California became the thirty-first state of the United States in 1850. It is about third in land area but first in population. It produces so many goods that it is actually about the sixth largest economy in the world. One of its concerns is that it lacks water to sustain both population growth and agricultural needs. Sacramento is the capital, and the nickname is the Golden State. The state motto is Eureka, meaning I have found it. It has had eight major earthquakes since 1900. Children could visit an Internet site at: California.
Sequoia National Park was created in 1890. Located in central-southern California, the park encompasses over 400,000 acres. Known for its magnificent sequoia trees, the park is also home to Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. Children can visit the park’s website at: Sequoia. Children could compare the sequoia to other types of trees.
Hoover Dam (originally Boulder Dam) was dedicated in 1936. The dam, located at the border of Nevada and Arizona, captures water from the Colorado River. Constructed between 1931 and 1936, it was a marvel at the time and remains an amazing structure. The dam has created Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. The dam controls flood waters and provides hydroelectric power to Nevada, Arizona, and California. It is also quite a tourist attraction. Children can learn some SUPER facts at: Hoover Dam.
Yosemite National Park was established in 1864. Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Big Tree Grove combined to make the national park. Located in central California, the park encompasses over 700,000 acres. Over three million people visit the park annually. Children could visit the park’s website at: Yosemite National Park. The site presents some excellent multimedia presentations, and a great presentation on Moonbows is: Moonbows.
Redwood National and State Parks were created in 1968. Located along the northern coast of California, the parks encompass over 100,000 acres and preserve the remaining giant redwood trees. Children could visit the park’s website at: Redwood.
Air Force Captain Chuck Yeager in 1947 flew a BellX-1 airplane, the Glamorous Glennis, at Mach 1.07 over Muroc Dry Lake Bed in California. He successfully conducted the first faster than sound flying experiment.
Felix Baumgartner in 2012 jumped from a hot-air balloon at a height of 24 miles to freefall to earth. He reached a speed of 843.6 miles per hour (Mach 1.25), becoming the first person to break the sound barrier without a vehicle.
Swallows leave Capistrano, California, for the winter. They fly to Argentina, but they will return March 19th.
Spruce Goose flew its first and only flight in 1947. Howard Hughes designed and flew the twenty-five million dollar plane made of wood. Originally called Hercules, the plane flew for about one mile at an altitude of 70 feet over Long Beach Harbor, California. Today the Spruce Goose is an exhibit at the Evergreen Museum. Find more information and examine photographs at: Spruce Goose.
Gold was discovered in California in 1848 by John Sutter and John Marshall. They were building a sawmill when they noticed flakes of gold in the water. Most of the forty-niners rushed to the Mother Lode country, part of the western foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Over 90,000 people had reached California by 1849, and the population topped 220,000 by 1852. The rush had declined by 1854, and most prospectors turned to other jobs. Idea: Children could find out how mine claims are made legal and how assays prove metal content of ore. Children could learn more at: California Gold. Children would really enjoy reading Sid Fleischman’s excellent historical fiction book By the Great Horn Spoon!
Hale Telescope on Mount Palomar began operations in 1949. Named after George Ellery Hale, the 200-inch reflecting telescope was the largest of its kind. Located near San Diego, California, the telescope is still in use. Children can view a webcam at the telescope’s site at: Hale Telescope.