Creative Clever Objects by Martin Roler
Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over
Curated by Seth Dixon
I have used an "apple globe" is the past to symbolize geography education and enjoy this play playful artistic work. Oranges have been used to help students understand map distortion and well as map projections, so I thought this artistic rendering would be a nice fun addition to the set.
Two French photographers immortalize the remains of the motor city on film. Pictured above is the Packard Plant; luxury-auto maker Packard produced its last car here in 1956. To see more work by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, visit their website.
Bare with me here; this culinary hack shows several images that are helpful for explaining how map projections represent parts of the Earth (or the orange in this example). The Polar regions are often displayed in azimuthal projections which are most accurate near one specified point. Slicing the orange at the top and bottom is akin to creating polar azimuthal projections. Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) is a system that divides Earth into 60 "slices" with each wedge representing 6 degrees of longitude. Each wedge has a Meractor projection map with perfect representation along a central line of longitude. If we imagine the peel adjacent to one wedge has been flattened out, that is good way to visualize UTM maps.
After viewing news photographs from China for years, one of my favorite visual themes is "large crowd formations." Whether the subject is military parades or world-record attempts, mass exercises or enormous performances, the images are frequently remarkable. The masses of people can look beautiful or intimidating, projecting a sense of strength and abundance. Individuals can become pixels in a huge painting, or points on a grid, or echoes of each other in identical uniforms or costumes.
I found this on pinterest (where else?) and decided to share the geographically inspired craftiness:
1. Paint your nails white/cream
2. Soak nails in alcohol for five minutes
3. Press nails to map and hold
4. Paint with clear protectant immediately after it dries.
This also works with newspaper, but don't try it with NatGeo Maps because the paper is of too high a quality to have the ink bleed out; I would recommend using an old USGS Topo map.
What can I say? Horrible puns, crafty maps and gorgeous food presentations...how could I not share this? You can follow the progress of this on-going project as they add more beautifully silly food map puns to their series under the hashtag #foodnitedstates on Foodiggity's Instagram account.
Canada is a massive country, yet it has one of the lowest population densities in the world. Despite this, Canadians have made a wide impact on their land, much of it visible from aerial and satellite photography. Hydroelectric facilities, roads, mines, farms, ports, resource exploration, logging, canals, cities, and towns have altered much of the landscape over the years.
This is a great set of images showing the human impact on the environment, with a special nod to our neighbors for the north. These images have an artistic beauty and I hope every geographer maintains a sense of wonder at the details and beauty of the Earth.
"China is in the midst of a crackdown on what it describes as 'terrorism driven by religious extremism'. The campaign is focused on the western province of Xinjiang, home to China's Uighur ethnic minority who are predominantly Muslim."
China does not have a good track record of dealing with ethnic and religious minorities and the murals that can be seen in Xinjiang are a testament to that fact. This has led to many Muslims in Western China being attracted to more radical ideas. While I certainly don't condone radicalism nor China's heavy-handed tactics, I am fascinated by the cultural messages that are strategically being placed in the landscape to influence the politics and culture of the region.
"Windows on Earth is an educational project that features photographs taken by astronauts on the International Space Station. Astronauts take hundreds of photos each day, for science research, education and public outreach. The photos are often dramatic, and help us all appreciate home planet Earth. These images help astronauts share their experience, and help you see Earth from a global perspective."
Yes, these globes are precise archives filled with geospatial data and locational information--however, that pales in comparison to the artistic brilliance of the globes. These hand-crafted globes are truly works of art. Marvel at the merger of mathematical precision and artistic design that makes a globe such as these a cartographic gem. If anybody want to get me a Christmas present, you know that I love cartographic gifts.
How lopsided the the proportions of an urban street corner really are.
Most roads in the US are built for cars, not for pedestrians. Whether we're happy or unhappy with this, most of us are aware of it.
But this brilliant illustration, made by Swedish artist Karl Jilg and commissioned by the Swedish Road Administration, shows just how extreme the situation truly is — even in an urban business district that's designed with pedestrians in mind.
"When linguists talk about the historical relationship between languages, they use a tree metaphor. An ancient source (say, Indo-European) has various branches (e.g., Romance, Germanic), which themselves have branches (West Germanic, North Germanic), which feed into specific languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian). Minna Sundberg, creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, a story set in a lushly imagined post-apocalyptic Nordic world, has drawn the antidote to the boring linguistic tree diagram."
|Suggested by Mike Busarello's Digital Storybooks|
"Jan Crawford explores a unique folk art tradition going back 100 years - once seen on nearly every row house in the working class neighborhoods of Baltimore, as artists today once again embrace the tradition of painted window screens, an authentic connection to the city's past."
This is tremendous example of an urban cultural landscape that is distinctive to a certain place (Baltimore) and a particular time period. The practice of painting landscape scene on window screens began over 100 years ago, as a way to beat the heat, but still afford some form of privacy. This aesthetic emerged out of particular set of cultural, technological, and economic factors. What was once common is now perceived as a folk art that is a worth preserving because it is a marker of the local heritage. This is an excellent example to demonstrate a sense of place that can develop within a community. This video has been added to my ESRI StoryMap that spatially organizes place-based videos for the geography classroom (68 and counting).
"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.
"A former gang member from Long Beach, California, teaches break dancing to at-risk youths in Cambodia."
Be a part of the Tower of London’s major centenary commemoration for the outbreak of the First World War.
The news of this art installation this summer captivated the media. Art transforms the place, and the place breaths additional layers of meaning into the work of art. The result was an highly evocative and poignant landscape created to be a living reminder of multiple historical events and the wounds that war can inflict on a national consciousness.
"Burning Man takes place at the end of August every year in the barren and remote Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The weeklong festival is described by its organization as “an experiment in community, art, radical self-expression, and radical self-reliance.” Earth-bound photographers have chronicled the legacy of art, technology, design, and fashion at the event over the years, but we at Skybox wanted to know if we could capture the transformation of the city from space, with our constellation of SkySats. This is the result:
A full-fledged city of population 70,000, “Black Rock City” is built up in a matter of days, experienced for a single week, and disassembled just as quickly, leaving no trace."
Last week I posted about Burning Man, noting that the landscapes in this experimental culture are inherently ephemeral and fleeting. High resolution satellite imagery has captured the quick rise and fall of the Black Rock City. Perhaps the term 'rise and fall' might not aptly describe the formation and dismantling of a city of 70,000 people; it is more like the ebb and flow of the tide, certain to return again.
"An aerial perspective on Burning Man 2013, in Black Rock Playa, NV"
This annual arts festival with a strong counter-cultural ethos literally is an experiment in producing alternative urban and cultural geographies that reject normative regulations embedded within societies. These geographies created last only about a week, as an escape from the regular strictures of society. Burning Man celebrates alternative spiritualities and creates monuments to impermanence while allowing people to wear zany costumes. Many feel that in leaving behind ‘the real world’ they find their true home at Burning Man. The ephemeral alternative geographies then fade back into the desert but not without creating a visually remarkable place. Some feel that the festival has become too popular and famous to be what it truly was intended to be as the rich and famous descend on the playa as well.
Questions to Ponder: Part of Burning Man’s success is due to its impermanence; if this community were created to exist year-round, would it still work? Why or why not? Why do festivals like this attract so many? What does it culturally say about the participants and the societies that they leave behind?
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.
"Hands-on worksheet to play and review the circles of latitude from the Wise Nest."
With five satellites scanning the globe, DigitalGlobe has collected impressive imagery of planet Earth this year. Check out their top 20 images here.
"These jarring moments expose how Google Earth works, focusing our attention on the software. They reveal a new model of representation: not through indexical photographs but through automated data collection from a myriad of different sources constantly updated and endlessly combined to create a seamless illusion; Google Earth is a database disguised as a photographic representation. These uncanny images focus our attention on that process itself, and the network of algorithms, computers, storage systems, automated cameras, maps, pilots, engineers, photographers, surveyors and map-makers that generate them.”
The quote above from Clement Valla shows some of the problems with trusting too completely in a form of technology if you are not sure how it works or what its limitations are. What does he mean when he says "Google Earth is a database disguised as a photographic representation?" What does this have to do with the term metadata?
"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.