried and true idea for every month? December is a great month to hold an event. Caroling, bake sales, Christmas trees, oh my!

Packing lists are chock-full of good gifts. Don’t have a pair of waterproof, closed-toe shoes for that night hike through the rainforest? Check off the items you have and note what you need. Sometimes, it’s more meaningful for friends and family to give a gift that’s tangible and useful instead of money. Travel gifts can be used long after the gift wrap is torn away.

Enrolled students have access to these great tools in their Travel Center.

What kind of travel gift would you like?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

5 insanely spectacular plunge waterfalls

Plunge waterfalls are waterfalls that drop vertically while losing contact with the underlying cliff face, or bedrock, behind them. They often make for great spectacles as they plummet over sheer drops in breathtaking torrents—and the views from the top are dizzying to say the least! For your wonderment, here are 5 stunning waterfalls from around the world.

1. Havasu Falls
One of the most visited falls in the Grand Canyon, Havasu Falls leaps spectacularly over a 120-foot vertical cliff. The water is highly mineralized, and its erosive powers cause the occasional division of the falls into two chutes as well as having created the blue-green pools below.

2. Waireinga Falls
Located along the Pakoka River in New Zealand, this magnificent plunge waterfall is 180 feet high and over time has caused a large pool to form at its base.

3. La Fortuna Waterfall
Running through the rainforest in Costa Rica, the Tenorio River feeds this marvelous plunge waterfall. It is 230 to 246 feet high and is found at the base of the Chato volcano.

4. Whangarei Falls
The Hatea River in New Zealand plunges 85 feet at Whangarei Falls. It was considered such a special spot that in the 1920s the land was bought to prevent its being exploited, and in 1946 it was purchased on behalf of the local citizens.

5. Angel Falls
Feeding into the Kerep River, Angel Falls in Venezuela is not only the highest plunge waterfall in the world but the highest waterfall of any kind. It is 3,212 feet at its tallest point, while the longest drop itself plunges 2,648 feet. In the local Pemon language, the waterfall’s name means "waterfall of the deepest place," or "the fall from the highest point."

What do these amazing waterfalls all have in common? Most are located in places visited by Discovery Student Adventures. Do you have a favorite waterfall you’ve visited?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving’s cultural cousins

Autumn festivals, including American Thanksgiving, East Asian Mid-Autumn Festival and Jewish Sukkot, celebrate family and the Earth's bounty in similar ways despite cultural differences. Of those three, Thanksgiving is the newcomer. The Pilgrims celebrated a harvest festival with the Native Americans in 1621. And their ancient Anglo-Saxon ancestors also celebrated autumn harvest festivals.

But Thanksgiving wasn't an official annual event until 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed, “...set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

Thanksgiving was new, but may have had an ancient inspiration in Leviticus, a holy book to both Jews and Christians. In Leviticus 23:39, God commanded the ancient Israelites to observe the Feast of Booths, Sukkot in Hebrew, after crops were gathered.

During sukkot, celebrated this year from Oct. 12-19, observers worship, eat and even sleep in a sukkah, a flimsy booth representing the temporary structures the Israelites used after fleeing Egypt.

The celebration of the Mid-Autumn, or Moon Festival in China, Taiwan, Vietnam and other East Asian countries, also involves food and family and friends. During the Mid-Autumn festival, people come back home to be with their family. It's one of the biggest holidays in eastern Asia.

What are you most thankful for this holiday season?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

10 mind-bending facts about the universe

From neutron stars to multiple dimensions to life on other planets, here are cool facts about the universe that might make your brain hurt.

1. The universe contains around 50,000,000,000 galaxies, each of which has between 100,000,000,000 and 1,000,000,000,000 stars.

2. At the speed of light, time stops.

3. Dark matter makes up 83 percent of the matter in the universe, but we can’t see it and we don’t know what it is.

4. Time passes more slowly in orbit around the earth meaning returning astronauts arrive home slightly younger than if they had spent the same amount of time on earth.

5. Atoms are 99.9999999999999999% empty space meaning all the matter making up the entire human race could fit into a sugar cube.

6. Just a thimbleful of a neutron star would weigh over 100 million tons.

7. Sagittarius 3, an interstellar gas cloud, contains a billion, billion, billion liters of alcohol.

8. The most powerful explosions ever witnessed in the universe are gamma-ray bursts that are trillions of times brighter than our sun.

9. In quantum physics causality can work backwards meaning our choices in the present can effectively determine what occurred in the past.

10. According to some models of cosmology, there are an infinite number of universes with an infinite number of people.

Source: MSN news

Do you think life exists beyond our world?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5 of the best quirky and unusual museums in the U.S.

A good museum can inspire, educate, and keep weary travelers dry and toasty-warm on rainy days. Unfortunately, even the best museums can also overwhelm with impenetrable sizes, high admissions, and endless crowds. That’s why many smart travelers steer clear of major museums and seek out for smaller galleries. The following is a quirky collection of 5 of the best small, unusual, and underrated museums in the United States.

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum – Alexandria, Virginia
Entering this tiny museum is like traveling back in time; after operating for generations as a family-owned pharmacy, the shop suddenly closed during the 1940s Depression. It has since been meticulously restored and preserved, with original wooden shelving, antiquated signage, and assortments of glass jars and beakers that haven’t been touched in decades. Local volunteers conduct short but informative tours, regaling visitors with tales of colonial-era “medicine”, such as bloodletting. A particularly gruesome procedure, it was thought to cure a number of illnesses and was famously favored by George Washington.

The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza – Dallas, Texas
For American history buffs and conspiracy theorists alike, the Sixth Floor Museum might prove to be morbidly irresistible. The museum is devoted to the life and death (but mostly the death) of President John F. Kennedy. The exhibits begin innocently enough. An audio tour guides visitors through a generic pathway of informative panels and video clips, describing JFK’s childhood, rise to political fame, election to president, and first years in office. Suddenly, though, the narrative becomes very specific about the President’s 1963 visit to Texas, the events taking place on the morning of November 22, and his motorcade ride through the streets of Dallas.

The Center for Wooden Boats – Seattle, Washington
Where else could you take a museum’s historic artifacts out onto the water for a pleasure cruise? The CWB, as it’s informally known, is dedicated to maritime preservation, but they aren’t interested in merely restoring historic vessels to put on display (although the center does house a small, more traditional boating museum). Rather, they hold workshops, community outreach programs, and free Sunday sails, all intended to get people out on the water. Their mission passing down the love and knowledge of small craft sailing.

National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel – Memphis, Tennessee
There’s little arguing that this museum is well worth a somber and reflective visit. This is not a place for housing attractive works of art or flashy multimedia displays. There are educational panels tracing the narrative of the civil rights movement, from the pre-Civil War days to the Birmingham public transport strike sparked by Rosa Parks, but they are simple text-and-photo panels. The chills come upon entering the portion of the museum encased in Room 306, where King was staying on April 4, 1968, the day of his assassination on the motel balcony.

Cable Car Museum – San Francisco, California
For those who really want to appreciate the mechanical marvel and historical significance of these old-fashioned trolleys, the Cable Car Museum should not be missed. First and foremost, the building is home to the working powerhouse of the entire cable car system. In addition to the requisite historic plaques and photographs, visitors to the Cable Car Museum are invited to watch the inner workings of the transportation system. Gigantic, noisy engines and wheels power the cables pulling the cars up and down the streets of San Francisco.

When is the last time you visited a museum?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Polar bears put on a show in Manitoba

Tucked away in the Canadian province of Manitoba for several weeks each autumn is the largest wild polar bear concentration in the world. An estimated 1,000 or so polar bears gather near the small town of Churchill, waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze over so they can hunt seals and other marine mammals. That represents about 5% of the world’s population of these majestic animals, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

This annual migration provides tourists, photographers, and scientists from around the world the unique opportunity to view polar bears up close and personal.

Each summer, the ice melts on Hudson Bay, forcing polar bears ashore. Once on land, without access to seals and other marine mammals, the bears enter a state known as walking hibernation. They live off their fat reserves and spend most of the summer resting and conserving energy, according to wildlife experts.

Some polar bears will roam up to 900 miles along the coast in search of food, such as berries, grasses and kelp, but these don't meet their nutritional needs.

As autumn approaches, the bears migrate back to the Churchill region, where the annual freeze-up occurs sooner than elsewhere. As soon as the bay freezes, they scatter across the ice to hunt. The bears catch their prey from the surface of the sea ice. They remain there until the ice melts in summer and then the cycle repeats itself.

The U.S. Geological Survey projects that two-thirds of polar bears will disappear by the year 2050, as climate change melts sea ice.

Are you concerned that polar bears may someday become extinct?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BOO! 5 super-scary places to surrender your scream

Just in time for Halloween … Are you ready for an adventure steeped with spooks? These places combine the thrill of an historical experience with a slight taste of down-right spine-chilling spooky. The U.S. offers a wealth of frightening parks, haunted houses and creepy attractions. Consider, for example, these scary spots.

1. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. One of the most famous battles of the Civil War was fought here. While visiting the park and memorial, guests have reported armies marching in step. Others have reported sad ghostly wives looking for their spouses who had fallen during battle. You can explore Gettysburg with Discovery Student Adventures. We’ll leave the haunts behind!

2. St. Augustine, Florida. This quaint historic city was the first Spanish settlement in the United States. The Castillo De San Marco is a famous tourist attraction in the oldest city where hauntings supposedly take place. Reported spooky areas of the castle include the watch tower and the dungeon.

3. Jonesboro, Arkansas. Jonesboro is the largest city in Northeast Arkansas, bordering the Ozark mountains. While visiting local Craig’s Lake, beware of the ghost of a person who drowned while swimming with three teenage friends. He is often spotted swimming in the water, yelling for help.

4. Asheville, North Carolina. Called the Paris of the south, Asheville is home to the famous Biltmore House that supposedly still houses the occupants’ ghosts. George W. Vanderbilt and his wife Edith, are often heard throughout the mansion. His wife can still be heard in the library, softly talking to her husband.

5. San Antonio, Texas. San Antonio is known as the home of the Alamo. Nearby Mission San Jose has a romantic ghost story – a stonemason fell in love with a maiden while constructing the mission. She fell ill and after dying, the stonemason built a rose window with a memorial in honor of her. If you are lucky, you can catch sight of her in the window.
Do you believe in real-life haunted houses?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ping pong-playing robots make their debut

Robots are already taking away jobs at factories. Now, it appears, they're ready to rule the table tennis court, too. Two ping pong-playing humanoid robots named Wu and Kong recently debuted at Zhejiang University in China where they showed off their skills in front of engineers and journalists. The twin 5 foot, 3 inch, 121 pound robots have 30 individually-powered joints, giving them an impressive range of motion. Each arm, for example, can move seven directions, according to the university's description.

Key to their ability to serve and return balls with forehands, backhands, and stoic focus are eye-mounted cameras that predict the path of the ball so the robot get can ready for the next shot.

Each camera captures 120 images per second, which are transferred to the robots' processors that calculate the balls' position, speed, angle, landing position and path, the Xinhuanet news agency reports.

It takes 50 to 100 milliseconds for the robots to respond and their ability to predict the balls' landing position has a margin of error of just less than an inch.

Friday, October 7, 2011

That's one MONSTER croc!

A hunting team in the southern Philippines caught a 21-foot crocodile in September that weighs a whopping 2,370 pounds and is estimated to be at least 50 years old. It is believe to be the largest reptile of its kind ever captured. It took roughly 100 people to pull the beast from a creek by rope and then hoist it by crane onto a truck.

Villagers suspect the animal of fatally attacking a farmer in the town of Bunwan, as well as a 12-year-old girl who was killed in 2009. But villagers are not resting easy just yet. They are not certain this is the man-eater, because there have been sightings of other crocodiles in the area.

In fact, local residents believe there may be an even bigger crocodile that could be the culprit. The local government in Bunwan said that it would not kill the animal and would instead establish a nature park where tourists could visit the enormous animal.

Are you surprised that this crocodile’s life is being spared?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Barcelona says adios to bullfighting

Centuries of toreador history recently ended in Barcelona, when Spain's northeast region of Catalonia held its last bullfight after voting to stop the practice. But the bullfighting ban in fiercely independent Catalonia remains controversial.

Some critics charge that the move—the second in Spain, after the Canary Islands outlawed the fights in 1991—was tied more to Catalan nationalism than concern for animal rights. Throughout Spain, the younger generation calls it murder, but still sees matadors as icons and related events like "bull running" still draw thousands of tourists.

Bullfighting is also popular in southern France, Mexico (one Mexico City ring seats 48,000 people) and some South American countries, including Colombia and Peru. In Ecuador, voters approved a controversial May referendum to outlaw the spectacles, though the ban has not yet been put into effect.

Even in Spain, the number of fights has fallen by a third over the past three years as the residential construction bubble burst and Spanish town halls, which funded many fights, lost income from building licenses.

Should bull fighting be universally banned around the world?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crews scale Washington Monument checking for earthquake damage

A team of engineers recently rappelled down the sides of the Washington Monument looking for damage caused by a rare earthquake that hit the East Coast in August. Crews exited the iconic monument from windows at the 500-foot level and scaled to the top to do a very close visual inspection. They were conducting an inventory of cracks sustained during the earthquake to determine whether those cracks could, in the next couple of years, grow.

The heaviest damage appears to be concentrated at the very top of the monument, in what is called the pyramidion, where large cracks of up to 1-1/4 inch wide developed through stone and mortar joints, according to officials with the National Mall and Memorial Parks. Daylight is visible through some of the cracks, and rain water has gotten into the monument, which could cause further damage.

The difficult-access rappelling team scaled the outside of the structure to get a closer look. They installed climbing ropes and safety lines on all four sides, then clipped onto those lines. They climbed up the pyramidion and then descended the length of the monument looking for exterior damage.

The Washington Monument, built between 1848 and 1884, is 555 feet tall. Its walls, 15-feet thick at the base and 18-inches at the top, are composed primarily of white marble blocks, according to the Park Service.

On a journey to Washington, D.C. with Discovery Student Adventures, which famous landmark would you most like to explore?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Great white shark numbers dwindling

The world’s most feared fish may have something to fear itself: Its own demise. Far fewer white sharks are cruising the waters off California than previously thought, according to a new study. Counting the great white sharks was a hands-on activity. Researchers went out into the Pacific Ocean in small boats to places where great white sharks congregate, and lured the massive predators into photo range using a seal-shaped decoy on a fishing line.

From 321 photographs of the uniquely jagged edges of the sharks' dorsal fins, researchers identified 131 individual sharks. From these data, they used statistical methods to estimate that there are 219 great white sharks in the region.

The study, published in the journal Biology Letters, is the first rigorous scientific estimate of white shark numbers in the northeast Pacific Ocean, and represents one of the best estimates among the world's three known white-shark populations.

Great white sharks also live in the waters around Australia and New Zealand, and off the coast of South Africa.

Shark species around the globe have suffered steep declines in recent years. As many as one-third of the world's sharks and other cartilaginous fishes are threatened, and shark numbers along the United States eastern seaboard have plummeted, some species by as much as 90 percent. Great white sharks are classified as "vulnerable" by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, but relatively little is known about the elusive species.

Is enough being done to protect the great white shark population?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The world’s most spectacular vistas

It’s long been said the beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What’s stunning to one person may lack significant appeal to another. That may be, but when it comes to spectacular global destinations, it’s hard imagine anybody could deny the beauty of these jaw-dropping vistas.

Milford Sound

The Maori attribute the creation of the New Zealand fjords, such as Milford Sound, to Tute Rakiwhanoa, who cut the steep-sided valleys with his adze. What other explanation could there be for these spectacularly steep, sheer cliffs that rise nearly vertically from the ocean?


Also known as Ayers Rock, Uluru is a large rock formation in the National Park Uluru-Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory of Australia. Uluru is sacred to the Aṉangu, the Aboriginal people of the area. The area around the formation is home to a plethora of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings.

The Dolomites

Swiss architect Le Corbusier called Italy's Dolomites les plus belle architectures du monde (the most beautiful architectures on Earth); indeed, the Italian mountain range speaks to the power of nature. The Dolomites comprise many types of rock, some of which eroded spectacularly, leaving seemingly delicate pinnacles, some of which formed tightly compact peaks and some of which formed from cooling lava.

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon can easily overwhelm our imaginations with its daunting size: A mile deep, 277 river miles long and 18 miles across at its widest. But it can immediately deliver serenity with its solid magnificence; it is a powerful landscape at any time of the day, but most inspiring at sunset and sunrise when the canyon walls color and fade.

Cliff of Moher

As if shot from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, the massive Cliffs of Moher make the edge of Ireland appear to have been sheared off by giants a long time ago. One of the country's most popular attractions, the Cliffs of Moher attract a million visitors each year and provide a home for millions of nesting sea birds.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Study tips to start your school year off on the right foot

Whether you're eagerly jumping into the school year with both feet, or just wondering where your summer went, good study habits can make all the difference. From writing an English paper to reviewing algebra problems, there are a few key elements every successful student needs to include in a study plan.

Make-a-difference study tips:

1. Develop a time management plan. It is not the amount of time you spend studying that matters. It's what you accomplish during that time. Spending 40 hours to prepare for and exam and only earning a C clearly was a waste of your time. Develop a study plan and learn how to manage your time effectively to maximize results.

2. Be self-motivated. If your are not motivated or have a poor attitude, our study session will not be as productive. Pick a time of day where you can get motivated to prepare for tests, write essays, or solve problems.

3. Focus, focus,focus. The ability to concentrate is one of the more important study skills you need to develop. Learn how to overcome distractions so you can focus all your attention on your studies.

4.When in doubt, ask. If you aren't sure about a particular topic, don't be shy. Ask your instructor, family, or friend for help. It is important to address the problem area as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will end up having to spend even more time studying to catch up.

What study tip works best for you?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Tweet, tweet! 5 ways Twitter has changed education

Hard to believe that Twitter turned 5 earlier this year. Billions of tweets later, the microblogging platform has changed the way many of us communicate and get information online. The real-time communication provided by Twitter has had profound implications for education, and while it may not be fully integrated into everyone’s academic toolbox yet, it is finding a place there more and more.

Here’s a list of the 5 ways in which Twitter has changed (and probably still can change) education:

1. BRINGS THE WORLD INTO THE CLASSROOM: Internet resources like Twitter give students access to information — more importantly, perhaps — to people beyond the classroom walls. Students can post inquiries online and receive responses in real- or near real-time.

2. HELPS COMMUNICATION BETWEEN SCHOOL AND HOME: A Twitter account for a school or a teacher can be another means (and a paperless one at that) to communicate information to parents on things like events, school closures, and deadlines.

3. GIVES EDUCATORS REAL-TIME PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Rather than waiting for school-sanctioned events and rather than having to locate experts on their own, Twitter gives educators access to a vast social network of other like-minded professionals

4. CREATES CUSTOMIZED PROFESSIONAL NETWORK: It isn’t just educators that are using Twitter to expand their access to experts. Twitter has become a key tool for creating personal learning networks, enabling anyone to build their own connections with other Twitter users, sharing learning resources and support.

5. CAPTURES CONVERSATIONS: The twitters in the back of the classroom used to be seen as distractions and disruptions. By using Twitter, many educators are finding ways to capture these “backchannel” conversations, harnessing rather than silencing conversations that occur during lectures and presentations by taking instant polls and asking for feedback through Twitter.

Has Twitter changed anything about your life at school?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Back to school: Top iPhone apps for students

The new school year is just around the corner and that means the smell of erasers and chalk dust will soon be filling classrooms everywhere. But that’s so old school. A rapidly growing number of web and mobile applications are helping students tackle the tasks of obtaining an education. Check out some of these useful apps for students.

5 must-have iPhone applications for students headed back to school

iStudiez Pro. This application keeps track of your entire class schedule and assignments. From detailed, color-coded class schedules (the color coding makes the whole thing very easy to scan) to the ability to attach assignments to each course that shows up on the calendar and when they’re due, iStudiez Pro is a must-have companion to busy students.

Evernote. If you plan at all on using your iPhone for taking notes in class, you’ll want to utilize Evernote. The free application supports text, photo, and voice notes, and syncs to an online account, as well as Mac and PC versions of the app so you can have access to your notes anywhere. Evernote has some really nifty features, such as Twitter integration, geo-location, and the ability to search text within photos.

Cram. Got a big test coming up? You’ll want to check out Cram. Cram is a study tool on which users can create flash cards and multiple choice tests (with automatically randomized answers). These study aids can be shared with friends and synced to the offline Mac OS version.

Wikipedia. This application provides on-the-go, mobile optimized access to Wikipedia articles. Though Wikipedia should probably not be used as a primary source in any academic paper, it is a great starting point for deeper research, and the Wikipedia iPhone app lets you search the encyclopedia whenever an idea strikes you.

myHomework. The free myHomework app is a visually stunning iPhone application that helps students stay organized by creating a calendar of assignments and when they’re due. Assignments are color coded, so you’ll know when due dates are coming and when they’re late. The app doesn’t do much more than that, but it is helpful for keeping overloaded students on top of their work.

What other iPhone applications are helpful to you at school?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Strange items in America’s ‘attic’

It's been 165 years since Congress passed an act to establish the Smithsonian Institution. Dubbed the 'Nation's Attic' (or 'America's Attic'), it has since become a prolific entity. We decided to go looking for some of the more eccentric items collected by the Smithsonian, many of which are currently on view. You may get to see some of these when you visit Washington, D.C., with Discovery Student Adventures.

5 cool, albeit odd things you can see at the Smithsonian.

  • Crash-test dummies. Vince and Larry endured countless crashes and made some funny commercials to get people to wear their seatbelts. The gear from the famous duo was donated to this museum.
  • Dorothy’s ruby slippers. There's no place like home, at the Smithsonian. The iconic shoes from 'The Wizard of Oz', are one of this museum's main attractions. The glittering red slippers are worn around the edges, a reminder of all the clicking and dancing they endured.
  • Teddy Roosevelt’s teddy bear. This prized possession is the original teddy bear, given to this president after a particular bear-hunting story made its way around. The incident also inspired a popular political cartoon.
    Harry Truman’s bowling pin. President Harry Truman had a two-lane bowling alley installed in the White House and helped create a White House bowling league.
  • ‘Star Trek’ phaser. Trekkies will delight in seeing weaponry from the classic '60s TV show at this museum.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

5 ways the London 2012 Olympics is going green

It’s being celebrated as the “greenest” Olympics ever, and organizers are beaming about innovations that will cut the carbon footprint of the entire project by 50 percent. Everything is being designed for low carbon emissions, low waste and green transportation. Discovery Student Adventures will be in London next year and our travelers will help make history by assisting in a conservation project for the Olympics.

In a nutshell, here are the environmentally friendly schemes organizers have planned:

• At the Olympic village, carbon emissions will be cut down by 50% and the entire project will be 25% more energy-efficient, compared to current building regulations
• 20% of the required energy for the Olympic Village and Park will be provided by renewable energy
• 20% of the construction materials, and around 90% of the demolished buildings will be recycled or reused
• Water used at the Olympic village will be 20% less than average
• 10 miles of new routes for walking and 30 miles of new cycling tracks will be built

What conservation methods to you practice to help keep our world green?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Bizarre sea life lurking in our oceans

They're weird in good ways, and they're weird in bad ways. But most importantly, they're just WEIRD. And frankly, it would be totally selfish not sharing them. So put on your snorkel, goggles, and flippers, and hit the water with us to check out the absolute weirdest (but coolest!) sea creatures.

Blobfish. This fish is the weirdest looking sea creature ever. What's worse is that this animal is just as lazy as it looks and sounds; it barely expends any energy even eating, making sure it gobbles up whatever just happens to be floating by at the moment.

Axoloti. Axolotls are like the cute anime pet you never had but always wanted, because you saw it on a deck of Pokémon cards. Tack onto that the ability to completely regenerate any dangling limb, and you've got yourself a real live Tamigachi!

Frilled shark. The frilled shark is not your typical shark, judging by looks alone. It closely resembles an eel—so much so that it's mistaken for an eel quite often, and the only real distinguishing features are its signature six gill slits.

Anglefish. We'll say it, and we'll say it without fear: anglefishes are ugly. There, we said it. They are disgusting bottom-dwellers, and if that isn't the lowest of the low, they also have a spine that doubles as bait for prey.

Leafy sea dragon. The Leafy Sea Dragon is one of the few sea creatures with its own built-in camouflage. The tiny fins that are used to propel our leafy friend forward are impossible to see, giving the illusion that you are merely watching seaweed lazily float by.

What’s the strangest sea creature you’ve ever encountered?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

5 fabulous world-famous attractions

The world is full of extraordinary places that many of us will never get to visit. Some of these attractions would undoubtedly create a lifetime of memories. So what are the world’s most famous attractions? While this may be a subjective question, we decided to name a few of our favorites. Fans of Discovery Student Adventures will see some familiar places and iconic landmarks.

1) The Acropolis, Athens, Greece
This place is a collection of three temples portraying the Greek Goddess Athena. Construction took 9 years and was completed in 439BC. It is one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

2) The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower has been France’s greatest symbol ever and will be the most visited structures in the world. It features an incredible observation wing that gives such a beautiful view of Paris.

3) The Peak Tram, Victoria Peak, Hong Kong
The Peak Tram is a wonderful ride which takes passengers through the spectacular view of the whole city. This railway has been running since its opening in 1881.

4) The London Dungeon, London, England
The London Dungeon is one of the most popular attractions in the UK. It features gruesome and scenes that travel through the history of the UK, including the Great Fire of London and the awful acts that were committed by Jack the Ripper.

5) L’Aquarium De Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
L’Aquarium De Barcelona is Europe’s largest aquarium. It contains some of the best Mediterranean sea life. It is both fascinating and entertaining for people of all ages.

What global attraction not listed here would you most like to see in person?

Friday, July 15, 2011

The 5 weirdest things ever flown on the Space Shuttle

When NASA's space shuttles launch into orbit, they don't just carry astronauts and supplies into the final frontier. There's a lot of other weird stuff that makes the out-of-this-world journey, too. NASA's final space shuttle mission launched July 8. The mission was the 135th and last flight for the program, which began in 1981. Read on for 9 space oddities carried into orbit on NASA shuttles.

1. Cans of Coca-Cola & Pepsi In 1985, special modified cans of Coca-Cola and Pepsi soda rode aboard the space shuttle Challenger on its STS-51F mission. The trip added more fuel to the so-called "Cola Wars" between the Coca-Cola Company and Pepsi, Co.

2. The New York Mets' Home Plate In 2009, as the New York Mets organization prepared to move its baseball team into the new Citi Field in Queens, N.Y., a piece of hardware from the team's old home, Shea Stadium, made a special trip into space. On May 11, 2009, the home plate from Shea Stadium launched into orbit on the space shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission— the last trip to the Hubble Space Telescope.

3. Buzz Lightyear – To Infinity and Beyond!
As part of an educational and public outreach mission, NASA teamed up with Disney to launch an action figure of the beloved character Buzz Lightyear, from Disney-Pixar's film "Toy Story," into space. A 12-inch-tall Buzz flew to the International Space Station on Discovery's STS-124 mission in May 2008.

4. Luke Skywalker's Lightsaber
Fans of the iconic "'Star Wars" films celebrated a moment where fiction met reality, when a lightsaber prop from the sci-fi movies flew on the space shuttle Discovery's STS-120 mission. The lightsaber's flight was of particular interest to one STS-120 crew member, a self-described big 'Star Wars' fan who also woke during the mission to the theme from the movies.

5. Dirt from Yankee StadiumA vial of dirt from the pitcher's mound at Yankee Stadium, the home of Major League Baseball's New York Yankees, flew on the space shuttle Endeavour's STS-123 mission in 2008. Astronaut Garrett Reisman , a fervent Yankee fan, brought the small container of dirt with him, along with other mementos of his favorite team, including a banner and hat autographed by George Steinbrenner, who was the principal owner of the team for 37 years, from 1973 to his death in July 2010.

What do you think the future holds for our space program. Perhaps a journey to Mars?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Still thriving after all these years: The world’s oldest cities

At 498 years old, St Augustine, Florida, is the oldest continuously settled city in the U.S. In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon took possession of the territory. Compared with other cities around the world, however, St. Augustine is just a baby. Paris, for example, celebrates its 2060th birthday in July. Let's take a look at some of the oldest cities worldwide.

Paris, France. Earliest inhabitation: 250 B.C.

While this modern-day city celebrates its birthday this month, it was actually inhabited many years earlier by the Celtic tribe Parisii.

Athens, Greece. Earliest inhabitation: 1400 B.C.

Considered the cradle of Western civilization, this history-rich metropolis is the birthplace of a modern form of government and hosted the inaugural modern-day Olympics in 1896.

Cadiz, Spain. Earliest inhabitation: 1100 B.C.

Located on a land spit in the south of Spain, this ancient city was the principal trading post for its founding tribe, Phoenicia. Currently this seaside city is home to a Spanish military branch.

Jurusalem, Israel. Earliest in habitation: 2800 B.C.

The spiritual center for believers of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, this holy city has been captured 44 times and destroyed twice throughout its tumultuous history.

Libson, Portugal. Earliest in habitation: 1200 B.C.

This densely populated capital city boasts a rich history and is recognized as the wealthiest region in Portugal.

Which of these cities would you most like to visit? Why?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Endangered animals we should worry most about

Throughout history, many species of animals have gradually disappeared from the Earth. Unfortunately, this process of extinction seems to be accelerating, as there are many endangered species today than ever before and experts give warning that their number is on the rise. Several manmade factors are pushing animals towards extinction; climate change, hunting and poaching, loss of habitat, pollution and a changing environment are among the most common.

5 animals closest to extinction

Believe it or not, this fearsome predator, revered by man for its power and beauty, is threatened with extinction. Apparently there are only about 3,200 tigers left in the entire world. Three subspecies are already extinct and the other 6 are all facing the same danger. Why? Poaching is one major factor and destruction of their habitat by deforestation is the other.

Polar Bears
If the climate continues to warm at the current rate, the polar bear, one of the most beloved species in the world, will soon face extinction. Although at present the population of polar bears is relatively stable, it will soon start decreasing if the trend of global warming is not reversed.

The Pacific Walrus
In the same boat (if only they had boats) as the Polar Bear, the melting of ice in the Arctic poses a threat to the habitat of this species
and places it in danger of extinction.

Magellanic Penguin
Climate change is again the reason why this species is threatened to disappear. The migration of fish caused by warming currents makes it harder for them to find food and could result in the extinction of the magellanic penguin.

Leatherback Turtle
Although the species has survived for over 100 million years, these marine turtles, which live in the Pacific, are now on the brink of extinction. This is because, having to face numerous threats, many of their offspring won't be able to reach maturity.

Are you surprised any of these animals made the list?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Modern engineering marvels

You've read about or (if you're lucky enough) seen the Great Wall of China, the pyramids of Egypt and Machu Picchu. Let’s shift our attention from the classic depictions of man-made marvels to more modern engineering feats. You can experience two of these marvels—the Channel Tunnel and National Stadium—on a journey with Discovery Student Adventures. Come explore!

The Channel Tunnel
Also called the Chunnel, this massive throughway connects Folkestone, England, with Conquelles, France, via 31.4 miles of undersea rail. At its lowest point, it is 250 feet deep. The Channel Tunnel possesses the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world, although the Seikan Tunnel in Japan is both longer overall at 33.46 mles and deeper at 790 feet below sea level.

National Stadium
This modern architectural feat was designed as a football (soccer, to Americans) and track & field venue for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. Dubbed the "Bird's Nest" for its likeness, the stadium can seat a whopping 91,000 spectators. The design for the stadium was based on Chinese ceramics.

Oasis of the Seas
Oasis of the Seas is the largest passenger ship in the world. At 1,181 feet, Oasis is 69 feet longer than the prior largest passenger ship, the Independence of the Seas and classmates. Oasis also is 28 feet wider, and with a gross tonnage of 225,286, is almost 45% larger. The ship cost $1.24 billion to build.

Akashi Kaikyo Suspension Bridge
The longest suspension bridge in the world, Akashi Kaikyo isn't just massive; it's also visually stunning. Also known as the Pearl Bridge, it has the longest central span of any suspension bridge, at 6,532 feet. The bridge links the city of Kobe on the mainland of Honshū to Iwaya on Awaji Island by crossing the busy Akashi Strait. It carries part of the Honshū-Shikoku Highway.

San Alofonso del Mar
San Alfonso del Mar is a private resort located in Algarrobo, Chile, about 60 miles west of the capital Santiago. It is notable for having the Guinness world record for the largest and deepest swimming pool in the world. The pool covers nearly 20 acres and has as much water as 6,000 regular swimming pools.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

America's most endangered historic places

A Civil War fort, a Colonial-era farm and a 1,000-square-mile swath of northwestern New Mexico. What could such disparate destinations have in common? Sadly, their one shared characteristic is that they all made the latest edition of America’s Most Endangered Places.

This year’s Endangered Historic Places include:

Bear Butte, Meade County, S.D.: Considered sacred ground by as many as 17 Native American tribes, this 4,426-foot mountain is threatened by proposed energy-development projects that officials say “will negatively impact the sacred site and further degrade the cultural landscape.”
Belmead-on-the-James, Powhatan County, Va.: This one-time slave-holding plantation became a school for African-American boys in 1893. Closed in 1970, the Gothic Revival manor house and other buildings are in need of emergency repair.
China Alley, Hanford, Calif.: Brick facades and Asian detailing create a unique atmosphere in this once-bustling Chinatown, which dates back to 1877. Today, it suffers from disuse, deterioration and insensitive development.
Fort Gaines, Dauphin Island, Ala.: Established in 1821, this fort played a major role in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War. Today, it’s under siege by tides and currents, which are eroding its shoreline by as much as 50 feet per year.
Greater Chaco Landscape, N.M.: This 1,000-square-mile swath of northwestern New Mexico is home to hundreds of Native American cultural and archeological sites. It’s threatened by increased oil and gas exploration in the area.

Is there any place in America that would make your endangered historic places list?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Green travel really taking off

Travelers around the world are increasingly taking "eco-friendliness" into consideration when they hit the road or take to the skies. A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. hoteliers showed that 70% plan to reduce their impact on the environment this year as a way to attract travelers. Another study found that 47% of travelers now take eco-friendly factors into account when making travel plans.

A study in the U.K. showed travelers place the highest priorities on these green factors:

1. Separating and reducing waste 77.9%
2. Saving water and energy 77.5%
3. Increased use of public transport 66.7%
4. Booking of environmentally friendly accommodation 53.6%
5. Traveling via the most eco-friendly mode of transport 45.3%

Do you "Think Green" when you travel?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ahhhh ... Australia welcomes nation's first home-born Galapagos tortoise

This little guy's got a lot of growing up to do! Galapagos tortoises are known for their massive size. Males can grow up to six feet long from head to tail and weigh more than 500 pounds. At one month old, this hatchling is a mere three inches long and weighs just three ounces.

It takes between 20 and 25 years for the species to reach full size and sexual maturity. Adult tortoises have been known to live more than 150 years, according to the San Diego Zoo.

Galapagos tortoises rose to fame through Charles Darwin, who identified that each subspecies of Galapagos tortoise has unique physical traits that helps it thrive, depending on the climate and conditions on the different Galapagos Islands.

The giant, slow-moving tortoises were food for early explorers and sailors to the islands. This custom combined with the introduction of non-native species, such as dogs and cats, that prey on turtle eggs contributed to a decline in population, according to the San Diego Zoo, which has one of the largest breeding programs in the world for the Galapagos tortoise.

There are between 10,000 to 15,000 Galapagos tortoises living in the wild. Thanks to recent conservation efforts, there has been an increase in the population. They are listed as a "vulnerable species" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Name game: What do you think is the perfect name for this baby tortoise?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

10 top inventions for 2011

Year after year, we see a lot of remarkable things come out of people’s garages. Some are designed to treat the sick or save the planet. Others are simply fun to play with. But no matter what the purpose, the brilliance of the inventions and the dedication of the individuals behind them are always inspiring. Read on for a look at this year’s coolest inventions.

The Stark Hand
Created by Mark Stark, The Stark Hand prototype provides an ingenious, comfortable, and very inexpensive alternative to the hook his friend Dave Vogt had worn all his life. With the new hand, Dave can now catch balls and grip wine glasses.

The BodyGuard
David Brown designed The BodyGuard, a crime-fighting armored glove, as built-in self protection. The demo model has a camera, a wrist mounted stunner and lots of room for future improvements. The idea came to David while talking to his friend, Kevin Costner.

The PrintBrush
Weighing in at less than a pound, Alex Breton's PrintBrush easily fits in a laptop bag and prints on any flat surface, from wood to fabric to plastic. Alex worked on the project for 11 years, but a version with a bonus built-in camera comes out early next year.

The Katal Landing Pad
Aaron Coret and his friend Stephen Slen came up with the Katal Landing Pad after Aaron had a nasty snowboarding accident. The board, which was used during the 2010 Winter Olympics, provides a giant cushioned landing for snowboarders and helps make the sport safer.

Dynamic Eye Sunglasses
Unlike regular sunglasses, Chris Mullin's glasses block glare instantly with liquid crystal lenses that darken the most where the sun's light is the brightest. A particularly sunny commute inspired Mullin's invention.

The Bed Bug Detective Science Built to imitate a dog's nose, the Bed Bug Detective sniffs out bedbugs quickly. Chris Goggin plans to create a model that can detect other pests, too, including mice and cockroaches.

A Prenatal Marker to Screen for Pregnancy Complications
Designed by a college student and his classmates, the Prenatal Screening Kit, or safety pen, helps detect complications in pregnancies at an early stage. The pen will be quite cheap, costing only a third of a cent per use, making it a perfect tool for hospitals in developing nations.

The Zero Liquid Discharge
With a pleasant name for a gross procedure, the Zero Liquid Discharge, or ZLD, completely oxidizes and evaporates sewage from boats, airplanes and RVs. After flash evaporation, the waste leaves as a harmless, odorless aerosol.

Kymera Motorized Body Board
The lightweight Kymera Body Board is Jason Woods's solution for a timeless problem (for lucky people): how to have fun at the lake without the hassle of lugging a boat around. The latest version of his motorized body board hits speeds of 25 mph.

The Medical Mirror
While it can't tell you if you're the fairest of them all, the Medical Mirror can tell you your heart rate, which is probably more valuable in the long run anyway. A webcam behind the mirror captures variations in reflected light on your face, and an algorithm translates that into heartbeats.

What do you think is the coolest invention ever?

Friday, June 3, 2011

10 most photographed places on Earth

There’s truth to the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. But when you’re talking about the world’s most scenic hot spots to shoot, how can you put a new twist on an iconic subject? Read on for a list of the most photographed spots on Earth, and tips on what you can do as a picture-taker to breathe new life into an age-old subject.

No. 10: Amsterdam
Landmark: Dam Square

Created in the 13th century as a dam around the Amstel River, this expansive plaza is now flooded with street performers and tourists (and pigeons). It's hard to capture the frenzied feeling in a wide shot.

Standard shot: Wide, with buildings and lots of space

Tip: Try keeping other people in the frame. There's a natural temptation to shy away from shooting photos of strangers, but including people can give viewers a contextual clue about the relative size of the subject you're photographing. Plus families and groups of travelers can make a space seem more alive.

No. 9: Rome
Landmark: Colosseum

This ancient site is filled with the ghosts of dueling gladiators, tormented prisoners, and slaughtered animals, contained, centuries after the fact, within a stunning framework of Corinthian, Doric, and Ionic columns. It's a gorgeous dichotomy indeed, and it's hard to not want to capture it all.

Standard shot: The structure, in its entirety.

Tip: Take advantage of a natural "frame." The archways at Rome's Colosseum give shape to the photo. Shooting through windows, courtyards, doorways, and other openings can create an appealing inside/outside dynamic.

No. 8: Seattle
Landmark: Space Needle

What began as the symbol of the World's Fair in 1962 has now become the symbol of this supercool city. The 360-degree view from the top is expansive, taking in sights from the Puget Sound to Mount Rainier.

Standard shot: From directly below.

Tip: Create a mirror image. Reflective surfaces are common in urban areas. For a unique take on a classic monument, look around for how an object might be mirrored in a car window, a building's glass front, or the surface of a fountain.

No. 7: Washington, D.C.
Landmark: Lincoln Memorial

This marble memorial to the 16th president—featuring Ionic columns, oil-paint murals, and a 120-ton statue of Abe himself—is a striking part of the National Mall.

Standard shot: The full building, from a distance.

Tip: Put things in "perspective." A straight-on shot is the most obvious one to take of the Lincoln Memorial, as it puts the main subject front and center. But including other objects in the picture, like this $5 bill, adds a creative element of whimsy to what might otherwise be a dime-a-dozen postcard image.

No. 6: Chicago
Landmark: Cloud Gate sculpture

Anish Kapoor's 110-ton bean of stainless steel is the shiny centerpiece of Millennium Park's AT&T Plaza and makes for a striking photo in just about any composition.

Standard shot: A direct shot of the bean, taken from the side.

Tip: Avoid the obvious. Whether it's a sculpture, a person, or a building, you can always walk around your subject to get a different view. In this case, the photographer went underneath the bean sculpture—made of highly polished steel and inspired by liquid mercury—and shot upward for a truly unique view.

No. 5: Los Angeles
Landmark: Hollywood Walk of Fame

Begun in 1960 as a Hollywood marketing tool (with filmmaker Stanley Kramer the first honoree), the series of coral-colored stars was at 2,441 in May 2011 and continues to grow.

Standard shot: One star, shot from above.

Tip: Use distance as a frame of reference. Rather than rush in and snap away, pre-visualize your image, thinking about how to photograph a subject from different directions.

No. 4: Paris
Landmark: Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel's 1889 masterpiece, constructed in celebration of the French Revolution's 100th anniversary, is magnificent at any angle; but why choose one that you can easily find on a postcard?

Standard shot: Full-on, from far away.

Tip: Keep an eye out for unexpected patterns. Most pictures of the Eiffel Tower are taken from a distance. But its detailed iron latticework also captures attention. In general, close-up shots of patterns in architecture help a viewer see iconic attractions with fresh eyes.

No. 3: San Francisco
Landmark: Union Square
The main downtown plaza—used as a rallying site to support troops during the Civil War—is now a mecca for hardcore shopping and people-watching. It's also a great place to hop aboard a cable car.

Standard shot: A wide-angle view of Union Square from the Macy's Building.

Tip: Less is more. A close-up photo can sometimes be as powerful as a wide-angle one. As Belgian fashion designer Dries Van Noten once said: "It's more interesting to have just a picture of a small detail. Then you can dream all the rest around it." Here, a tight shot of a sculpture in the square takes that advice to heart.

No. 2: London
Landmark: Trafalgar Square

John Nash designed and developed this former palace courtyard into a public space in the early 1800s; it has since been further transformed with sculptures, fountains, and staircases, and has become a local hotspot for protests—all worthy subjects for your lens.

Standard shot: A wide-angle shot of the National Gallery and St. Martin-in-the-Fields church.

Tip: Shift direction. Tilt your lens down to get some surprising texture in the foreground of your shot. Here, the photographer juxtaposed an urban icon, St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, with the surface of a Trafalgar Square fountain.

No. 1: New York
Landmark: Empire State Building

Built in one year and 45 days in the midst of the Great Depression, this iconic skyscraper draws about 3.5 million visitors a year to its observatories. On a clear day, you can see as far as Massachusetts, but backward glances at the soaring architecture are pretty seductive, too.

Standard shot: The view of the Empire State Building from the street below.

Tip: Broaden your perspective. Photographing an expected sight from an unexpected place can add a lot to your photo. To get this shot, head 16 blocks north and up 70 floors to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck in Rockefeller Center, where you'll get the best view of the Empire State Building—along with a 360-degree panorama of the city.

What on Earth would be your favorite subject to photograph?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Got the travel bug? Consider these cool getaways

Sometimes, when the travel bug strikes, the only cure is to pack your bags and go. But where to? Here is a list of favorite spots from across the globe. This list includes the most popular places, but we know we can’t include everything, so don't worry if your favorite spot didn't make the cut. Whatever destination you choose, just do this: Dream … and go!

Year after year, the magnetic city of lights draws new travelers to its Eiffel Tower, the Louver, and Notre Dame. So rich in culture. So many unforgettable memories to be made.

Barcelona is one of those unique places that has most everything, from an engaging culture of siestas, Spanish guitar and tapas to an outrageous landscapes.

Bursting with a multiplicity of things to do—touring the Tower of London circling ‘round London Eye, to the Queen outside Buckingham Palace, or enjoying fish'n'chip. Something for everybody.

Washington, D.C.
The country's capital is filled with a huge number of postcard-worthy monuments and buildings. The White House and the Lincoln Memorial are here, and so much more.

What are your summer travel plans?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Simple tips for going green when you travel

Discovery Student Adventures is committed to preserving resources on our trips. With this in mind, we’d like to provide you with some tips to protect the environment and cultures of the places you visit—whether you’re traveling with us, or on your own. Read on for responsible tips to become a sustainable (green) traveler.

Get involved in the local culture and its traditions. Learn and respect the region’s way of life to protect the areas you visit.
Save water during your trip: Tell hotel staff you don’t need linens changed every day, take short showers, don’t leave water running while brushing your teeth.
Save energy: Turn off all lights and appliances, turn down heat or air conditioning when not in your room.
Use environmentally friendly products to generate less waste. For example, try not to use plastic bags; try instead to use reusable bags. Avoid using environmentally hazardous products. Choose recyclable products.
Avoid feeding wild animals. Food processed for human consumption contains ingredients that may cause health problems and make them dependent on food.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Keeping cool in the heat

As summer approaches and temperatures rise, so does the risk of heat-related issues. We are not invincible when it comes to exposing ourselves to heat. This is especially true for summer travelers who may be headed to a climate that’s much warmer than they’re acclimated to. To help prevent heat-related distress, follow these simple tips.

Allow time for heat acclimatization. Gradually increase the duration or intensity of physical activity prior to travel. This process can take up to 14 days to complete.
Take breaks. Be sure to include adequate rest between activities.
Hydrate. Drink plenty of water before, during and after outdoor activities.
Know when to rest. If you’re feeling the symptoms of the heat, listen to your body and slow down.

How do you plan to beat the heat this summer?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

31 years later: remembering an angry volcano

When Mount St. Helens exploded into life on May 18, 1980, it was one of the greatest eruptions ever recorded in North America. Superheated ash, gas and lava devastated the surrounding area and claimed many lives. Since then, scientists have been closely monitoring activity around the volcano, waiting for disaster to strike again. So, what other volcanoes around the world have etched their place in history?

World's largest volcanoes
1. Mount Mazama, Crater Lake, Oregon—Over 6,000 years ago Mount Mazama erupted. Before the explosion the mountain was 12,000 feet high; when it was over it had been replaced by a 1,900-foot deep crater. Crater Lake, famed for its intense blue waters, was made a National Park in 1902.
2. Mount Etna, Sicily—Although Mount Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe, its renown comes from its role in Greek legends. According to Greco-Roman mythology, the giants—the enemies of the gods—were buried beneath Mount Etna. In their efforts to break free, the Giants caused frequent earthquakes around the mountain.
3. Mount Vesuvius, Italy—Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 A.D. covered the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, preserving them for generations to come. The volcano is still active and has had several eruptions—the most deadly being in 1631.
4. Mount Tambora, Indonesia—The largest eruption during the last two centuries, as well as the deadliest volcano in recorded history, Mount Tambora exploded April 10-11, 1815. It killed an estimated 92,000 people. Almost 80,000 of the victims died of starvation brought on by the agricultural devastation in the volcano's wake.
5. Mount Krakatau, Indonesia—On August 27, 1883, Mount Krakatau exploded with such force that it was heard in Australia, over 2,000 miles away. The force of the eruption triggered a series of tsunamis that reached the Hawaiian islands and the coast of South America, killing more than 36,000 people.
Do you recall what you were doing when St.Helens blew its top?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Human “wings” no longer science fiction

Imagine getting up in the morning, strapping on a super-powered jetpack and whisking yourself into the sky and away to your work, school, or play. No traffic lights. No speed limits. No tailgaters. It may not be as far-fetched as you think. A Swiss man recently brought humans a step closer to flying like birds when he soared over the Grand Canyon with a jetpack at speeds of up to 190 mph. That got us thinking. What aerial views could you capture on a Discovery Student Adventure if equipped with a jetpack? We dreamed some up.

Picture these 5 jetpack vistas
Bird’s-eye view of a Costa Rican rainforest. Sure, you can take in some awesome views on a zipline, but this gives a whole new meaning to “insanely cool adventure.”
Rising above the Eiffel Tower. We take you to the top of this iconic landmark, but with wings, you don’t have to scale hundreds of stairs for the awesome views of Paris.
Soaring over the Washington Monument. No crick in your neck from gazing skyward. Just be sure to steer clear of the no-fly zone around the White House.
Peering into the crater of Mt. Vesuvius. Hiking this active volcano on a Discovery Student Adventure in Italy is one thing. Looking down its throat would be simply magic.
Going beyond the Andean Highlands Ecuador. Towering an invigorating altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level, the air at the summit is thin. Better just cruise the perimeter.

Where in the world would you fly to?

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