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Posts Tagged ‘Winter Olympics’

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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SKS Spotlight of the Month: Winter Olympics

For the first time in Russia’s history, the country will host the Winter Olympics. On February 7, the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Games will take place in Sochi, a Russian resort city that is known for its warm summers and mild winters.

2014 Winter Olympics on stamps <br \> by http://www.irkps.ru/images/sochi.jpg, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

2014 Winter Olympics on stamps
http://www.irkps.ru/images/sochi.jpg, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

The city has been preparing for the 2014 Winter Olympics since the 2007 announcement that it had been selected to host the Games. More than $51 billion has been spent so far, making these Games the most expensive in Olympic history. The preparations have also been mired in controversy, such as the large amount of construction waste produced during building and the Olympic Committee’s handling of Russia’s “anti-gay” law.

Despite difficulties, the 2014 Winter Olympics promise to deliver what all Olympic Games do–spectacular feats of athletic prowess amid incredible competition. Join SKS and its January Spotlight of the Month in celebrating the Winter Olympics. Quiz yourself on the International Olympic Committee and its new president, Thomas Bach. Meet Olympians, learn about Winter Olympic history, explore winter sporting events, and engage yourself with the grandeur and triumphs of the Winter Olympics.

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: Winter Olympics

2014 Winter Olympics on coins <br \> http://www.sostav.ru/news/2012/02/22/talisman_sochi_2014/, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

2014 Winter Olympics on coins
http://www.sostav.ru/news/2012/02/22/talisman_sochi_2014/, via Wikimedia Commons [Public Domain]

In February, the 2014 Winter Olympics will take place in one of the warmest cities of Russia–the resort town of Sochi. It is one of the few places in Russia that has warm summers and mild winters, and Olympians and other visitors to the city will be treated to the beautiful coastlines of the Black Sea and the scenic beauty of the Caucasian Mountains.

It has to be cold and wintry for the Winter Olympics because the featured sporting events take place on snow and ice, such as skiing, ice skating, curling, and hockey. Olympians train for years–even decades!– to become good enough to compete at the Olympic Games. Most work for hours a day, becoming stronger and improving their skills.

Visit SIRS Discoverer’s January Spotlight of the Month to learn more about Sochi and the 2014 Winter Olympics. Meet some Olympians, read about Winter Olympic history, and find out what events will take place during the games. You can also follow the journey of the Olympic torch, which began 123 days before the opening ceremonies on February 7. It was lit in the ruins of the Temple of Hera in Greece, and on its way to Sochi, even went to outer space!