Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over
Curated by Seth Dixon
What would Earth be like if all humans suddenly disappeared? This question posed on the YouTube series Earth Unplugged, has many intriguing ecological and biogeographic ramifications that are worth considering to explore how systems are interconnected.
"What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. With newly designed graphics from Gapminder, Rosling shows us the magic that pops up when economic growth and electricity turn a boring wash day into an intellectual day of reading."
What one invention has made the greatest difference in the lives of people all around the world? The case can be made for the washing machine; it has been a major tool in transforming the lives of women and restructuring gender roles in industrialized societies.
"Dogtown and Z-Boys: A documentary about the pioneering 1970s Zephyr skating team."
Popular culture is shaped by taste-makers, counter-cultural movements, and the blending of cultural practices in new ways creating a distinct aesthetic. Often, the physical geography of a region plays a crucial role in shaping the cultural practices particular to their environment. All of that can be seen quite vividly in the colorful skating revolution of the 1970s that took shape in the Southern California. Kids who grew up idolizing surfers branched out their recreational habits into the modern form of skating that we see today at the X Games. Made legendary through a series of Skateboarder magazine articles, these kids shaped the cultural ethos of skateboarding for over a generation. With the coastal influence of surfing, the socioeconomics of a seaside slum, it’s abandoned piers, the ubiquity of cement and asphalt in the urban landscape, the run-down neighborhood of “Dogtown” was home to cultural movement. The fierce droughts of the 1970 meant abandoned swimming pools; that drought led surfers to the technological infrastructure for modern skating ramps and half pipes as they skated in emptied swimming pools. As stated in those Skaterboarder articles, “two hundred years of American technology has unwittingly created a massive cement playground of unlimited potential. But it was the minds of 11 year olds that could see that potential.” The documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys” (trailer) and the fictionalized “Lords of Dogtown,” (trailer) both produced by skater turned filmmaker Stacy Peralta, chronicle the age (“Lords of Dogtown” is not appropriate for the K-12 classroom viewing).
"The Landsat program is the longest continuous global record of the Earth's surface, and continues to deliver both visually stunning and scientifically valuable images of our planet. This short video (download here) highlights Landsat's many benefits to society."
"In this exclusive, unedited interview, 'I Am Malala' author Malala Yousafzai remembers the Taliban's rise to power in her Pakistani hometown and discusses her efforts to campaign for equal access to education for girls. Malala Yousafzai also offers suggestions for people looking to help out overseas and stresses the importance of education."
For younger audiences, hearing someone their own age discuss educational opportunities (or the lack thereof) based on gender can leave a profound impression. Today, Malala is a Nobel Peace Prize winner (deservedly so), as she's become an icon in her own right as she champions developmental opportunities for girls in cultures that historically have not had equal offerings for young women. Watch this documentary to see who she was before she was thrust into the international spotlight, and hear her father's perspective. Some, however, only see this as Western hypocrisy.
"No one has found out how to help Denmark's falling birth rate. Until now. Spies Travels announces a competition where you have to make a baby to win."
Not all countries are concerned about overpopulation; Countries like Japan are in steep decline in terms of their population. Denmark is a country that is seeking to to encourage higher fertility rates (and this travel company is using this salacious ad to promote the it and themselves, but there is some actual demographic analysis in there). Singapore's National Night was another innovative campaign to boost fertility rates (warning: the video is provocative). Russia is also trying to boost fertility rates with a similar idea, but another major part of their strategy is to reaffirm traditional sexual norms in society.
Tag: declining populations.
"A great resource full of great links to accompany the Geography Soup channel on Vimeo."
Geography Soup is a Vimeo channel designed to include interesting videos that are laden with geographic content in them. This powerpoint slideshow has resources designed to help you get the most flavor and substance out of these (and any other) video resources. This is especially great for K-12 students, physical and regional geography.
"This is what a pyrocumulus cloud caused by the burning of over 28,000+ acres of forest looked like as the sun set. In person as these clouds were changing it wasn't all that noticeable when the huge plumes of smoke changed shape, but thanks to the magic of a time-lapse we get to behold the violent nature of the smoke cloud, including a storm cloud that emerged behind the main pyrocumulus."
Seeing this fire essential create it's own weather system is riveting. While this scene can be seen as beautiful on the macro-scale, it is horrific on the ground where the fire ravaged physical and human landscapes alike. Here is some satellite imagery of the fire.
"Here's a collection of timelapses I shot during the past year. Amazing landscapes from California, Arizona, Bahamas, Florida, Japan, Taiwan to Italy."
This video covers various topics important to mapping and satellite imagery (and a lesson from an APHG teacher on how to use this video with other resources). There is so much more to the world and space than what we can see see. Chromoscope, referenced in the video, simulates other forms of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum besides just visible light. This type of information is at the core of the science behind all of our satellite imagery. This video also covers many map projection issues and highlights online resources to understand map distortion including:
In this image-filled talk, Yann Arthus-Bertrand displays his three most recent projects on humanity and our habitat -- stunning aerial photographs in his series "The Earth From Above," personal interviews from around the globe featured in his web project "6 billion Others," and his soon-to-be-released movie, "Home," which documents human impact on the environment through breathtaking video.
I've linked galleries of the artistic, aerial photography of Yann Arthus-Bertrand several times before. In this Ted Talk, you can hear what motivates his artistic vision and the global perspectives that he wants to bring to the fore. You can also watch the 90-minute video 'Home' that he discusses in the talk here.
I'm sure a few of you have already seen this viral video and it should be intriguing to geographers for a variety of reasons (and not just because we love hexagons). Solar Roadways is a project in its infancy, but they have broad ambitions that would be revolutionary. Roads that would produce energy? The idea would have staggering results, but there are some practical reasons why this hasn't already been implemented. A geographic perspective is critical as we plan for the future.
Questions to Ponder: How would the full implementation of this idea restructure the cultural landscape, urban environments and our cultural ecology? What would some advantages be? This video is a promotional video that emphasizes the positive; what drawbacks, limitations and obstacles are there to solar roadways in the future?
"With modern technology, a global exchange of goods and ideas can happen at the click of a button. But what about 2,000 years ago? Shannon Harris Castelo unfolds the history of the 5,000-mile Silk Road, a network of multiple routes that used the common language of commerce to connect the world's major settlements, thread by thread."
This TED-ED lesson was produced in part by an AP Human Geography teacher and the strands of geographic thought in this video are evident. More geographers should make their own TED ED lessons; thanks for blazing the trail Shannon!
"About 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers, aided by rudimentary agriculture, moved to semi-permanent villages and never looked back. With further developments came food surpluses, leading to commerce, specialization and, many years later with the Industrial Revolution, the modern city. Vance Kite plots our urban past and how we can expect future cities to adapt to our growing populations."
This TED-ED lesson briefly summarizes the history of urban development and the technological advances that enable it. Towards the end of the video they offer some suggestions that would make cities more sustainable as urban populations continue to grow. What do you think of these suggestions?
Stratfor Founder and Chairman George Friedman and Chief Geopolitical Analyst Robert D. Kaplan discuss how Bashar al Assad has legitimized his authority over the course of the Syrian conflict.
Stratfor specializes in global intelligence in key geopolitical regions. Syria certainly fits that description and in this video, the two most public faces of Stratfor discuss the reasons for the Syrian Civil War from and internal perspective and also impacts from a broader outside lens.
"Population statistics are like crystal balls -- when examined closely, they can help predict a country's future (and give important clues about the past). Kim Preshoff explains how using a visual tool called a population pyramid helps policymakers and social scientists make sense of the statistics, using three different countries' pyramids as examples."
This is an incredibly powerful and remarkably well-done TED-ED lesson on the importance and value of population pyramids. This lesson goes nicely with this article fro the World Bank entitled "The End of the Population Pyramid" which highlights the demographic changes that will be reshaping global demographics in the next 50-100 years.
"Living on One Dollar is a full-length documentary made by four college students who traveled to rural Guatemala to live on just a dollar a day. Upon their return, they created Living On One, a nonprofit to raise awareness and inspire action around global issues like hunger and poverty -- and started by publishing the Change Series of video shorts. I found it so compelling I've dedicated this whole film fest to it. Each episode not only succinctly frames an issue faced by people in the developing world and makes it personal, but also offers resource links to learn more -- and even better -- to do something about it."
This set of eight videos that are all roughly 5 minutes bring up a variety of topics on on global poverty, development and economic issues that bring in a human element so that these topics are tied to real people and real decisions. Also see this interactive online game that asks you the question, can you survive extreme poverty?
The supercontinent Pangaea, with its connected South America and Africa, broke apart 200 million years ago. But the continents haven't stopped shifting -- the tectonic plates beneath our feet (in Earth's two top layers, the lithosphere and the asthenosphere) are still traveling at about the rate your fingernails grow. Michael Molina discusses the catalysts and consequences of continental drift.
Professor Seth Dixon shares over 50 of his favorite geography videos in this online map http://bit.ly/KDY6C2
Have you ever wanted to watch a video and to have a map handy at the same time? Ever since I first watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, I love the idea of combining video with maps. I produced this bare-bones map on ArcGIS online to spatially index over 50 videos that I enjoy using in my classes; all are place-specific videos (so they can be ‘located’ on the map). These videos have also been shared here earlier, but this map can function as a more user-friendly way to search for engaging video clips. Do you have a great place-based video that teaches the principles of geography that you love? Please share the URL in the comments section with a brief paragraph.
"In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called 'gendercide' or femicide."
Part of me hates to bring up this issue since it is so disturbing, but silence itself is a part of the problem. Just know that I don't bring this up lightly and I wouldn't share this with students of all ages. Read more on in the this topic in the accompanying article here. The filmmaker has explained why he was motivated to produce this, but not everyone thinks the message of the full documentary is fair and balanced.
Questions to Ponder (with a heavy heart): what cultural, political and demographic factors create the conditions where a situation like this can occur? What should and can be done?
This paper-puppet animation celebrates the life of Alfred Russel Wallace, who is co-credited with Charles Darwin for the theory of natural selection. Read the story here: http://nyti.ms/1fhBbGw
In the Winnie the Pooh Movie Pooh's Grand Adventure, the character Rabbit has absolute confidence in the printed word and especially the map.
Questions to ponder: How much do we trust any given map? How much should we trust a map (or the printed word)? What makes a document reliable or unreliable?
The best technologies aren't only the newest and the most expensive. We are often attracted to the latest and greatest and devalue the tried and true practices out there. Learning map reading skills is more important than ever.
"Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding."
To gain a global perspective inherently requires understanding multiple perspectives. Africa is frequently portrayed as 'the other' but also homogenized within a single narrative that 'flattens' truth. How can we teach and learn about other places in a way that develops geographic empathy and shows the many stories of that can belong to any one place?