Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
I'm a sucker for online quizzes like this one that shows only the grid outlines of particular cities. This isn't just about knowing a city, but also identifying regional and urban patterns. What are some other fun trivia quizzes? GeoGuessr is one of the more addictive quizzes where 5 locations in GoogleMaps "StreetView" are shown and you have to guess where. Smarty Pins is a fun game on Google Maps that tests players' geography and trivia skills. In this Starbucks game you have to recognized the shape of the city, major street patterns and the economic patterns just to name a few (this is one way to make the urban model more relevant). If you want quizzes with more direct applicability in the classroom, click here for online regional quizzes.
"Revolution and rotation are the terms we use to describe the motions of the earth and moon. Revolution is the movement of the earth in an orbit around the sun. The Earth completes one revolution around the sun every 365 days. The moon revolves around the Earth about once every month."
Understanding the relationships between the Sun, Earth and moon are critical for for understanding the seasons, climate and other geographic factors. This interactive simulates gravity unlike anything I've every seen on a computer screen.
To exploring Earth-Sun interactions, playing around with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Sun Simulator is a fun way to make a little more sense of the various factors that control how the Sun appears in the sky.
"During the month of October, I take advantage of the pumpkin harvest to bring hands-on geography to my students. After spending a month becoming familiar with the location of the seven continents and the major bodies of water, each student is given a pumpkin to turn into a globe. Students paint the entire surface of the pumpkin blue to represent water. Next, they use pushpins to position and trace the outline of each continent onto their pumpkins. They use actual globes as models and are careful to place the continents in the correct hemisphere. Then, they paint and label each continent a different color. They label the major bodies of water and use white paint to represent the North and South Poles."
Happy October everyone! The pictures above (from a friend's website) show how teachers and parents alike can get children involved in a fun craft that will strengthen kids' mental maps--all with a seasonal twist. If you really love idea of pumpkin globes, you should also see this one.
Smarty Pins is a Google Maps based geography and trivia game.
As stated in a review of Smarty Pins on Mashable, "Google unveiled a fun new game this week that tests players' geography and trivia skills. Called 'Smarty Pins' the game starts players off with 1,000 miles (or 1,609 kilometers if they're not based in the United States), and asks them to drop a pin on the city that corresponds with the correct answer to a given question."
This game is wonderfully addictive...I haven't enjoyed a mapping trivia platform this much since I discovered GeoGuessr. I answered 38 questions before I ran out of miles...how far did you get?
"NASA goes to the World Cup! Satellite imagery from each country playing."
Not that we need any extra incentive to view NASA's gorgeous satellite imagery, but now that the World Cup has entered the knockout rounds, it is the perfect opportunity to view selected images from the participating countries. This gallery of a dozen World Cup StoryMaps are but a few of the thousands of Esri StoryMaps that can serve as motivation to get your K-12 U.S. school an organizational account for ArcGIS online (then your students can make cool maps like these).
"Fans may not list which team they favor on the census, but millions of them do make their preferences public on Facebook. Using aggregated data provided by the company, we were able to create an unprecedented look at the geography of baseball fandom, going down not only to the county level, as Facebook did in a nationwide map it released a few weeks ago, but also to ZIP codes."
This isn't just a fun sports map--there are some good geographic concepts that can be used here. When discussing cultural regions, many use the core-domain-sphere model. This map uses the brightest color intensities to represent the core regions and the lightest hues to show waning strength, but to still signify that the area is a part of a team's sphere of influence. Essentially, this map is begging you to explore the borderlands, the liminal "in-between" spaces that aren't as easy to explain. What other phenomena can be used to demonstrate the core-domain-sphere model of cultural regions? What other geographic concepts can you teach using this map?
There is a beauty and magnificent in nature, both is the microscopic and delicate as well as the grand and powerful. The biosphere's diversity is a great part of it's allure that keeps geographers exploring for to understand the mysteries on our planet. The incredible image at the end of this project really is truly stunning.
Some deeply held opinions that individuals hold are rooted in the cultural and regional influences (even if they feel that they are being purely objective). Sports fans though, are rarely objective and are often swayed by those opinions that they hear the most, which often come for those closest to us. While we are on the subject of basketball and geography, you've got to try Population Bracketology, which challenges your knowledge on the sizes of Metropolitan Statistic Areas and state population.
"Hands-on worksheet to play and review the circles of latitude from the Wise Nest."
In May 2013, GeoGuessr came online and quickly became a favorite quiz game of geo-enthusiasts. Using 5 random locations in Google Street View. The game player can search the area in Street View and then make a guess as to where it is on the map."
So how can a geography teacher leverage this new platform to enhance the classroom experience? Teachers can allow the students to explore the various locations to analyze the cultural landscape. It is randomized, but teachers can now create their own GeoGuessr quizzes using GeoSettr. Anyone can arrange 5 locations into a customized quiz with a unique URL. Try this quiz I created (hints below):
These quotes are actual complaints received by a travel agency; some tourists were shocked to discover that their foreign excursion would actually have foreign experiences. I think all of these tourists need just a little more global awareness before they leave their front porch next time.
"After spending a month becoming familiar with the location of the seven continents and the major bodies of water, each student is given a pumpkin to turn into a globe. Students paint the entire surface of the pumpkin blue to represent water. Next, they use pushpins to position and trace the outline of each continent onto their pumpkins. They use actual globes as models and are careful to place the continents in the correct hemisphere. Then, they paint and label each continent a different color. They label the major bodies of water and use white paint to represent the North and South Poles."
Happy October everyone! This is a fun craft to strengthen kids' mental maps with a seasonal twist. If you really love pumpkin globes, you should also see this one.
"When viewed from above, a runoff of sand and silt creates the impression of an ‘underwater waterfall’, just off the coast of the island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean."
For another gorgeous gallery, see this list of river confluences.
Jay Leno interviews high school students knowledge of global issues and geographic understanding...as I'm sure you can guess, it isn't pretty.
If you want your students to be able to laugh at other students that aren't actually in your classroom, Jay Leno can always find a pool of people willing to embarrass themselves in front of the camera (mocking and being mocked was a major part of my junior and high school experiences). This and about a dozen other videos are compiled together in this start-of-the-year video list.
"One of their lessons [in a series involving geologic sciences] involved teaching the kids about the structure of the Earth. One of her friends came up with the idea of presenting a model of the Earth made out of cake. So my sister asked me if I could make a spherical cake with all the layers of the Earth inside it."
I definitely don't have the skills to pull off this amazing cake, but I can certainly appreciate the hard work and the amazing teaching tool this cake is (tutorial and recipes for concentrically layered cake here). Crafts are hardly fluff pieces; my daughter last year had to create a craft representing the inner core, outer core mantle and crust. She loved working with fruits of various sizes (blueberry was the inner core, followed by strawberry, kiwi and an orange with the peel being the crust) but the lesson stayed because of the visual and tactile connection that she had with the project.
I you haven't 'liked' the Church of Geography on Facebook, you really should. These geo-sermons are worth the huge investment of a simple click.
If you can't go to London and take the Warner Bros. studio tour, this is the next best thing: Diagon Alley in Street View. This is some mapping to inspire your Harry Potter fans and possibly tie some English Language Arts will geospatial tools.
The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings,
of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World, Europe, the British Isles and the United States.
For instance, where you would normally expect to see the Sahara indicated,
the Atlas gives you "The Tawny One", derived from Arab. es-sahra “the fawn coloured, desert”.
This is a fun set of maps that forces us to reexamine the historical linguistic roots of place names. Many toponyms have a complicated histories so the actual root of the name is not always a single straightforward translation as shown in these maps. As you explore these maps, most readers will find something the they would dispute, correct, or want to see contextualized more but all in all, it is a fun set of maps.
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
"And they've found many more faces, too – because they've actually built a computer program that sifts through Google Maps with facial-recognition technology to find..."
"We came to Sri Lanka with every intention of filming a video about an organic, fair trade tea farmer. That is exactly what we were planning when we set foot on the small tea farm of Piyasena and his wife Ariyawatha. What we didnt expect was to be so taken with the relationship between the two of them. What started as a farm story quickly turned into a story about love and dedication amongst the Ceylon tea fields."
The beginning of their love story is rooted in cultural traditions that many would find oppressive (arranged marriage), and yet there is much about their sweet relationship that is near-universally admired.