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Exploring Alaska



Exploring Alaska
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 8 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.22

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    driftwood, expedition, camped, fierce, northwest, scurvy, interesting, unknown, addition, diets, journey, skull, archaeologists, claim, continent, death
     content words:    Atlantic Ocean, South America, North America, Vitus Bering, Vitus Jonassen Bering, Bering Strait, West Coast, East Coast, There Bering, Bering Island


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Exploring Alaska
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     By the 1700s, the Age of Exploration was coming to an end. By this time, many explorers from Spain, France, and England had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to explore North and South America. But there was still one part of America left to be explored, and that was the northwest coast, especially Alaska. In fact, so little was known about Alaska at that time that no one knew for sure whether Asia and North America were one continent or two.
 
2     In 1725, Russia decided to find out. The czar of Russia, Peter the Great, chose Vitus Bering to be in charge. Vitus Jonassen Bering was born in Denmark and had been sailing since he was a very young man. In 1703 he had joined the Russian navy and moved to Russia. Bering's journey for Russia took him first through the cold Russian land of Siberia to Kamchatka, where his party camped and began building their ships. In 1728 they sailed around the northeast corner of Asia, proving that there were two separate continents, Asia and North America. The waterway that they traveled between Asia and Alaska is now known as the Bering Strait.
 
3     Bering's second adventure began in 1733 and lasted ten years. It was probably the largest expedition ever! Bering's party for this expedition is estimated at 10,000 men. In addition to being in charge of 10,000 people, these were Bering's duties: to find and map the western coast of America and to map the eastern coast of Asia. He reached America in 1741 and established Russia's claim to the northwest part of North America. On the return journey to Russia, Bering's ships were plagued by difficulties. Many of his men developed the fatal disease called scurvy, which resulted from the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets. Their ships also met a fierce storm along the way, and the explorers were stranded on an unknown island. There Bering, who was ill too, spent the winter in a driftwood hut in the sand. Bering died and was buried on the island, which was later named Bering Island.

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