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Olympic Swimming Relay Team Video

The Olympic flame is one of the most important symbols of the Olympic Games. You can follow flame’s journey from Olympia to the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy. Along the way you can learn about Olympic history, geography, and mapping skills.

Lighting the flame has been an important part of every Olympic opening ceremony since it was first used in Berlin in 1936. The idea of keeping a flame lit throughout the Games was first used by the ancient Greeks in Olympia.

A few months before the opening of the Games, a ceremony is organized on the site of the original Games, the ancient sanctuary of Olympia. An actress dressed as a ceremonial priestess, in the robes of the ancient Greeks, lights the torch via the same technique used in the original Games.

She uses a parabolic mirror to focus light rays from the sun. The parabolic mirror has a curved shape. When it is held toward the sun, the curvature focuses the rays to a single point. The energy from the sun creates a great deal of heat. The priestess holds a torch in the center of the parabolic mirror, and the heat ignites the fuel in the torch, sparking a flame.

If the sun is not shining on the day of the lighting ceremony, the priestess can light the torch with a flame that was lit on a sunny day before the ceremony.

The flame is carried in a fire pot to an altar in the ancient Olympic stadium, where it is used to light the first runner's torch.

For the Winter Games, the relay actually begins at the monument to Pierre de Coubertin (the man who founded the modern Olympic games in 1896), which is located near the stadium. Read about this year's flame lighting here.

When the first torch is lit, the relay begins.

The flame is carried by relay all the way to its final destination. Although it is usually carried by runners on foot, other modes of transportation are also used. For air transportation, the flame is sheltered in a security lamp, similar to a miner’s lamp. At night, the flame is kept in a special cauldron.

The highlight of the opening ceremony of the Olympics is the entrance of the Olympic flame into the stadium. The final torchbearer is always a citizen of the host country whose identity is kept secret until the last moment.

The final torchbearer does a lap around the stadium before lighting the huge cauldron with the Olympic flame. Pigeons are then released as a symbol of the peace in which the Olympic Games should take place.

The flame remains lit for the duration of the Games.

You can follow the torch at the official torch relay website. There, you can read the relay diary, with daily updates on the progress of the torch. You’ll find video, a photo gallery and a detailed description of the journey.

You can print a map of Italy and trace the route yourself. Maps are available at the University of Texas site, or from the Italian Embassy.

Younger children will enjoy crafting a torch to carry. The dltk-kids website uses construction paper while the torch from family crafts is made of an empty paper towel tube and tissue paper.

Traveling from Olympia to Turin, the Olympic flame ends its journey by lighting the Olympic torch of the Games. At the conclusion of the Games, the flame is extinguished. But this is not the end. Instead, this signifies the beginning of preparations for the next Olympic Games.

Caren Bugay has lots of tips and resources to enhance your child's education. Find more great ideas, including ways to use current events and movies as learning experiences,at