Geography Education
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Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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The Long Swath

"The Landsat's natural-color imager scanned a swath of land 185-kilometers wide and 9,000 kilometers long (120 by 6,000 miles)—an unusual, unbroken distance considering 70 percent of Earth is covered with water. That flight path—depicted on the globe below—afforded us the chance to assemble 56 still images into a seamless, flyover view of what LDCM saw on April 19, 2013. Stretching from northern Russia to South Africa, the full mosaic from the Operational Land Imager can be viewed in this video."

Seth Dixon's insight:

We typically see remotely sensed images as a single, still rectangular grid...this stunning video shows what the image collection process would look like from the perspective of the satellite.  This video is available to download in a variety of formats and resolutions.

Tags: remote sensing, geospatial, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

Francisco Javier 's curator insight, May 17, 2013 6:43 PM

The Long Swath | @scoopit via @APHumanGeog

Ishola Adebayo's comment, July 31, 2013 10:22 AM
pls do you have an idea on how to fix scan line errors on Lansat7 ETM images from 2003. thanks Bro
nativemedia's comment, September 25, 2013 12:27 AM
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Free Online Mapping Course

Seth Dixon's insight:

This podcast explains the MOOC Maps and the Geospatial Revolution.  It is designed to be an easy on-ramp to 21st century geospatial tools and any geography teacher hoping to modernize their skillset would do well to take this summer course from the Program of Online Geospatial Education at Penn State, taught by Dr. Anthony Robinson.  Click here to register for free.   

Tags: GIS, teacher training, mapping, cartography, geospatial, edtech, geography education, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

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Toronto at Night

Toronto at Night | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

Ironically, some land use patterns become more visible as the sun goes down.  There are some sharp borders in this image of Toronto that was taken by the Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield and it is a wonderful teaching image. 

Questions to ponder: Why is there such sharp divisions between the illuminated and obscure portions of the image?  What does this sharp division say about the land use patterns?  Would we see this pattern in the United States?  Why or why not?  What urban model(s) can help explain the spatial layout of Toronto? 

Tags: urban, planning, remote sensing, geospatial, Canada, models, unit 7 cities.

Lauren Jacquez's curator insight, April 17, 2013 3:45 PM

What urban model is this?

Scooped by Seth Dixon! | Geography Education |
Free site dedicated to help teachers educate and engage students using Google Earth
Seth Dixon's insight:

GE Teach is a phenomenal site, designed by an AP teacher to bring geospatial technologies into the classroom in a way that is incredibly user-friendly. This site allows you to use Google Earth with clickable layers. With multiple data layers of physical and human geography variables, this interactive globe puts spatial information in powerful, yet fun, student-inspired platform.  Click here for a video tutorial.

Tags:  google, virtual tours, geospatial, edtech.

Kristen McDaniel's curator insight, March 29, 2013 9:54 AM

Use Google Earth in the classroom with clickable layering of maps.  Great for bringing Geography into your classroom!

Geography Teachers' Association of Victoria Inc. (GTAV)'s curator insight, April 8, 2015 5:18 AM

GTAV Technology and cartography in Geography

GE Teach is a phenomenal site, designed to bring geospatial technologies into the classroom in a way that is incredibly user-friendly. This site allows you to use Google Earth with clickable layers. With multiple data layers of physical and human geography variables, this interactive globe puts spatial information in powerful, yet fun, student-inspired platform.

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NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East

NASA Satellites Find Freshwater Losses in Middle East | Geography Education |
A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.

"[This] data show an alarming rate of decrease in total water storage in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, which currently have the second fastest rate of groundwater storage loss on Earth, after India," said Jay Famiglietti, principal investigator of the study and a hydrologist and professor at UC Irvine. "The rate was especially striking after the 2007 drought. Meanwhile, demand for freshwater continues to rise, and the region does not coordinate its water management because of different interpretations of international laws."

Tags: water, environment, consumption, resources, environment depend, Middle East, Iraq.

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a perfect example of geospatial technologies can lead to a better understanding of how the Earth's physical systems are changing because of human geography.  Teaching geography is about showing how these systems are interconnected.   

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 19, 2014 9:24 AM

Water is a big issue in an arid area.  The fact that we can measure the amount of groundwater present in an area with a satellite is amazing to me.  The issue of water rights and control in this region will someday over take that of oil rights and use in my opinion.  Once people get used to free flowing water to use on demand it will cause problems politically when these sources of ground water inevitably dry up.

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NOVA: Earth From Space

NOVA: Earth From Space | Geography Education |
Detailed satellite images reveal the web of connections that sustain life on Earth.
Seth Dixon's insight:

"Earth From Space is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth."

This documentary shows something interesting for the physical geographer, human geographers, and geospatial technology specialists.  In other words, this touches on just about all things geographic (with cool images!).  The overarching theme is that so many things in this world that we wouldn't imagine are actually interconnected with excellent examples. 

Tags: remote sensing, geospatial, unit 1 Geoprinciples, physical.

Kenneth Holzman's comment, February 17, 2013 7:37 PM
Thanks so much for this link! I'd completely missed this on PBS, and it is EXACTLY the kind of video I'm trying to get my AP Human Geography students to watch right now. This is getting shared with ALL my kids ASAP. :-)
dilaycock's comment, February 18, 2013 4:02 PM
I just love that allows resources to be shared so easily, and in a manner that is so accessible to students everywhere. Thanks Kenneth.
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DIY satellite images

Cornerstone Christian school 7th grade science project. The effects of Altitude on air pressure and temperature. Cameras: GoPro Hero2 video footage. Edited B...
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is the coolest Junior High geospatial technologies project ever.  This actually recorded some nice remotely sensed images.  You can actually do something similar yourself with this balloon kit.  You can read about some successful attempts to do this with geography students and colleagues from @AndrewShears which can be seen here and another by @bricker that is worth looking at here.    

Tags: remote sensing, imagesgeospatial, edtech, geography education, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

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A Mysterious Patch Of Light

A Mysterious Patch Of Light | Geography Education |
If you are up in space looking down on America west of the Mississippi, one of the brightest patches of light at night is on the Great Plains in North Dakota. It's not a city, not a town, not a military installation.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This patch of light is baffled me since clusters of light on this image almost always are connected to high levels of urbanization and North Dakota has no major population center of that magnitude.  This is the Bakken formation, a new oil and gas field that is producing over 600,000 barrels a day.  The lights are oil rigs that are lit up at night, but even more because many gas flares are burning leading locals to call the area "Kuwait on the Prairie."  Oil men from far and wide are flocking to the rural, lightly populated area raising rents sky-high.  This has caused a huge localized gender imbalance, changing the demographic and cultural character of the region because of the drastic the economic and environmental shifts in the area (see the national gender balance here).  This is a great reminder that the physical and human geographies of a region are fully intermeshed one with another. 

Tags: resources, gender, environment, economic, migration.

Heidi Zumbrun Bjerke's comment, February 12, 2013 9:52 PM
Use google earth and you can compare the two images.
Mary Patrick Schoettinger's comment, February 12, 2013 11:55 PM
that's an excellent idea, especially to have students suggest what the light might be in the photo. The question is , is the bright light a one time occurrence or does it continue?J
Mary Rack's comment, February 13, 2013 6:08 AM
I'm having trouble installing GoogleEarth on my iMac. Looking forward to the comparison. Big adjustment after years in the PC world.
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What is Remote Sensing?

CIRES Fellow and NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati and CIRES Fellow Steve Nerem explain Remote Sensing and how it is used to study our planet. 'Like' CIRES…
Seth Dixon's insight:

These scientists explain some of the purposes and applications of remote sensing at a level that is accessible for just about any audience. 

Tags: remote sensing, geospatial, unit 1 Geoprinciples, K12.

dilaycock's curator insight, January 4, 2013 11:57 PM

Totally agree with Seth Dixon. This is a great video that explains remote sensing.

nzgeogeek's curator insight, February 4, 2013 12:21 AM

These scientists explain some of the purposes and applications of remote sensing at a level that is accessible for just about any audience.

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Discover Ancient Rome in Google Earth

"See Rome as it looked in 320 AD and fly down to see famous buildings and monuments in 3D. Select the 'Ancient Rome 3D' layer under Gallery in Google Earth."

Seth Dixon's insight:

What happens whe you teach ancient historical geography using modern geospatial technologies?  Great things can happen and new perspectives on the world can open up for students and teachers alike. 

Tags: historical, google, virtual tours, Italy, geospatial, edtech.

Giuseppe Corsaro's curator insight, August 13, 2013 8:32 AM

Guardare l'antica Roma così come appariva nel 320 d.C. e volare giù per vedere edifici famosi in 3D. Seleziona 'Ancient Rome 3D'  nella Gallery di Google Earth.

Neville R Langit's curator insight, January 13, 2014 9:56 PM

got to love google earth

Keith Mielke's curator insight, January 17, 2014 4:10 PM

It's astounding how modern technology can really take us back to ancient times to see how others not only lived but prospered.

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NASA - Image of the Day

NASA - Image of the Day | Geography Education | brings you images, videos and interactive features from the unique perspective of America’s space agency.

NASA has stunning galleries of images including this link to their daily image.  The big news today about the NASA images is that they have recently made the 172-page e-book Earth as Art a free download (PDF)

About the Image: Portrait of Global Aerosols

"High-resolution global atmospheric modeling run on the Discover supercomputer at the NASA Center for Climate Simulation at Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., provides a unique tool to study the role of weather in Earth's climate system. The Goddard Earth Observing System Model, Version 5 (GEOS-5) is capable of simulating worldwide weather at resolutions of 10 to 3.5 kilometers (km).  This portrait of global aerosols was produced by a GEOS-5 simulation at a 10-kilometer resolution. Dust (red) is lifted from the surface, sea salt (blue) swirls inside cyclones, smoke (green) rises from fires, and sulfate particles (white) stream from volcanoes and fossil fuel emissions." 

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TODALSIGS | Geography Education |


Seth Dixon's insight:

TODALSIGS is an acronym for remembering the most basic elements of a good map.  This interactive briefly explains what each of the letters represents and how it is connected to map-making.  If this particular introduction is either too advanced or too basic for your students, simply run an internet search for the term TODALSIGS to find many other lesson plans and resources that might be more applicable to your institution (including this example-rich slideshow).

Wade Lytal's curator insight, September 2, 2015 8:32 AM

Good review of TODALSIGS

Suggested by Nic Hardisty!

Gaza-Israel crisis 2012: every verified incident mapped

Gaza-Israel crisis 2012: every verified incident mapped | Geography Education |

This map shows each verified incident of violence in Gaza and Israel since last week's assassination of Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari.  Geospatial technologies combined with social media are changing how we learn about (and wage) wars. 


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Stunning Satellite Images of Earth

Stunning Satellite Images of Earth | Geography Education |
Exclusive timelapse: See climate change, deforestation and urban sprawl unfold as Earth evolves over 30 years.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This interactive feature includes various places that have experienced rapid environmental change in the last few decades.  This is a simple way to show the power of remotely sensed data as well as massive environmental impact of rapid urbanization and globalization.   


Tags: remote sensing, land use, environment, geospatial, environment modifyurban ecology.

Ishola Adebayo's comment, July 31, 2013 9:07 AM
good day Sir, pls need help on fixing scan line errors on lansat7 ETM images from 2003 using for example ArcMap9.3 or ENVI4.5 or.........thank you so much
Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, May 27, 2015 10:55 AM

summer work KQ2 key concepts: remote sensing, deforestation, desertification, land use, geospatial

Jill Wallace's curator insight, August 20, 2015 7:57 PM

Great images!

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Google Maps Engine

Google Maps Engine | Geography Education |

"Google Maps Engine makes it easy for you to create beautiful maps, share them with others, and reach your audience no matter where they are. It's built on the same platform that provides Google services to millions of people worldwide, so your users have a consistent and familiar experience wherever they are."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Google has become more and more involved with geospatial technologies and platforms.  This new Maps Engine (still in beta testing) appears to be Google entry into the world of GIS.  Maps Engine is not nearly as robust as ArcGIS Online or even Google Earth and it has many limitations (can't upload a CSV file with more than 100 data points, can't use KML or shapefiles, no archive of ready-made layers, etc). 

It's redeeming value lies in the simplicity of the platform; if all you want to do is draw your own points, lines and polygons on top of a map and be able to get started within 30 seconds, then this is worth exploring.  Those features are incredibly intuitive and user-friendly and I foresee various educational possibilities using this in the classroom, but am still 'test-driving' the platform.      

Tags googleGIS, geospatial, edtech, K12.

Johani Karonen's curator insight, May 8, 2013 4:08 AM

I love maps! Let's se what this little darling can do.

JoseMªRiveros's comment, May 8, 2013 10:06 AM
Francisco Javier 's curator insight, May 12, 2013 8:51 PM

Google Maps Engine | @scoopit via @APHumanGeog

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Astrobleme | Geography Education |

"Lake Manicouagan lies in an astrobleme in central Quebec covering an area of approximately 1206 square miles—an area half the size of Delaware. An astrobleme is a scar left on the Earth’s surface from an impact of a meteorite. Lake Manicouagan is the result of one of the largest identified asteroid or comet impacts on Earth. In the middle of the lake, on Rene-Levasseur Island, Mount Babel rises 3,123 feet into the air.

Lake Manicouagan is thought to have formed about 212 million years ago plus or minus 4 million years.  This happened when an approximately 3.1 mile-diameter asteroid crashed into Earth toward the end of the Triassic period. Some scientists speculate that this impact may have been responsible for the mass extinction that wiped out more than half of all living species."

Al Picozzi's curator insight, September 18, 2013 8:33 PM

This amazing picture shows how vulnerable the earth is to space born hazards.  This 3.1 mile-diameter asteroid might have caused 1/2 the living species on the earth at that time, 212 million years or so ago, to become extinct.  Man has the abilty to adapt to changes to the environment, unlike the dinosaurs.  The question is though do we have the ability to adapt to an event of this magnitude?  Hopefully we will not have to test out this question.

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Akimiski Island, Canada

Akimiski Island, Canada | Geography Education |
Scraped clean and weighted down for thousands of years by Pleistocene ice sheets, Akimiski Island in James Bay provides a case study of how Earth's land surfaces evolve following glaciation.

Tags: remote sensing, geospatial,Canada.

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, January 25, 2014 10:18 AM

This image tells the story of Akimiski Island's recovery after the last Ice Age, when it was covered with glaciers so large they sunk the island. The layered scarring on highlighted in the lower image was caused by waves as the island rebounded and rose along with the rising oceans as glaciers melted.


I wonder what forces are at work to raise the elevation of the island, possibly just decompression from the millions of pounds of pressure the island was under during the Ice Age.

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Maps and the Geospatial Revolution

Maps and the Geospatial Revolution | Geography Education |

"Learn how advances in geospatial technology and analytical methods have changed how we do everything, and discover how to make maps and analyze geographic patterns using the latest tools."

Seth Dixon's insight:

When I was a graduate student at Penn State, I was introduced to some great people and programs and I'm glad to see that the institution has continued to excel and be a leader.  You have probably heard of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and been interested in seeing how this might change higher education in the future.  This MOOC is a free 5-week course designed to be an introduction to mapping, GIS and geospatial technologies so you don't need to be a specialists with a mapping background: it's for beginners.  I know that many geography teachers tell their students about GIS, but are afraid to teach with GIS because they are worried that it will be too hard.  This is an easy on-ramp to 21st century geospatial tools and any geography teacher hoping to modernize their skillset would do well to take this summer course fromthe Program of Online Geospatial Education at Penn State, taught by Dr. Anthony Robinson.  For more information on this, see this annoucement from Directions Magazine and from Penn State News.    

Tags: GIS, teacher training, mapping, cartography, geospatial, edtech, geography education, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

Leigha Tew's comment, November 6, 2013 9:41 PM
GIS is redefining mapping skills. In 21st Century education, it is crucial that we communicate GIS literacy in our geography curriculums and classrooms. As a geography teacher it is, therefore, also crucial that I have a thorough and sound knowledge of this field. This course could strongly assist such an understanding as professional development throughout my teaching career.
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How are satellite images different from photographs?

How are satellite images different from photographs? | Geography Education |

"Satellites acquire images in black and white, so how is it possible to create the beautiful color images that we see on television, in magazines, and on the internet? Computers provide us with the answer.

Images created using different bands (or wavelengths) have different contrast (light and dark areas). Computers make it possible to assign 'false color' to these black and white images. The three primary colors of light are red, green, and blue. Computer screens can display an image in three different bands at a time, by using a different primary color for each band. When we combine these three images we get a 'false color image.'

Find tutorials and links to free compositing programs here."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Tags: remote sensing, imagesgeospatial, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

Ken Halpern's comment, March 1, 2013 1:23 PM
Very interesting to see how the process works. This is very helpful when trying to get a point across.
Conor McCloskey's comment, March 4, 2013 8:59 PM
The Electromagnetic scale always confused me in High School! Hahaha. I also didn't know that satellites only take pictures in black and white.
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Creating American Borders

30-second animation of the changes in U.S. historical county boundaries, 1629 - 2000. Historical state and territorial boundaries are also displayed from 178...
Seth Dixon's insight:

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.  

Tags: historical, USA, borders, time lapse, mapping, edtech.

Jesse Olsen's comment, March 16, 2013 1:04 PM
Betty Klug's curator insight, April 27, 2013 3:50 PM

I love animation maps.  Great for getting students interested in learning.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 6:36 PM

This video does a fantastic job of showing how the United States has expanded and grown since its original 13 colonies. While many today might imagine that our nation was simply always this size in fact over many years of colonization, land purchases and land grabs America has eventually become what it is today.

Suggested by Nic Hardisty!

Interactive Earth at Night

Interactive Earth at Night | Geography Education |
Seth Dixon's insight:

You've seen the this image as a static map, as a video and as an adjusted cartogram here before.  This link is especially intriguing because this same data has been added to Google Maps so a user can interactively explore this layer and compare it to daytime satellite imagery or a standard map (it can also be seen on an interactive globe on ). 

The first impulse of most students is to note when analyzing this image is to note that the map will show us where people live, where the cities are or some other comment that speaks to the magnitude of the population in the white areas.  Let them analyze this for more time, and they'll notice that population isn't the whole story of this image.  A place like India shines, but less brightly than the eastern part of the United States.  I like to point out that South Korea appears to be an island (because North Korea is literally blacked out).  Politics, development, affluence and population information are all embedded in this image.  As with all maps, the more information you have about the place in question (in this case, Earth), the more meaningful information you can extract out of the map.

Tags: remote sensing, images, mapping, cartography, geospatial, edtech, geography education, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

Giovanni Della Peruta's curator insight, January 14, 2013 11:54 AM

Thanks to Nic Hardisty

Giovanni Della Peruta's comment, January 14, 2013 12:02 PM
Very good comment, Seth
سعيد محمد's comment, January 15, 2013 11:03 AM
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Essays on Geography and GIS

Seth Dixon's insight:

This set of 19 short essays (around 3-4 pages each) is a great supplemental text.  I am eager to read them and other resources in the ESRI library.  

Tags: GIS, ESRI, mapping, cartography, geospatial, edtech, geography education, unit 1 GeoPrinciples.

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Remote Sensing Images

Remote Sensing Images | Geography Education |
It's already unlikely we'll get a view as good as the ones collected in "Earth As Art"
Seth Dixon's insight:

This article and the selected gallery is based on the free e-book "Earth as Art" which I've mentioned here before earlier.  This particular image is fantastic for teaching about geomorphology and river systems.  Students can 'see' the historical layers of a meandering stream winding it's way across the landscape.  Connecting the physical geography to human geography, analyzing the flood plains can help explain the land use and settlement patterns in this Mississippi Delta image.   

UPDATE: Here's another meandering stream image (Willamette River, Oregon) that shows the dynamism of fluvial processes quite nicely.

Steven Sutantro's curator insight, December 20, 2012 8:56 PM

the beauty of our earth...

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Black Marble: The Earth at Night

Black Marble: The Earth at Night | Geography Education |
“Nothing tells us more about the spread of humans across the Earth than city lights.”...

"For three weeks spread out over April and October of this year, the Suomi NPP satellite (jointly of NASA and NOAA) scanned all the Earth's land as it appeared at night. Scientists then mapped the satellite's data -- 2.5 terabytes of it -- over an earlier Blue Marble image, transforming that picture's daytime blues, browns, and greens into a nightime palette of blues, blacks, and gold." 

This video is a great compliment to the classic Earth at Night composite image as well as the adjusted cartogram for population density.  

Questions to Ponder: What do these lights "tell us" about human geography?  What does the intensity of the lights indicate?

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What Could Disappear?

What Could Disappear? | Geography Education |
Coastal and low-lying areas that would be permanently flooded in three levels of higher seas.

This interactive feature is designed to answer a simple, yet profound set of questions.  What areas (in over 20 cities around the U.S.) would be under water if the ocean levels rose 5 feet?  12 feet?  25 feet?  The following set of maps show "coastal and low-lying areas that would be permanently flooded without engineered protection." 

Mary Rack's comment, November 26, 2012 8:03 AM
especially good!