Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over
Curated by Seth Dixon
"Canada: land-wise, it's one of the world's biggest countries, but population-wise, it's anything but.The map comes from the Government of Canada's 'Plant Hardiness Site,' which contains images showing 'Extreme Minimum Temperature Zones' throughout the Great White North."
"Daily oil production in the Bakken is approaching one million barrels per day, placing it in an elite group of only ten super-giant oil fields in the world that have ever produced that much oil at peak production. In total, nearly one billion barrels of oil have now been produced in the Bakken oil fields, and all of that oil production and related activities have brought the unemployment rate in the Williston area down to below 1% in most months over the last three years. For the most recent month – April – the jobless rate here was 0.9%."
As an oil boom has transformed North Dakota, the influx of oil workers has changed all the sectors of the local economy. Agriculture has historically been the #1 economic contributor in the region, but huge piles of grain aren't be shipped to the market, as oil by rail is much more profitable.
Questions to Ponder: Why is WalMart offering such high wages in North Dakota? What local factors impact the prevailing wage rate? What does this tell us about places with low wages? How does the oil industry impact all the others in the region?
In 1990, the manufacturing industry was the leading employer in most U.S. states, followed by retail trade. In 2003, retail trade was the leading employer in a majority of states. By 2013, health care and social assistance was the dominant industry in 34 states. This animated map shows the top industry in each state and the District of Columbia from 1990 to 2013.
Today's volume of immigrants, in some ways, is a return to America’s past.
The source of migrants today has changed the cultural composition of the United States from what is was 100 years ago. Cultures are not static and migration is one of the key drivers of change. These maps produced by the Pew Research Center. Despite what media reports would have you believe, immigration into the United States is not on the rise, but maps such as these can be construed to imagine that there is a flow of immigrant coming from south of the border. The reality is that migration from Mexico to the United States has steadily dropped since 1999.
Demographic transformations are dramas in slow motion. America is in the midst of two right now. Our population is becoming majority non-white at the same time a record share is going gray.
The demographic shifts in the United States are transforming the cultural fabric of the country and this interactive feature from the Pew Research Center explores some of these changes. Interracial marriage, declining fertility rates, migration, economic opportunities and politics are just some of the issues that can be seen in these excellent populations pyramids, charts, videos and graphs.
"Quebec voters gave a resounding no to the prospects of holding a third referendum on independence from Canada, handing the main separatist party in the French-speaking province one of its worst electoral defeats ever."
Quebec, which is 80 percent French-speaking, has plenty of autonomy already. The province of 8.1 million sets its own income tax, has its own immigration policy favoring French speakers, and has legislation prioritizing French over English. But many Quebecois have long dreamed of an independent Quebec, as they at times haven't felt respected and have worried about the survival of their language in English-speaking North America.
In the 20 years since it entered into force, the North American Free Trade Agreement has been both lauded and attacked in the United States. But to properly assess NAFTA’s record, it is important to first be clear about what the agreement has actually done. Economically speaking, the answer is a lot.
NAFTA was the first comprehensive free-trade agreement to join developed and developing nations, and it achieved broader and deeper market openings than any trade agreement had before.
NAFTA did that by eliminating tariffs on all industrial goods, guaranteeing unrestricted agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico, opening up a broad range of service sectors, and instituting national treatment for cross-border service providers. It also set high standards of protection for patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
NAFTA ignited an explosion in cross-border economic activity. Today, Canada ranks as the United States’ largest single export market, and it sends 98 percent of its total energy exports to the United States, making Canada the United States’ largest supplier of energy products and services. Mexico is the United States’ second-largest single export market. Over the past two decades, a highly efficient and integrated supply chain has developed among the three North American economies. Intraregional trade flows have increased by roughly 400 percent.
North Americans not only sell more things to one another; they also make more things together. About half of U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico takes place between related companies, and the resulting specialization has boosted productivity in all three economies. NAFTA has also caused cross-border investment to soar.
In spite of this impressive economic record, NAFTA has its critics. Most of those who attack it on economic grounds focus on Mexico, not Canada, and claim that the partnership is one-sided: that NAFTA is Mexico’s gain and America’s pain. But the economic data prove otherwise.
Understanding mistakes of the past can help guide U.S. transportation policy in the future.
In 2010, Americans drove for 85 percent of their daily trips, compared to car trip shares of 50 to 65 percent in Europe. Longer trip distances only partially explain the difference. Roughly 30 percent of daily trips are shorter than a mile on either side of the Atlantic. But of those under one-mile trips, Americans drove almost 70 percent of the time, while Europeans made 70 percent of their short trips by bicycle, foot, or public transportation. The statistics don't reveal the sources of this disparity, but there are nine main reasons American metro areas have ended up so much more car-dependent than cities in Western Europe.
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
"The graph and tables on this page attempt to show how the urban hierarchy of the United States has developed over time. The statistic used here is the population of the metropolitan area (contiguous urbanized area surrounding a central city), not the population of an individual city. Metropolitan area population is much more useful than city population as an indicator of the size and importance of a city, since the official boundaries of a city are usually arbitrary and often do not include vast suburban areas. For example, in 2000 San Antonio was the 10th largest city in the U.S., larger than Boston or San Francisco, but its Metro Area was only ranked about 30th. The same thing was happening even back in 1790: New York was the biggest single city, but Philadelphia plus its suburbs of Northern Liberties and Southwark made it the biggest metro area."
Factories are finding that years of doing business overseas has withered what once was a thriving textile and apparel work force in the United States.
Historically, waves of immigrants came to the United States to work in textile mills. Since 1990, 77% of manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to places with lower wages as the industry has become automated. Today though, specialty items that still need to done by hand are coming back to the U.S. and wages in that sector are rising as American consumers want a "made in the USA" label.
"This is a series of infographics (or geo-infographics) created by Matthew Hartzell, a friend of mine that I met when we were both geography graduate students at Penn State in few years back..."
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
How many of these 107 regional slang words do you use? This week on Mental Floss' YouTube information session, author and vlogger John Green explains 107 slang words specific to certain regions.
"Counties where at least 10 percent of people speak a language other than English at home."
While this is ostensibly a map that would be great for a cultural geography unit, I'm also thinking about the spatial patterns that created this map. What current or historical migrations account for some of the patterns visible here? What would a map like this look like it it were produced 50 years ago? Why are Vermont and West Virginia the only states without a county with over 10% of the population that speak another language at home?
"David Greene talks to writer Jeremy Miller about the American Centroid. That's the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the U.S. would balance perfectly if all 300 million of us weighed the exact same."
Every 10 years the centroid (the center of U.S. population) is calculated using the latest census data. As the map above shows, the centroid has continued moved west throughout history, but in the last 60 years has moved to the south and west. The recent shift to the south coincides with the mass availability of air conditioning (among other factors) which opened up the Sun Belt. In this article in Orion Magazine, Jeremy Miller discusses the historical shifts in the spatial patterns of the U.S. population and the history of the centroid. you can listen to podcast versions of this article as well, one by NPR and a much more detailed one by Orion Magazine.
Questions to Ponder: Would the centroids of other countries be as mobile or predictable? Why or why not? What does the centroid tell us?
If you haven't discovered CGP Grey yet, his YouTube channel is a veritable fountain of geographic tidbits. His distinctive style helps to contextualizes some of the more odd and complicated parts of Earth's borders. If you want another example, watch Bizarre Borders, part 1 which focuses on countries within countries and single-neighbor countries.
An isogloss is a line that divides regions based on the words that are used to describe the same item or concept. This series of 22 maps is a delicious way to visualize some of the lingusitic differences in the United States. Why are these distinct vocabulary terms regionally used?
Notice that this map shows that Rhode Island and Wisconsin are distinct in using the term "bubbler" where there rest of the country would refer to the same object as a drinking fountain (West) or a water fountain (South).
30-second animation of the changes in U.S. historical county boundaries, 1629 - 2000. Historical state and territorial boundaries are also displayed from 178...
I love this time-lapse animation of all the county and state-level boundary changes in United States history. Would you like to see this in greater detail? Would you want to download the data and create your own visualization of this? The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries has all of this data as GIS shapefiles, Google Earth KMZ files and PDFs for the whole country as well as for each individual state. This project sponsored by The Newberry and the National Endowment for the Humanities has tremendous potential for use in the classroom for history and geography teachers alike.
More than 600 newcomers per day have arrived in Canada since 2006, and many of them have settled in neighbourhoods like Richmond, B.C.
Over 6 million of those living in Canada were born outside of Canada an migrated there. This infographic cleverly outlines both where migrants live in Canada and where they came from. Ethnic enclaves are an important part of Canada's rural and urban cultural landscapes. Since the 1960s, the majority of immigrants have come from Asia, changing some traditional neighborhoods.
This interactive dot distribution map of the United States 2010 census data has many great applications. The conversation can focus on the symbology of the map (for example, this could lead to a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of dot distribution maps) or notice how certain physical landforms are visible for either their high or low population density. One of the advantages of this map is that it uses census data at the block level. This means that the user can visualize distinct scale-dependent patterns. Sharp divisions (e.g.-urban vs. rural) might have less of a distinct edge as you zoom in.
UPDATE: This map now includes Canadian and Mexican census data as well as the United States.
With the slight resurgence of U.S. manufacturing in the recent years—termed a potential "manufacturing moment" by some—it is important to consider not just the future of manufacturing in America but also its geography.
This interactive map is brimming with potential to both teach and learn about the changing industrial geographies of the United States.
|Suggested by Kara Charboneau|
"Between now and 2021, a million jobs are expected to go unfilled across Canada. Ottawa is making reforms to the immigration system but isn't going far enough. We need to radically boost immigration numbers. With the right people, Canada can be an innovative world power. Without them, we'll drain away our potential." This article clearly articulates some of the economic ramifications of the later stages of the demographic transition and some of the difficulties that are associated with a declining internal population.
The 2012 election are showing again some of the cultural, political and economic divides that exist in the United States. This above map portrays the 2008 presidential election, with counties that voted for McCain in red and Obama in blue. Rick Santorum has said, in reference the political map of the United States today, "Think about it, look at the map of the United States...it's almost all red except around the big cities." Rick Santorum, by taking on “blue” big cities, is also criticizing the Republicans, his own party. This political portray is an attempt to accentuate the difference between rural and urban America to hit his key demographic, but it also begs for further analysis into the electoral geography of the United States. As some social media skeptics have retorted, "It's all blue except where nobody lives." Which is it? What do these patterns say about United States politics? Why do these patterns exist? For more maps that shed light on the spatial voting patterns from the 2008 election, see: http://www.scoop.it/t/geography-education/p/462087007/2008-election-maps
"It's a myth that the U.S. doesn't make anything anymore." The U.S. economy still produces more through manufacturing tangible goods ($1.5 trillion) than it does in providing services ($600 billion) for the international market. The maps and graphs in this article are great teaching materials. The impact of NAFTA is shown powerfully in the regionalization of U.S. trade partners, making this salient material for a discussion on supranationalism as well.