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  • Chapter 1: European Union


     Imagine going on vacation to Florida. You have to travel through several states in order to reach your destination in Florida. Imagine that as you cross each state line, you must stop, show them your Kentucky ID, let them check ALL your luggage, and exchange your money for the current states money (in case you needed to stop for food or gas while you were traveling through that state). Do you think you would go on vacation often? Probably not. Your once 10 hour trip has turned into a trip that could possibly take you days. 

    This scenario is exactly what happened to countries in the Europe before the creation of the European UnioN. the European Union is a supranational cooperation, where countries have given up some of their control as an independent nation in order to work together on common goals. 

    Europe has a long history of conflict. Centrifugal forces, or forces that divide people or countries, caused many bloody wars. The First World War began in 1914 and killed over 21 million people. The second World War lasted longer and left over 50 million people dead.  Once the guns stopped blazing, Europe began working towards uniting and rebuilding the damage left in the wake of the wars. Europe is rich in culture and had many centripetal forces working to its advantage. 

    One major centripetal force in Europe was the creation of a common market. A common market allows countries to trade with one another with little to no tariffs or taxes on goods crossing country boundaries. It was with the creation of the common market that ultimately led to the European Union in 1993. The European Union exists to promote economic security and growth and the prosperity of all the countries of Europe. 

    Video by Mr.Miller Productions


    Can you think of anyone who lives in one state but works in another? Think about the city of Louisville and southern Indiana. Lots of people work in Louisville but live in southern Indiana.  They travel back and forth between these states with little to no difficulty. Many of the countries in Europe are close in geographical size to states in America.  Imagine those same people who live in southern Indiana but work in Louisville changing out their currency and having to check their baggage and show their ID's every time they entered and left Kentucky. Before the creation of the European Union, this is what citizens had to do in Europe when they left their home country. 

    The creation of the European Union allowed for  several centripetal forces that united Europe. 

    The European Flag blowing in the breeze.
    Photo by:

    Common market - Remember the colonists from last year in Social Studies and how much they HATED the taxes that King George forced upon them?  A common market allows for little to no tariffs on imported goods.  This allows goods to move more freely among countries and breaks down trade barriers.  The common market promotes economic growth across Europe!

    Currency - Could you IMAGINE having to change out your money as you drove into Indiana to go to Huber's Orchard or Bass Pro Shop??  And it would be even WORSE if the value of Indianas money was more than Kentucky's money.  Before the EU was created, this was a common problem in Europe.  People who frequently traveled had to change currency across every border.  If they were traveling into a country whose currency value was more or less than that of what they were exchanging, they could lose money!  No one liked that!  In 2002, the EU created a common currency called a euro.  Most of the countries in the EU adopted this currency which meant NO MORE EXCHANGING money during travel. 


    The Euro, which is the currency for most members of the European Union.
    Photo by:

    Trade Bloc -Because the EU created a common market, they have created one of the most powerful trade blocs.  Millions of consumers live in the EU trade bloc.  A trade bloc is an agreement between several countries to reduce trade barriers. 

    The European Union has also worked together to create jobs, improve roads and many other things that united Europe. 


    Imagine you were doing laundry one day.  You loaded up the washing machine with all your dirty clothes.  You put in the laundry detergent and filled it up with water.  An hour or so later, your washing machine beeps that the cycle is finished.  You open up the washing machine and are surprised to see.........what?  The washing machines centrifugal force did what to your dirty clothes???

    (Clipart by:

    The force of the spinning in the washing machine pushed all your clothes to the outer edges of the machine.  This is a centrifugal force!  It divided your clothes from the center of the machine.  Centrifugal forces can also work to divide people...or in this case...countries! 

    Think about what we learned about spatial inequality in Mexico.  Some areas of Mexico were wealthier than others.  This is true in most parts of the world.   Some portions of Europe are wealthier than other parts.  Think about when/if your sibling got a bigger, better Christmas present just because they were younger (or older) than you.  Did that seem fair?  Think about it from the perspective of European countries.  For example, portions of eastern Europe are poorer than western Europe.  Therefore the EU has elected to spend large amounts of money on central and eastern Europ in an effort to improve the standard of living in these countries.  The western countries of Europe often feel this is unfair. Because the standard of living varies between regions of Europe, other strains frequently pop up.  If you were a business owner and could pay workers a lower wage in central/easter Europe versus a higher wage in western Europe, which would you choose?  Why?  Do you see the dilemma facing western Europe?  Where are the jobs being moved??   On the flip side, wage differences encourage workers in poorer EU countries to move to richer ones in search of jobs.  Citizens of the wealthier countries fear that too many immigrants from poor countries will drive down wages for everyone.  


    Have you ever watched Glee?  Or any movie or TV show where 2 people get in a fight?  What usually ALWAYS happens as the two people begin to argue or fight?  Their friends (peeps, posse, it whatever you want) come to the rescue proclaiming to "have their back"???  What does that mean??  It's like the old saying, "there is strength in numbers."  Guess what?  This sample principal holds true in politics.  There are issues in Europe that EVERY country must deal with...think of these issues (like POLLUTION) the bully.  The bully (pollution) is attacking Europe and Europe's homeboys/peeps/posse come to the rescue!  This is a centripetal force!  All countries must figure out a way to combat pollution (and other global issues) and by coming together, the problem becomes easier to solve. Additionally, by working together Europe's voice becomes LOUDER in global politics!  Strength in NUMBERS!

    Remember our little friend that lived in New Albany, IN but worked in Louisville?  Remember how we imagined how DIFFICULT it would have been for them to live in one "country" and work in another?  Thanks to the creation of the European Union, checking passports/IDs and exchanging of money across borders became a thing of the past!  The creation of the European Union allowed participating countries to become citizens of EUROPE and they were free to live and work anywhere in the EU and vote in all EU elections!


    Have you ever had a teacher (probably Mrs. Whitlow!) that placed you into groups to complete a project or task?  Did you work well in your group?  Was it easier or more difficult to work in a group?  Many of your answers probably differ depending on the group dynamic.  Frequently, students prefer working in groups UNLESS they don't agree with the group.  In which case, they would prefer to work alone or with someone in which they agree.  This holds true for countries in the European Union.  Countries like to make their own decisions in areas of defense and foreign affairs, ESPECIALLY when they disagree.

    If I asked you as a class to choose ONE thing for our end of quarter raffle.  Do you think we could agree?  It would probably take us awhile, but I think we could agree.  What about if we asked the entire Incredible team?  Could we decide?  Probably so but it would take us awhile.  What if we asked the ENTIRE TOWN OF ELIZABETHTOWN to help us decide what we should offer in our raffle????  Chances are it would become more and more difficult to make a decision as more people were included on the decision making process.  Guess what??  In the European Union, as the union expands and more countries join, decision making becomes even more difficult.

    Centripetal Forces - Cultural

    Do you get goose bumps when you hear the national anthem play at a baseball game or the Super Bowl?  I know I do.  Ever seen a picture of "Uncle Sam" with the red, white and blue hat?  For all you country music lovers, Toby Keith sings about America ALL THE TIME.  All of that represents national pride.  We, as Americans, have a strong cultural identity.  Our national anthem, symbols like the Eagle and Uncle Sam, our flag, 4th of July!  Just like America, the creation of the European Union has created a sense of pride.  The European Union has its own flag that has 12 stars on a blue background.  The song "Ode to Joy" by German composer Ludwig van Beethoven was chosen as the national anthem.  On May 9, Europeans celebrate Europe Day.  This cultural identify has united Europe.

    When you hear of people traveling overseas, do you hear them say, I'm going on vacation to France?  Or do you hear them say:  I'm going on vacation to Europe?  Most likely, you hear people referencing Europe as a WHOLE, not individual countries.  The reason for this is with the creation of the European Union, travel between countries was accomplished with ease.  This has also united Europe.


    Think about traveling around Europe AFTER the Union was created.  Did people still speak their national language?!  YES!!!!  Language, even TODAY in Europe, is a problem.  Communication is very difficult among countries.  The official documents for the European Union had to be translated into about 20 different languages!!  That equals about 20 million pages worth of translations!!!

    Think about The Griswold's Family Vacation (come on people, it's on TV EVERY NOVEMBER-DECEMBER).  Clark Griswold is KNOWN for keeping up with his neighbors ESPECIALLY with his outside decorations.  Living in a subdivision like the Griswold's, things can be VERY competitive.  This is EXACTLY like the EU.  Countries have a strong sense of national pride which creates LOTS of competition. 

  • Chapter 2: Population in Europe

    Have you ever been to a place in the world and noticed mostly elderly?  Mostly young people?  During this chapter we will discuss population trends across the European Union.  Studies show that Europe has one of most aging popluations in the world.  What causes this?  Deomgraphy is the study of human populations.  Demographers look at birth rates and death rates and migration in order to study how populations change over time. 

    What makes a population grow?  Shrink??

    There are 2 factors that cause a population to change.

    1.  How many siblings do you have in your family??  Are you an only child?  Think about your friends?  How many kids are there per family?  This statistic (or fact) is called the total fertility rate (TFR).  The TFR is the average number of births per woman.  According to the Population Reference Bureau, the total fertility rate of the United States in 2011 was 2.0.  That means that ON AVERAGE, women had 2 children in their lifetime.   In Italy in 2008, the TF was under one and half babies per woman.  Would this mean that Italy has a growing or shrinking population??

    2.  In order for a population to maintain or to GROW, the total fertility rate must meet or be greater than the replacement rate of a given country.  The replacement rate is the total fertility rate needed for a population to replace itself.  It's simply math.  To have a POSITIVE number or a population to increase, you need more babies to be born than the amount of people dying.



    L1: After researching informational texts on population in Europe, write an essay that identifies 3 problems facing Europe's population and argues for a solution. Support your position with evidence from your research. L2: Be sure to examine competing views. L3: Give examples from past or current events or issues to illustrate and clarify your position.

    Select 3 articles from the choices below to do your research:

    Article 1:  Europe of the Future

    Article 2:  Europe Worries about Shrinking

    Article 3:  Shrinking Societies



  • Chapter 3: Transboundary Pollution in Europe

    How can one country's pollution become another country's problem?


    Do you remember learning about the Industrial Revolution in 5th grade Social Studies?  How could we BEST describe the Industrial Revolution? 

    During the 1700's, Europe experienced a shift from handmade goods to machine made goods.  This is SUPER news for producers and consumers.  Goods are made FASTER and which lowers the price for consumers.  Machine made goods also allow for greater production which means more money for producers. much as the Industrial Revolution boosted the economy, it also created big environmental problems. 

    I'm sure many of you, when you think of pollution, you think of people tossing their trash out the window.  Yes.  That is definitely pollution.  However, we learned about other kinds of pollution in our study of the Great Lakes and freshwater ecosystems.  This chapter we will take that a step further. People create two kinds of pollution.  Sometimes, polluting is an accident.  During 2009, there was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that destoyed a large portion of that ecosystem.  That was an example of accidental pollution.  The other kind of pollution is called general pollution.  Burning coal to make electricity is general pollution.  Acid rain is also a problem caused by general pollution.  Acid rain is rain that contains acid from factory smoke and car exhaust.  Acid rain can be very harmful to plants, fish, animals and even buildings.  Pollution can become an even BIGGER problem when it spreads.  How does pollution spread????  Water currents in rivers, oceans, streams, etc can carry pollution to other locations.  Air pollution can also be carried by the wind into the atmosphere and therefore spread to other locations.


    Imagine it is April 28, 1986.  Your favorite show was just interrupted by this breaking news report. 

     (ABC News Via YouTube)

    What are you feeling?  What happened at Chernobyl?  Why do you think this is "breaking news" in America?  Why would something that happened in the Soviet Union (currently Russia) be an issue across the world?  Why were people in Sweden confused and frightened? 

    Take 5 minutes and answer these questions with your partner.  Be ready to discuss.

    Photo by

     The Chernobyl nuclear plant lies near the city of Kiev in modern day Ukraine.  At the time of the nuclear explosion, Kiev was part of the Soviet Union.  Chernobyl was one of many nuclear power plants in about 30 different countries.  The plants use uranium, which is mined from the ground, for fuel.  The nuclear reactor holds the uranium, which gives off energy in the form of heat.  The heat then boils water to create steam, which powers a turbine to produce electricity.  In nuclear power plants there are procedures and protocol in place that is very important to safety.  At Chernobyl, a worker did not follow certain procedures and rules which allowed the nuclear reactor to get too hot which ultimately led to the explosion.   After the explosion a huge cloud of radioactive dust formed over Chernobyl.  What do you think happened to the cloud of radioactive dust?

    Imagine a rain cloud.  Does a rain cloud stay in one place and only rain in that one spot?  Does it move?  What makes the rain cloud move?? The wind pushes the rain cloud on to different locations.  The same was true for the cloud of radioactive dust.  Once the radiation was released from Chernobyl, it became impossible to contain.  The radioactive cloud moved north toward Sweden.  It was a scientist in Sweden that originally found high levels of nuclear radiation in the air.  The cloud then moved south toward Central Europe.  The areas closest to Chernobyl in Belarus were hit the hardest by the radioactivity.  The people in these areas, as a result, have had higher rates of cancer because they eat, drink and breathe radiation every day. 

    Aerial photograph of Chernobyl after the explosion. 
    Photo by

    So how did they fix it????

    When the explosion at Chernobyl first happened, the Soviet government denied such incident.  However, after the Swedish scientists made their discovery, the Soviet government could no longer deny.  They sent engineers into Chernobyl to build a giant concrete box around the damaged reactor.  This giant tomb was built to try to contain the radiation.  It will have to stay in place for hundreds of years until the area is no long dangerously radioactive. 

    Thousands of people had to be relocated because it was unsafe for them to remain in their homes.  Workers destroyed contaminated crops, food, and animals but unfortunately, despite these measures taken, thousands of people will eventually die in Ukraine from problems caused by radiation. 

    Because of the tragedy of Chernobyl, nuclear power plants have improved safety making reactors less likely to overheat and put in place safety precautions that make plants easier to shut down in an emergency. 



    Statues damaged by Acid Rain.
    Photo by:

     (Fun Communication Classes via YouTube)

    What is acid rain?  Click on the video and be prepared to discuss!!


    Acid rain is caused by pollution of the air.  Emmissions from factories and cars are the largest source of air pollution problems.  In Europe, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic meet in an area known as the "Black Triangle."  In this location in Europe, many factories and power plants burn lignite, a soft brown coal, as their main fuel.  The soot from the burning coal is the reason this area is known as the "Black Triangle."  The burning of lignite gives off sulfur dioxide and nitrogen odxide.  When they mix with water, acids form.  Acids will slowly destroy and eat away at something until it is destroyed. When the chemicals mix with water in the air, it creates acid rainAcid rain then falls on lakes and rivers and water systems, the high levels of acid can kill fish.  Acid rain can also harm forests.  The photo above of the statues, shows the harmful effects of acid rain.


    So how did they fix it????

    Countries in Europe are trying many different things to reduce acid rain.  Some countries are offering rewards to companys that reduce pollution.  Another countries are promoting new technologies that reduce pollution.  One example are smokestack scrubbers.  These devices take harmful substances out of the smoke as it goes up the chimney which results in less pollution.  A third approach is for countries to hire scientists to look for new ways to harness the power of the wind, water and the sun and to use coal as fuel less often.




    Tisza River System
    Photo by:  By Ifjabb Benedek Jenő  (], via Wikimedia Commons

    A mining operation in Romania in 2000 was using cyanide to seperate gold from less valuable rock.  Cynanide is a toxic chemical.  Once the gold was seperated, the cyanide was then stored in a pond behind a small dam.  The night of the spill, high levels of rain raised the water level and caused the dam to burst.  Around 100,000 cubic meters of water laced with cyanide spilled out of the pond.  That is equal to about 30 Olympic sized swimming pools filled with toxic waste. 


     Click the globes to read about the Tisza-Danube Cyanide Spill!

    So how did they fix it????

     The pollution of deadly toxic chemicals into one of the largest water systems in Europe focused peoples attention on water pollution.  Luckily, by the time the cyanide reached the Danube river, the sunlight had broken down the chemicals and it was no longer toxic to fish.  However, many scientists predict it will take at least 10 years to recover from this disaster. 

    One effort made by the people of Europe is to reduce waste dumped into the waterways.  This untreated sewage is especially harmful to these freshwater ecosystems.  The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River was established in 1998.  This commission is made up of representatives of the 13 countries that share the Danube river system.  They are working together to reduce transboundary pollution.  As we discussed in chapter 1, national pride has also played a role in the effort to reduce water pollution.  In 2004, the ICPDR held its first "Danube Day" where millions of people gathered along the banks of the river to celebrate the past and think about its future.



  • Chapter 4: Landscape in Russia

    How do physical processes shape Earth's landscape?

    Look out your back window at your house.  What kind of landscape do you see?  Trees?  Flat ground?  Hills?  Mountains?  Believe it or not, whatever you see out there hasn't always been there.  The landscape on Earth is forever changing because of physcial processes at work.  Some physical processes builds land up into mountains.  Other processes wear down land into valleys and plains.  Russia is the worlds largest country so it naturally is the perfect country to see a variety of landscapes.  Russia will be the backdrop for us as we look at four physical processes and how they have changed the landscape in this country.

    Tectonic Movement

    Take out a sheet of scrap paper.  Lay it flat on your desk.  Notice the physical landscape of the piece of paper.  If you got this paper directly out of your notebook, there should not be any crinkles or dents in your paper.  Take your hands on either side of the paper and move them together.  This should cause your paper to fold together.  What does the landscape of your paper look like? What do you see??

    How does this little experiement relate to tectonic movement?  Discuss at your table.  Be ready to explain.

    Photo by Jean Robert Thibault; courtesy of CreativeCommons

    Earthquakes are sign of tectonic movements.  Recently, in Hardin County, Kentucky we experienced an "earthquake."  To us, this was a big deal because this isn't something we regularly experience.  Mrs. Whitlow was out shopping at Kohl's and felt it!  That was the first time she had EVER (in her short 28 years of life) to have ever experienced such an occurance!  Did you feel this happen??  Take a second and ask the people around you.  Describe what it felt like!

    Tectonic plates are incredibly heavy.  When they meet, friction can lock them into place for long periods.  During this time, enormous pressure builds up below Earth's crust.  When the pressure gets too great, the plates come unsuck and move with tremendous energy.  This sudden movement is an earthquake.

    The photo above shows you a physical map of Russia.  You can clearly see parts of the map have been crinkled.  Much like your piece of paper in our experiment.  Mountains are one of the most common signs of tectonic movement.  The movement of tectonic plates are what creates mountains over time.  Sometimes the pressure of the plates colliding together forces Earth's crust to fold or crinkle like our paper.  When Earth's crust crinkles or comes together without breaking, fold mountains are formed.  Other times the collision of tectonic plates cause the crust to crack into huge blocks.  The crack is called a fault.  Fault-block mountains are formed when pressure builds up and the tilted blocks alide upward along the fault lines. 

    Is the photo below of the Ural Mountain Range in Russia fold mountains or fault-block mountains?  Look closely at the features of this mountain range.

    Photo by:  Ugraland; Courtesy of Creative Commons

     Volcanic Activity

    Photo by:  Wikimedia Commons (via Creative Commons)

    The photo above shows Kropotkin volcano located in East Sayan mountains in Russian.  Volcanic activity also plays an important role in the shaping of Earth's surface.  Sometimes Volcanoes can erupt so violently they destroy whole islands.  Two thirds of he island of Krakatau in Indonesia disappeared a long time ago because of a forceful eruption of a volcano.  The hold liquid rock called magma that lies beneath the Earth's crust is always moving.  Sometimes this magma pushes its way to the surface through cracks in the crust.  The location where the magma reaches the surface is a volcano.  Volcanoes usually appear along the edges of tectonic plates.  Volcanic eruptions are all different.  Some are quiet where lava glides over the Earth's surface or sprays out like a fountain.  Other times the violently erupt.  Magma is is stored deep inside the earth in the magma chamber.  The main vent is the place where magma bursts through Earth's crust.  The crater is located at the top of a volcano where land around the opening has collapsed.  Lava is liquid rock that erupts from a volcano.   

    Watch the video below and think about how eruptions could change the surface of the Earth. 

    This video shows the aftermath and explosion of two volcanoes located on the Kamchatka Penisula in Russia.

    Video by:  EduDocumentary; Courtesy of Creative Commons


    Photo by:  Jack Dykinga; Courtesy of Creative Commons

    The photo above shows an example of severe soil erosion.  This erosion is taking place in a wheat field near Washington State University.  Erosion takes place everywhere and can be caused by wind, moving water and ice, and gravity. 

    Wide can erode land by picking up tiny bits of dirt and carrying them to other places.  This process wears away the layer of soil that covers Earth's crust.  Wind can also grind away rocks and hills by blasting them with gritty sand and dirt.

    Water can shape the land by eroding the land to create deep v-shaped valleys.  The faster a river flows, the more soil it can wash away and carry downstream.  Along coastlines, ocean waves can wear away the shoreline to create steep banks and cliffs.  Waves can also erode soil at the base of cliffs, causing the land to collapse. 

    Weathering is the natural process that breaks rock into smaller pieces.  Mass wasting is the movement of rock that has been weathered.  Erosion is the removal of rocks and soil from a location and deposition is the putting down of eroded material. 


    There are two kinds of glaciers that have been identified by geographers.  Continental galciers form in large, thick sheets in low areas near the poles with very cold climates.  Alpine glaciers form in high moutain valleys where snowfall is plentiful and temperatures are low.  These glaciers slide downhill as they are pulled by gravity.

    Glaciers move very slowly but are very powerful.  They grind the hardest rock into fine soil.  They also push great loads of rock and dirt over long distances.  Continental glaciers pick up rocks and soil as they creep.  They can pile up dirt and rock into mounds called moraines.  Sometimes they leave behind holes in the land which causes lakes when the glaciers melt.  Apline glaciers reshape the land by scraping away whole hillsides, turning rounded mountaintops into pointed peaks called horns.  As they move down canyons, they carve narrow V-shaped river valleys into broad U-shapped valleys. 

    A u shaped valley is a valley shaped like a U and formed by a moving glacier.  The horn is the pointed peak of a mountaintop shaped by a glacier.  Moraine is a mound of dirt and rocks left by a glacier.

  • Chapter 5.Successful Nation-States

    Find the documents you will need for Ms. Greenwood's unit here!

    On Quizlrt, only the first five terms are our GeoTerms! 





    Ethnic group

  • This topic

    Shrinking Water in the Aral Sea


    The Shrinking Aral Sea

    Have you ever been to a lake or to the beach? Can you picture all of the people swimming, riding waves, tanning, and fishing? This was once what the Aral Sea was like. It was a very healthy ecosystem that was used for fishing and as a potable water source.

    But all of this changed with the incoming of the Cotton industry.

    Cotton is a very valuable crop. It is so valuable that it is sometimes called “white gold” because it is a cash crop that farmers can sale for a good income. The government of the former Soviet Union knew that cotton was valuable and wanted to grow it in the desert region of Central Asia near the Aral Sea.

    The Soviet government provided water to cotton farms by building dams on the Amu and Syr rivers. The dams helped to irrigate water from the rivers that fed the Aral Sea to the cotton crop. This seemed like a good idea at first, but things quickly went bad.

    90 percent of the rivers’ water was stored behind the dams and only 10 percent was able to reach the Aral Sea. As water evaporated, the sea began to shrink. Large areas of dry seabed became a salty wasteland. The salinization of the water also increased, meaning it became more salty. This caused many fish to die and the fishing industry to disappear. It also changed the regions climate. Winters became colder and summers were hotter without the sea to moderate the temperature.

    Most areas of the Aral Sea are nothing but dry, salty deserts today. The once plentiful sea is now a deserted wasteland.


    PLACARD B:  The Aswan High Dam.  Click

    to watch the information on Placard B.

  • Micro-Entrepreneurs

    Please click on the attachments to find the assignments for this chapter.