Topography and elevation matters. We can dry to make water dry ground (and vice versa), but not without future consequences.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Finding Materials: This site is designed for geography students and teachers to find interesting, current supplemental materials. To search for place-specific posts, browse this interactive map. To search for thematic posts organized by the APHG curriculum, see http://geographyeducation.org/thematic/. Also you can search for a keyword by clicking on the filter tab (looks like a funnel) above in the upper-righthand corner.
Staying Connected: You can receive post updates in the way that best fits how you use social media.
Email: Click 'follow' button at top right of this page.
I hope that you enjoy the content and materials that you find on this website. This represents the best news, materials and resources that I have found that can be used in geography (and other) classrooms. Use the 'funnel' as a way to filter and search for resources of specific topics or places.
"60 years has made a big difference in the urban form of American cities. The most rapid change occurred during the mid-century urban renewal period that cleared large tracts of urban land for new highways, parking, and public facilities or housing projects. Fine-grained networks of streets and buildings on small lots were replaced with superblocks and megastructures. While the period did make way for impressive new projects in many cities, many of the scars are still unhealed. We put together these sliders to show how cities have changed over half a century. In this post, we look at Midwestern cities such as [pictured above] Cincinnati, Ohio."
It's ironic that I feel more accustomed to exploring Cincinnati, OH on foot than I do Providence, RI. Although I drive in downtown Providence regularly, I seldom have a reason to walk and explore it. In my yearly visits to Cincinnati to score the AP Human Geography exams, I'm outside my hometown and away from my typical routine. That helps me feel more like a flâneur, to stroll the streets and explore the urban landscape. This set of 7 before and after images shows Midwestern cities (Cincinnati, Detroit, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Columbus) lets you digitally analyze the last 70 years of urban morphology. Click here for a gallery 7 of cities in Texas and Oklahoma.
Questions to Ponder: What are the biggest changes you see for the 1950 to today? How are the land uses difference? Has the density changed? Do any of urban models help us understand these cities?
"Though uninhabited and full of melting ice caps, the Arctic is surprisingly an appealing piece of real estate. Many countries have already claimed parts of the region. So who technically owns the North Pole? And why do these nations want it so bad?"
Denmark is now being more assertive in their claims. Why is this happening now? As climate change threatens polar ice caps, some see the receding ice as an economic and political opportunity. Canada, Russia, Denmark (Greenland) and the U.S. are all seeking to expand their maritime claims in the Arctic. When trapped under ice, extracting resources is cost prohibitive, but the melting sea ice will make the Arctic's resources all the more valuable (including the expanded shipping lanes). Even a global disaster like climate change can make countries behave like jackals, ready to feast on a dead carcass. For more, read this National Geographic blogpost.
“The Midwest is this big nebulous part of the country and it's kind of what's left over after all the other regions of the country are defined. Those regions have much stronger identities if you think of the East Coast or maybe New England or the Pacific Northwest or certainly the South. The Midwest is kind of the catchall for what's left. We [Minnesota] should be called the North.”
Whether I agree or not with the ideas being discussed, I simply love that this discussion is taking place and how intensely geographical the ideas and evidences being brought forward are.
Questions to Ponder: So what region do you live in? What defines that region? Are there other regions that you can claim to be a part of also? How would you divide the United States into various regions? How come?
A sign urging environmental action during a United Nations summit meeting on climate change was placed near a 1,000-year-old geoglyph that is a cultural treasure in Peru. Officials are outraged over the trespassing and the disturbance of the ancient grounds.
Greenpeace is falling for some of the same social media fails as the selfie generation. Peruvian authorities are angry that Greenpeace activists damaged a forbidden archeological site that is both a national symbol and sacred site. UN climate talks are taking place in Peru right now, so this Greenpeace publicity stunt becomes all the more ironic. The Peruvian government is accusing them of irrevocably damaging the environment at this site.
"Summer 2014 brought a sight that had not been seen since 1941: the Charles W. Morgan leaving the Mystic River for the Atlantic Ocean, stopping at several New England harbors before eventually arriving in New Bedford, Massachusetts where the ship was built in 1841. The Charles W. Morgan is the last remaining wooden whaling ship in the world, and a National Historic Landmark."
Only two countries today are stilling whaling (Japan and Norway), but the whaling industry was a critical component to the settling of New England. Check out this Maps 101 podcast for short introduction to the historical geography of New England whaling.
"Farm exports to the U.S. from Mexico have tripled to $7.6 billion in the last decade, enriching agribusinesses, distributors and retailers.
American consumers get all the salsa, squash and melons they can eat at affordable prices. And top U.S. brands — Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Subway and Safeway, among many others — profit from produce they have come to depend on.These corporations say their Mexican suppliers have committed to decent treatment and living conditions for workers. But a Los Angeles Times investigation found that for thousands of farm laborers south of the border, the export boom is a story of exploitation and extreme hardship."
This is a hard read, but it is important to understand that there is a dark underbelly to many of the economic systems that are reshaping the world today. Sometimes we ask all the wrong questions, like "why is organic, local, or fair trade food so expensive?" We should really be asking why the other options are so cheap.
This, unfortunately is part of the answer. The video above is a snippet from a 4-part series (I-camps, II-labor, III-Company Stores , IV-Child Labor) from the LA Times that has excellent pictures, videos, and interviews highlighting the working conditions of farm workers in Mexico. For an audio version, here is an NPR podcast interviewing Richard Marosi, the investigator behind the story.
"Mr. Tom is as much a chief technology officer as he is a farmer. Where his great-great-grandfather hitched a mule, 'we’ve got sensors on the combine, GPS data from satellites, cellular modems on self-driving tractors, apps for irrigation on iPhones,' he said.
The demise of the small family farm has been a long time coming. But for farmers like Mr. Tom, technology offers a lifeline, a way to navigate the boom-and-bust cycles of making a living from the land. It is also helping them grow to compete with giant agribusinesses."
I have a confession to make; I’m a map geek. Even as a kid watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, I was fascinated by the map they used to segue between scenes to show Indiana Jones’ travels.
I hope you enjoy this article; I enjoyed writing it. I write about my map geekiness (does that surprise anyone out there?), share my place-based videos StoryMap with over 60 of my favorite classroom videos, and why teaching kids to appreciate the value of maps is important. All of my future articles for National Geographic Education will be archived here at this link.
"Physicist Geoffrey West has found that simple, mathematical laws govern the properties of cities — that wealth, crime rate, walking speed and many other aspects of a city can be deduced from a single number: the city's population. In this mind-bending talk from TEDGlobal he shows how it works and how similar laws hold for organisms and corporations."
While corporations rise and fall, it is quite rare for a city to entirely fail as an economic system. Huge cities have some negative consequences, but the networks that operate in the city function more efficiently on economies of scale in a way that offsets the negatives. Increasing a city's population will continue to improve the economies of scale (larger cities have higher wages per capita, more creative employment per capita, etc.). However, this growth requires major technological innovations to sustain long-term growth.
"Please join us in voting for DigitalGlobe’s fourth annual Top Image contest. From the trillions of pixels captured by our satellites this year, we need your help to decide which image showcases DigitalGlobe’s unique ability to solve important problems from space. Just follow these three easy steps:
Step 1: To vote, simply go to DigitalGlobe’s Facebook page to see the Top Image 2014 album.
Step 2: Click through the images to learn about the different applications and industries we serve, and 'like' the images that you think best showcase the value of satellite imagery."
The stark contrast between the haves and have-nots is apparent from above, so too is the city’s rebound.
In the 1950s, Detroit was the 4th largest city in the U.S. with a booming population around 2 million as seen in some vintage footage of Detroit. As the de-industrialization process restructured the US economy, globalization restructured the world’s economy, and Detroit’s local economic strategy crumbled. Detroit was $18-20 million in debt with a population around 700,000 and is unable to pull out of this nosedive. The tax base shrunk, city services were spread thin and in 2013, Detroit filed for bankruptcy. Today, some parts of Detroit are rebounding well while others are in absolute disarray. These differences can, in part, be understood by using aerial photography and a spatial perspective.
"Self-taught Iranian photographer gains rare access to shoot religious buildings as they've never been seen. It's a side of Iran the rest of the world doesn't normally get to see -- the kaleidoscopically brilliant interiors of the country's intricately designed mosques.With beautiful mosaics and stained glass framed by powerful architecture, the buildings are astounding."
Conflict Kitchen is an art project based in the centre of Pittsburgh which serves food from countries with which the US is 'in conflict'. The founders get to define what conflict means - it can range from outright war to economic sanctions - and since opening in 2010 they have prepared food from Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba. But the restaurant's latest choice of cuisine, Palestinian food, has caused controversy in the city and even led to a death threat which temporarily closed the venue. Critics pointed out that the US is not in conflict with the Palestinian people. They claimed that the pamphlets served with the dishes included 'anti-Israel' propaganda. But Conflict Kitchen's founders said the project was designed to encourage debate among Americans."
Questions to Ponder: What do you think the purpose of Conflict Kitchen is for the restaurant owners? Many people choose restaurants for a cultural experience; what type of cultural experiences are these patrons searching for by eating at Conflict Kitchen? What political overtones are there to these cultural encounters? Is this a form of 'gastro-diplomacy?'
While this Minute Earth video might make geomorphology experts cringe at some of the vocabulary in this, it still is a good introduction to the absolute basics of fluvial geomorphology, or how and why rivers reshape the Earth. Fun fact: Albert Einstein pondered some of the great mysteries of the Earth, and in 1926 wrote an article on this very subject (actual paper can be read here).
There are some beautiful images and places to be discovered through this quiz. This set of aerial photographs challenges the reader to guess the country where the image was taken; even with two options, it's quite challenging. This forces the reader to use context clues in the physical and human landscapes to make an education guess. If you are looking for more, here are two quizzes (one and two) from the Atlantic, plus another from Joseph Kerski embedded into ArcGIS online . To get students exploring more Google Earth images and saving their own finds, Stratocam is a great place to start.
"Each student should have a large piece of butcher block paper (15x20). They should use a pencil for this activity (color pencils are optional). Using the template provided, each student should make their own template. It is crucial that size for each of the 'characters' in the city be the same. As you read each of the Rounds, your pace should increase so that by Round 15 the students will only have a short time to draw their buildings."
In this game, you simulate the industrial revolution and have your students design a village that, after 20 rounds of the simulation, will grow to a full-fledged city. Various teachers have adapted the rules for this game and here are some variants that are saved as a standard webpage, Microsoft Word file, PDF, Powerpoint and Prezi formats.
Earth is changing rapidly, and an increasing number of scientists say that humans have become the dominant force driving these changes. While the term has no formal definition, many agree that we are now living in an age shaped by human activity: the Anthropocene.
Evidence for the Anthropocene ranges from worldwide population booms to the expansive transformation of the landscape. But solutions are cropping up at the local level that could help create a more resilient global community."
"In 2001 the world began talking about the Bric countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - as potential powerhouses of the world economy. The term was coined by economist Jim O'Neill, who has now identified the 'MINT' countries - Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey - as emerging economic giants. Here he explains why."
Ninety percent of Tibetans share a genetic mutation that prevents their blood from becoming dangerously clogged with red blood cells at high altitudes—a response that can be deadly for non-native mountaineers. Karen Hopkin reports.
Genetic adaptations to a specific environment show how people are can be culturally and environmentally tied to a given land. While most geographers are nervous to mention examples such as these for fear of being labeled too 'environmentally deterministic,' it does not hurt to show how that it is possible. The fear of having your ideas be labeled and environmental determinism shouldn't stop us from exploring the human/environmental interface.
In this interview with a geographer, Emily White tells us it's more than state capitals and shares how math can help kids and parents map and explore the world.
There are plenty of reasons why it is great to be a geographer--a geographer is often a great member of an interdisciplinary research team.