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Teaching Activity: Designing Olympic Medals

PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Medals

PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Medals [via Korea.net / Korean Culture and Information Service / accessed through Wikimedia Commons]

Did you know that the design of the Olympic medals changes with each Olympics? The designs are meant to showcase the culture and traditions of the host country. For example, the design for the front of this year’s PyeongChang medals has the Olympic rings set on a background that is meant to look like the texture of tree trunks, symbolizing history and determination. The side and back of the medals incorporate the Korean alphabet, and the ribbons are made of a traditional Korean fabric known as gapsa.[1]

Help your students get excited about the PyeongChang Olympics with the following teaching activity from CultureGrams. This activity will help students think critically about what goes into choosing the design of Olympic medals. Though the activity is geared for grades 6-8, it can easily be adjusted to suit any grade level. You can also find additional teaching activities about the Olympics on CultureGrams.

Designing Olympic Medals

Grade level

6–8

 Objective

Students will design an Olympic medal based on what they learn about the culture of a country.

 Common Core State Standards Initiative

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.1 Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.2 Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.8 Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

  • Literacy in History/Social Studies (Grades 6–8): ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.8 Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

Anchor Standards for Reading: ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Time requirement

Preparation: 15 minutes

In-class: 60 minutes

Materials

CultureGrams World Edition

Art materials—construction paper, scissors, glue, pens, etc.

Instructions

  1. Ask each student to choose a country and read its CultureGrams report. Students should make note of things that set the country apart and that citizens of the country would be especially proud of.
  2. Explain to the students that the design of the Olympic medals combines the history of the Olympic Games with the culture of the host country. Each host country designs the medal that hundreds of athletes will compete for that year. Have students look at the design and background information for medals from some past Winter or Summer Olympic Games. Hold a class discussion about which elements of culture the designs incorporate and why.
  3. Ask students to design an Olympic medal for the country they researched. They must incorporate aspects of the country’s culture as well as images from ancient Greek culture and the history of the Olympic Games. You may wish to determine the format (paper, poster, digital design, etc.) or leave it open to the students.
  4. In small groups or in front of the class, have students explain why they chose to include each element of their medal.

Extension activity

Each country that hosts the Olympics designs a logo for the games. The logo may feature a symbol of the country or it may simply try to capture the excitement of the games. While each country adds their own elements to the logo, almost all logos incorporate the Olympic rings, one of the most recognizable symbols of the games. Have the students research past Olympic logos on the Internet and choose the one they think reflects the best blend of Olympic history and the host country’s culture, according to that country’s CultureGrams report. Students should be prepared to defend their choices with specific details.

Visit CultureGrams to find more teaching activities!

  1. “PyeongChang 2018 Medals.” International Olympic Committee, www.olympic.org/pyeongchang-2018-medals.

Olympic History: Boycotts, Protests, Scandals and Violence

The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of
practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which
requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play
.”

–4th Fundamental Principle of Olympism, from The Olympic Charter

Sochi Olympic Rings at Olympic Park
by Atos International [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The XXIII Olympic Winter Games open tomorrow in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea. The Olympics provide a platform for nations from around the world to unite in celebrating athleticism and sports achievement. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) aims to promote sports competition and education free of any discrimination, and theoretically at least, all political disputes are set aside during the Games. Despite the IOC’s goals for international peace during the Games, there have been many disruptive and controversial incidents that have been associated with the Olympics throughout history. Below are some notable events that have challenged the Olympic ideal of promoting international peace and understanding.

Discrimination

Women were not permitted to compete in the first modern Olympics, held in Athens, Greece in 1896. Four years later, at the 1900 Paris Olympics, female athletes made their debut, but only 22 women out of a total of 997 athletes competed in just five sports. Since then, more sports and events were gradually introduced that allowed women to participate. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei had never had a female athlete compete in the Olympics until the 2012 Summer Games in Sydney, when all three countries included women in their delegations for the first time.

Jesse Owens via Library of Congress [public domain]

The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany offered Chancellor Adolf Hitler a chance to promote his claims of Aryan racial superiority. Jewish athletes were banned from Germany’s Olympic team, and African American Jesse Owens became the first U.S. track and field athlete to win four gold medals at a single Olympics. Owens was only one of 18 African American athletes on the U.S. team that year, and despite winning 14 medals (eight of them gold), they received little recognition when they returned home. While white Olympians were invited to the White House to be congratulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the same honor was not extended to the black athletes.

Bribery

Frank Joklik, head of the organizing committee for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, resigned after admitting payments were made to members of the International Olympic Committee during the bidding process to select the location of the Games. The bribery allegations also resulted in the expulsion of six IOC members. The Games were still held in Salt Lake City, but under new chief executive Mitt Romney.

Doping

At the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia, U.S track and field athlete Marion Jones became the first woman to win five track and field medals at a single Olympics—three gold and two bronze. In 2007, after an investigation, the IOC stripped Jones of all of her medals after she admitted that she had used a banned substance.

14 Russian athletes who competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia were disqualified for violating anti-doping rules and stripped of their medals (ten total, including four golds). 19 Russian athletes have been banned from the Games for life as a result of an IOC investigation into allegations of widespread doping among Russian competitors. The scandal resulted in Russia’s Olympic team being barred from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Protests

Olympic History at SJSU (San Jose, CA 2009)
by mksfly [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Foter.com

While many Olympic celebrations have been the target of protests, one of the most iconic took place in the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City. After two U.S. sprinters earned medals in the 200-yard dash, they decided to take a stand for human rights. Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) mounted the medals podium wearing no shoes and black socks to symbolize poverty among black Americans, beads and scarves to protest lynching, and Olympic Project for Human Rights badges. Then each bowed their heads, raised a black-gloved fist and stood silently as their national anthem played. Amid international outrage and condemnation within the U.S., the two Americans were suspended from the U.S. team, given 48 hours to leave Mexico, and were later stripped of their medals. In 2005, the San Jose State University alumni were honored when a bronze statue was erected on the campus, and in 2016, they were invited to a reception at the White House.

Boycotts

During the 1972 Summer Games in Munich, Germany, the U.S. men’s basketball team entered the gold medal game against the Soviet Union with seven gold medals with a perfect 63-0 record in Olympic competition.  With the U.S. leading as time expired, the officials granted an improper timeout to the Soviets and put three seconds back on the clock, allowing the Soviet team to score another basket and win the game 51-50. The team boycotted the medal ceremony, refusing to accept their silver medals. Nearly 50 years later and despite numerous invitations to the athletes to accept them over the years, the medals remain in a vault in Lausanne, Switzerland.

President Jimmy Carter announced that the U.S. would boycott the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. 64 other nations also refused to attend. In retaliation, the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles, joined by 14 other Communist bloc socialist countries. Other boycotts of the games occurred for various political reasons in 1908 (London), 1936 (Berlin), 1956 (Melbourne), 1964 (Tokyo) and 1976 (Montreal).

Violence

On September 5, during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, a group of Palestinian terrorists stormed the Olympic Village apartment of the Israeli team, killing two and taking nine others hostage. A failed rescue attempt at the Munich airport resulted in the death of all of the hostages, along with five of the terrorists and one West German policeman.

Plaque in front of the Israeli athletes’ quarters commemorating the victims of the Munich massacre. The inscription, in German and Hebrew, reads: The team of the State of Israel lived in this building during the 20th Olympic Summer Games from 21 August to 5 September 1972. On 5 September, [list of victims] died a violent death.
Honor to their memory.
by High Contrast (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 DE], via Wikimedia Commons

On July 27, during the first week of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, a homemade pipe bomb exploded during a late-night concert at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. There were two deaths, and at least 111 others were injured. The bomber, Eric Robert Rudolph, wasn’t captured until 2003, despite an intensive 5-year nationwide manhunt and a $1,000,000 reward.

Scandals

On January 6, 1994, just one month before the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, figure skater and Olympic contender Nancy Kerrigan was leaving the ice after practice for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit. A mysterious man attacked and struck above her right knee, forcing her to withdraw from the competition due to the injury. Tonya Harding was crowned the 1994 Champion, and just five days later, the attack on Kerrigan was linked to Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly. A media frenzy ensued, with countless reporters following and harassing Harding constantly.  Kerrigan went on to win a silver medal in the 1994 games, while Harding finished in eighth place, was later stripped of her national championship and permanently banned from all amateur skating competitions.

Possibly the biggest Olympic scandal ever was in the news recently. Three USA Gymnastics board members resigned after former Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar pled guilty in November 2017 to multiple counts of molesting female athletes, many of them children. Several Olympic gold medalists were among the 156 victims who gave impact statements at his pre-sentencing hearing. Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on January 24. MSU president Lou Anna Simon also resigned in the wake of the scandal. The U.S. Olympic Committee then called for the resignations of the entire 21-member board of USA Gymnastics.

* * *

The upcoming Games in PyeongChang have already stirred controversy. North Korea’s decision to send a delegation to the Olympics, and the agreement by the two Koreas to compete with a combined women’s ice hockey team have sparked protests in Seoul where activists and defectors from North Korea have burned and ripped photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea also pulled out of a planned joint Olympic cultural event and appears to be planning a huge military parade on the day before the opening ceremonies.

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Loving the LOVE at the Olympics!

Brazilian Flag and Olympic Logo

Brazilian Flag and Olympic Logo (courtesy of Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain])

What makes the Olympics so beloved?

Perhaps it is because we, the spectators, are satiated with incredible competition and mind-blowing athleticism.

Perhaps it is because we enjoy witnessing the thrill of victory…and yes, even the agony of defeat.

Perhaps it is because we want to feel as if we are a part of something magnificent, something bigger than ourselves, something shared with most of the world.

Perhaps it is because we are inspired by the edited Olympic coverage of athletes’ personal lives…our heartstrings are pulled and our own dreams come into focus–if only for a moment.

But I think there is something more that keeps us watching, keeps us coming back, keeps us gratified. Something absolutely grand.

Joy. Harmony. Peace. LOVE.

Open hearts abound during the Olympic Games. Like when…

Michael Phelps hugged his teammate Caeleb Dressel, the young swimmer who was overcome with emotion after their team won the gold in the Men’s 4 x 100m Freestyle Relay.

…gymnast Louis Smith of Great Britain sincerely congratulated gymnast Alexander Naddour of the United States for winning the bronze medal in pommel horse.

…Jen Kish, the team captain of Canada’s women’s rugby team, found her father in the stands after the team’s bronze-medal win.

…gymnast Laurie Hernandez of the United States held up her team-winning gold medal to her father…and he ecstatically and emotionally fist-pumped back to her.

Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz celebrated with her coach, Alfonsito Aldanete, after her second lift of the competition. She won the silver medal.

…gymnasts Diego Hypolito and Arthur Mariano of Brazil tearfully and exuberantly rejoiced after winning silver and bronze for their floor routines, respectively.

…Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa set the world record in the men’s 400m–and we watched his 74-year-old great-grandmother (who is his coach) celebrating in the stands. And then larger-than-life runner Usain Bolt congratulated him.

These astonishingly genuine moments are, simply put, human moments. They transcend the thrill of victory…these moments are sincere human connections, which is what makes them so gratifying to witness.

They are why I watch the Olympics.

How about you? What keeps bringing you back to the Olympic Games?

SKS and SIRS Discoverer honor the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with Spotlights of the Month, featuring articles and Web sites on Olympic history, athletes, and moments. Join us in celebrating this international event.

Spotlight on the Summer Olympics

summerolympics

The 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is the first Olympics held in South America.

Let’s take a look at some other Olympic firsts….

1900 Women first competed at the Olympic Games in Paris.

1900 Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera was the first black athlete to compete in the Olympics. He competed for France.

1908 John Taylor, as part of the U.S. relay team in athletics, was the first African-American athlete to win a gold medal.

1912 The Olympics, for the first time, included competitors from all five continents.

1936 The Berlin Olympics were the first games to be televised.

1972 Waldi the dachshund was the first Olympic mascot, appearing at the Munich Olympics.

1984 Professional athletes were first allowed to compete in the Olympics.

2004 The Olympic torch traveled to all five continents for the first time for the Olympics in Athens, Greece.

The Olympics provides several teachable moments for you and your students. This month the SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month focuses on the Olympics. Here you can find articles and images that examine the history of the Olympics as well as editorially selected content for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

CultureGrams Activity: Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro. (Photo courtesy of the CultureGrams photo collection)

The Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin next week on August 5. Get your students excited about the Olympics by having them participate in some of our Olympic-themed activities, which can be found on our Teaching Activities PDF.  One of these activities is included below, but our Teaching Activities PDF has more ideas to help students learn about different aspects of the Olympics.

Grade level
K–5

Objective
Students explore and familiarize themselves with the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Time requirement
In-class: 50 minutes

Materials
CultureGrams Kids Edition—Brazil

Instructions
1. Introduce the activity by discussing the concept of the Olympic Games. Explain that the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Spend some time discussing with the class what qualities and conditions a city or country must meet in order to be chosen to host the Olympic Games.
2. Break students up into groups and have each group read through the Kids Edition Brazil report, paying particular attention to the sections that describe the factors that make it a good home for the Summer Games (e.g., the Land and Climate section) as well as the country’s unique cultural and historical aspects that might play a role during the Olympic Games.
3. Have each group summarize and present their findings. As a class, discuss what they have learned about Brazil and why Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Games.

Extension Activity
Have students discuss whether or not they think their state has a suitable city to host the Olympics. What would make it a good place? What would be some of its drawbacks? Have students write a letter to the International Olympic Committee, explaining why their state should or should not host the Olympic Games.

Let the Games Begin!

Olympics (Historical) Research Topic in ProQuest eLibrary

“Every four years the finest athletes in the world gather in one location to compete against each other and to determine who best exemplifies the Olympic motto—Citius, Altius, Fortius—meaning “faster, higher, stronger.” This gathering, known as the Olympic Games, is the most celebrated sporting festival in the world. The games attract athletes from over 200 nations and strive to promote international understanding and human development through sport.”*

The best way to find dynamic, visual, packaged content of Olympics past and present is a feature unique to eLibrary: editor-created Research Topics.

Research Topics are editorially-created units that provide critical background information on a topic, while highlighting some of the most compelling photographs, articles, and video clips in eLibrary.

Find 30+ Research Topics on Olympic games and Olympic athletes that include:

*”Olympic Games.” Compton’s by Britannica. 2005. eLibrary. Web. 26 Jul. 2012.

Using CultureGrams to Enhance Your Olympic Experience

 I am obsessed with the Olympics. Since the London Olympics began last week, I have been glued to the TV and the internet, trying to keep track of everything and everyone. I’m sure many of you can relate.

As the Games progress, I always become curious about the personal lives of the athletes and their backgrounds and invariably their home countries. I’ve already used CultureGrams to learn more about the countries of the athletes competing.

The Olympics can be a great way to spark interest in the countries of the world, their cultures, and their relationships with each other, and CultureGrams can help satisfy that curiosity. In our Teaching Activities section, we have Olympic-themed classroom activities and lessons to help students and teachers alike turn interest in the Olympics to an educational experience. Check them out.

Do you have any classroom or lesson ideas that focus on the Olympics? Share them!

–Andrew Selman

Olympic Games

“An Outsourcing Problem for Ralph Lauren” via ProQuest SIRS Issues Researcher

With the 2012 Summer Olympic Games set to start on July 27th in London, keep up to date on issues surrounding the games and the athletes with SIRS Issues Researcher.

Using the subject heading “Olympics“, users can retrieve a wide variety of timely articles covering stories such as outsourcing U.S. uniforms, Olympic advertising, doping and steroid use, female athletes, and more.

Besides current topics, users can also find articles on major Olympic-related stories from the past, including the 1972 Munich massacre, Olympic boycotts, Jesse Owens’ triumph at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the ancient Greek Olympics and many more.

–Kim Kobayashi & Tami Kirk

Ready? Get Set for the 2012 Summer Olympics

Wondering what sports are new to Olympics this year?  Want to know who currently holds the most Olympic metals?  Age-appropriate articles offering historical information, fun facts and timely news stories related to Olympics are now available in SIRS Discoverer.   Throughout the games, access Olympic 2012 information featured as the Top Pick section on SIRS Discoverer’s homepage.