Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
This is a clip from the TV show West Wing (Season 2-Episode 16) is a classic--how often does cartography plays a key role in the plot of a TV show? In this episode the fictitious (but still on Facebook) group named "the Organization of Cartographers for Social Justice" is campaigning to have the President officially endorse the Gall-Peters Projection in schools and denounce the Mercator projection. The argument being that children will grow up thinking some places are not as important because they are minimized by the map projection. While a bit comical, the cartographic debate is quite informative even if it was designed to appear as though the issue was trivial.
Questions to Ponder: Why do map projections matter? Is one global map projection inherently better than the rest?
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.
"For months, publishing giant HarperCollins has been selling an atlas it says was developed specifically for schools in the Middle East. It trumpets the work as providing students an 'in-depth coverage of the region and its issues. Its stated goals include helping kids understand the 'relationship between the social and physical environment, the region’s challenges [and] its socio-economic development.' Nice goals. But there’s one problem: Israel is missing."
In other words, Israel got eliminated from this atlas that was designed to cater to Middle Eastern countries that take umbrage with the fact that Israel...exists. Making maps always has political overtones and the company is now realizing that you can't please everyone with different versions for distinct audiences. Now, HarperCollins has pulled the book and will pulp all remaining versions of the atlas.
Elwood was a senior geographer working on the ground-floor of the very global positioning systems (GPS) and geographic information systems (GIS) he will throw up for discussion in his TEDx talk.
His question: Are we surrendering our innate mental map making abilities to technology and relying on and trusting it too much? And for TEDx audiences only, he’ll toss out ideas on ways to prevent that from happening.
Maps of countries, infrastructure projects, and invasions that never were — but might have been.
Without ever setting sail, Marie Tharp mapped the ocean floor and made a discovery that shook the foundations of geology. So why did the giants of her field dismiss her findings as “girl talk"?
I love this article, because it is a fantastic reminder of some excellent principles.
Inequality isn't just about money. It's also about information. The lack of reliable data about developing countries makes things like development work and disaster relief much harder.
There is 'mapping inequality' throughout the world; poorer countries often don't have comprehensive census information and geospatial data. Crowd-sourced mapping is seeking to change and improve geographic awareness, especially in moments of crisis. For example the maps of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea were essentially blank at the beginning of the Ebola outbreak but that glaring need meant volunteers were using geographic tools to improve developmental situations by providing more information.
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.
Maps have always been a source of fascination and intrigue. Today's maps, however, can also help to save lives during disasters, document human rights abuses and monitor elections in countries under repressive rule. This presentation will explain how today's live maps can combine crowds and clouds to drive social change.
On this Thanksgiving, I want to remind this community that geospatial skills can be used to help others. Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action? Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency. Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are hardest hit by natural disasters. Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets made by people like you and me.
Every so often, a hiker or a backpacker will run across something puzzling: a ginormous concrete arrow, as much as seventy feet in length, just sitting in the middle of scrub-covered America. What are these giant arrows? Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings solves the mystery.
This is fascinating...just because a technology is old and outdated in modern society doesn't mean it wasn't ingenious. The original mathematicians who calculated angles and distances study geometry so they could navigate and 'measure the Earth.' Before GPS, these giant arrows helped pilots navigate across the United States; they are part of the genealogical strands of navigational technology. Mathematics can be incredibly spatial as well as geospatial.
"Quick 1 minute tutorial on using BatchGeo to create a map. This example shows copying data straight from Wikipedia and mapping, but you can also use spreadsheets, databases, or any other tab delimited dataset."
Where do you live? Health specialists think that simple question could make a difference in how doctors prevent and treat diseases for individuals. That's expanding its storied role in public health.
This article highlights how spatial thinking and geospatial technologies can solve real world problems--in this case, tracking the spread of diseases is a spatial situation and not all places close to each other are equally connected to the same networks.
What do you do when presented with a new satellite image? Here's what the Earth Observatory team does to understand the view.
Aerial photography can be quite beautiful, as can satellite imagery. These are more than just pretty pictures; interpreting aerial photography and satellite imagery is not easy; here is a great article that gives an introduction on how to interpret satellite imagery. With a little training, satellite images become rich data sources (instead of some visually meaningless data). Using Stratocam, you can explore and tag some of the amazing place on Earth.
"Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers. Most state borders were drawn centuries ago, long before the country was fully settled, and often the lines were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, to coincide with topography or latitude and longitude lines that today have little to do with population numbers."
"This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is for people who know something about data analysis and want to learn about the special capabilities of spatial data analysis. Spatial analysis focuses on location to gain a deeper understanding of data. Spatial analysis skills are in high demand by organizations around the world. You'll get free access to the full analytical capabilities of ArcGIS Online, Esri's cloud-based GIS platform. Previous experience with GIS software is helpful, but not necessary for tech-savvy problem solvers. Could you and your career go places with spatial analysis?"
This course starts tomorrow...if you've wanted to learn about GIS with a no-risk on-ramp, this looks to be a safe bet from the worldwide leader in geospatial software. While a grad student at Penn State, I was a TA for a course designed by David DiBiase (the instructor of the MOOC), and I still refer back to that class as one of the best courses to teach geographic skills for the non-geography major.
This simple WebApp allows the user to compare areas that are hard to compare on a map or globe because of distance or the map projection. Competitive students love to hypothesize and then verify. This helps strengthen student's mental maps and their ability to make regional comparisons.
"Don’t let my New York City–centric comparisons hinder your imagination. The interactive at the top of this page lets you visualize how different parts of the country compare in population density.
Click the button at the bottom of the interactive to select Los Angeles County, for instance, and then click anywhere on the map to generate a (roughly) circular region of (roughly) equal population. The population data come from the 2010 census, and the square mileage was calculated by summing each highlighted county’s total area. You can also use New Jersey (the most densely populated state), Wyoming (the least densely populated state outside of Alaska), Texas, the coasts (the group of all counties that come within 35 miles of either the Atlantic or Pacific oceans), and, yes, New York City as the baseline for your population comparison."
Earlier I shared a dynamic map of near-live wind data for the United States and a static rendering of global wind patterns. This combines the features of both of those resources to provide a mesmerizing digital globe. This visualization of global weather conditions is updated every three hours from supercomputer data projections. Click on the 'earth' text in the lower left-hand corner to customize the display. For examining the wind patterns and oceans currents, this is much more useful than Google Earth; this is definitely one of my favorite resources.
|Suggested by Kristen McDaniel|
Join our FREE GIS Day World Record mapping event taking place during Geography Awareness week (Nov 17th -21nd 2014, video with more details). With a local to global perspective, we want students to map their thoughts and feeling about their local area.
They can add their data to a global map that is shared with the world. Help us achieve our goal of having 100,000 students take part globally. The event will provide great opportunities for:
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
Here's a somewhat regular argument I get in: Which states make up which regions of the United States? Some of these regions -- the West Coast, Mountain States, Southwest and Northeast are pretty cl...
Vernacular regions aren't defined by a one particular trait, but are how we think about places. These 'regions of the mind' are how we organize information about places, which is why these regions aren't sharp or precise. In a similar article, they investigate what we consider to be a part of the South using similar crowdsourcing data.
Authorities use Google Earth to crack down on illegal activities.
This is an old clip, but a useful platform to discuss the ethics involved in using geospatial technologies, the expectations of privacy and issues of governance. This could also be used to discuss urban political geography and principles of planning. What are the limits to the legal and ethical uses of technologies?
The boot-shaped state isn’t shaped like that anymore. So, we revised its iconic outline to reflect the truth about a sin…
Maps shape how we think about places. In mapping, we can reveal or conceal important pieces of information but sometimes the phenomena don't fit the easy binaries. In most places there is land, a coastline and then water (simple enough), but Louisiana's coastline is much more complicated with large regions being more of a coastal zone than a neat line. That accounts for some of the inaccuracies mapping Louisiana, but some lies are so convenient, that many people want the fiction to continue. It is comforting to think about places as permanent, and admitting that it isn't is acknowledging that there might be a problem. As stated in this article, "the boot is at best an inaccurate approximation of Louisiana’s true shape and, at worst, an irresponsible lie." To explore the issue yourself, this gorgeous interactive map pulls together some high quality source materials on a wide range of issues to look at this environmental issues of this region in a holistic manner.