Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Get students thinking about patterns and the 'why's' of history with a focus on the geography and movement behind the historical story. This is the link to some of the digital maps that can help you put history in it's place. For more lesson plans, click here.
How vacant houses trace the boundaries of Baltimore's black neighborhoods.
The map on the left shows one very tiny dot for each person living in Baltimore. White people are blue dots, blacks are green, Asians are red and Hispanics yellow.The map on the right shows the locations of Baltimore City's 15,928 vacant buildings. Slide between the two maps and you'll immediately notice that the wedge of white Baltimore, jutting down from the Northwest to the city center, is largely free of vacant buildings. But in the black neighborhoods on either side, empty buildings are endemic.
"Business graduates, students, and professionals can sign up today for a free online course to get the Location Advantage."
The Location Advantage is a free MOOC that will be offered by Esri in May 2015. It will last six weeks (2-3 hours of study per week). Registered students will learn how to collect, analyze, and visualize business datasets. You can register online for The Location Advantage.
"The research shows that kids who have tough childhoods — because of poverty, abuse, neglect, or witnessing domestic violence, for instance — are actually more likely to be sick when they grow up. They're more likely to get diseases like asthma, diabetes and heart disease. And they tend to have shorter lives than people who haven't experienced those difficult events as kids."
The hotspot maps of crime and poverty are correlated (not a big surprise), but this is another example of using spatial data to drive public policy. After making these initially correlations, they noticed a total lack of services, including medical care in the area that needed it most. This podcast is the story on how geographic analysis gave birth to a "clinic on wheels."
FEMA has coined a "Waffle House Index" to indicate the severity of a disaster.
A proxy variable is an easily measurable variable that is used in place of a variable that cannot be measured or is difficult to measure. The proxy variable can be something that is not of any great interest itself, but has a close correlation with the variable of interest. So if you can't order waffles after a big storm at Waffle House might not matter in the big scheme of things, but as this podcast demonstrates, it is a good indicator that the region has been serious impacted by a natural disaster--they are the canary in the coal mine that FEMA is using to help plan their relief efforts. This is in part because Waffle House's core area is in the South and is has a wide spatial network.
We are living in an era of receding glaciers, accelerating loss of species habitat, unprecedented population migration, growing inequalities within and between nations, rising concerns over resource depletion, and shifting patterns of interaction and identity. This website provides 11 geographic investigations aligned to the geographic questions in the NRC Understanding Our Changing Planet report. The report focuses on the future directions in the geographical sciences and how these key questions will guide research to help us understand the planet on which we live.
1. Relationships between people and the environment
2. Importance of spatial variability
3. Processes operating an multiple and interlocking geographic scales
4. The integration of spatial and temporal analysis
To ensure that this advantage is harnessed, the AAG prepared 11 modules within these 4 categories of key issue facing the world:
--Rapid Spatial Reorganization
This 12 question quiz is a great way to introduce students to spatial patterns of agricultural products in the United States. Sometimes just knowing regional stereotypes can be helpful, but being able to make an educated guess about where an agricultural product is comes from requires a basic understanding of economic and climate patterns. This quiz is a good way to test that knowledge and introduce them to these spatial patterns.
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.
"How much does size really matter? Judging by this tiny home in France, not a whole lot -- as long as the space is functional.
Space in a home matters, but the functionality of that space is critical. Geography is about spatial thinking, and this video promotes a different type of spatial thinking, but one that still will help geographic thought. As our metropolitan areas get more and more crowded, planning of this type might become increasingly common. What advantages to you see in interior design that seek s to maximize space? What are some drawbacks to a design such as this?
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.
"Spatial analysis has always been a hallmark of GIS, the 'numerical recipes' which set GIS apart from other forms of computerized visualization and information management. With GIS we pose questions and derive results using a wide array of analytical tools to help us understand and compare places, determine how places are related, find the best locations and paths, detect and quantify patterns, and even to make spatial predictions."
GIS is a key tool in spatial analysis, but it can also be a driving force in using math, science, technology and (yes) geography as interdisciplinary ways of teaching the curriculum. StoryMaps can be rich with images and videos, but also filled with data at a variety of scales. What stories can you tell in this rich, visual format? What visual template shown might lend itself best for that sort of project?
"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 18-stanza poem by Kit Salter, beautifully captures the importance of geographic thinking in any history/social studies curriculum. This was shared by Dr. Vernon Domingo and the slides of his keynote address titled, Integrating Geography and History are available here."
It was my privilege to hear my good friend and fellow geo-evangelist, Dr. Vernon Domingo recently as he shared ideas on the importance of integrating geographic analysis in historical inquiry. He shared a fabulous poem by Kit Salter, one of the pioneers in the Network of Geographic Alliances. I'll only share the first stanza here:
How can there be a separate scene,
For history without place
How can there be events in time,
For which there is no space?
Thanks to demographics, the Republicans have a virtual stranglehold on the House of Representatives.
The first reaction might be to blame partisan redistricting (a.k.a. gerrymandering) for the the political gridlock between the presidential results and House of Representatives. Gerrymandering does play a role, but the spatial concentrations and distributions of voting constituencies explain why the Democrats have recently won the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections, but can't control the House of Representatives. Metro areas are highly left-leaning, currently creating a national majority for Democrats, but that high concentration is a drawback when trying to win a majority of the seats in the House. This is a good article as a primer for electoral geography.
New research suggests that map reading is a dying skill in the age of the smartphone. Perish the thought, says Rob Cowen
Despite the gendered overtones of the article (that it's important for men to learn to read a map), this is some good advice, regardless of gender. The vocabulary and concepts of maps can strengthen spatial cognition and geography awareness. While GPS technology can help us in a pinch, relying primarily on a system that does not engage our navigation skills will weaken our ability to perform these functions. While it intuitively makes sense, that the 'mental muscles' would atrophy when not used, it is a reminder that an overuse of geospatial technologies can be intellectually counterproductive. So break out a trusty ol' map, but more importantly, be a part of the spatial decision-making process.
"Why are all the gas stations, cafes and restaurants in one crowded spot? As two competitive cousins vie for ice-cream-selling domination on one small beach, discover how game theory and the Nash Equilibrium inform these retail hotspots."
"The American policymaking sphere has long been dominated by political scientists and economists. While I have nothing against these disciplines, and acknowledge that they have made important contributions to our public discourse, I am also concerned that we have not always heard the full range of perspectives on important questions of the day. Geography has a different perspective to offer, and our public discourse is impoverished without it."
Spatial thinking needs to be infused into many of our public conversations, and geographers collectively need to find ways to be a part of them.
When streams emerge from mountains, they often spread out and deposit sediment in a distinctive pattern known as an alluvial fan.
In dry areas of interior drainage (such as Central Asia and the Great Basin in the U.S.), the human settlements are often clustered along the foothills of the mountains near landforms called alluvial fans. Take time to analyze this image (and this one as well); in alluvial fans and the agricultural patterns that people create on them, we can see some striking geometric and spatial configurations that show how human settlements are highly dependent of the physical environment.
"Football’s analytics are evolving quickly. Thanks to new forms of data and emerging kinds of analyses, teams, media, and fans are gaining new insights into on-field performances."
The more advanced metrics in sports are now spatial: analyzing where on the field a particular play is more likely to be successful. Conversely, scouting out opponents relies on detecting if a player has spatial tendencies on the court or field that might be exploited (for example, where is LeBron's sweet spot on the court?). This ESPN article shows how different teams and quarterbacks use the field in their offense schemes. Increasingly, many professions are embracing the power of spatial data and spatial thinking.
Dr Sarah Parcak uses satellite technology to unearth Egypt's ancient settlements, pyramids and palaces lost in the sands of time.
The uses of geospatial technologies are NOT limited to studying geography, but it is the bedrock of many research projects that involve spatial thinking (as demonstrated in this TED talk). Geographic principles and geographers can be very important components of interdisciplinary research teams.
"170 Years of the World’s Hurricane Tracks on One Dark and Stormy Map."
The common-core standards present an ambiguous message on how to draw information from maps and charts, Phil Gersmehl says.
Written by Phil Gersmehl, the author of Teaching Geography, this article shows how teachers can read maps to gather contextual information about places in a way that fosters deeper learning. The Common Core ELA standards emphasize a "close reading," but the examples of reading of maps and charts are often rather superficial. The National Geographic has recently produced Connections to be a guide for teachers of both geography and English to see how the two are interrelated and to promote geo-literacy for a more profound appreciation for spatial analysis and place-based knowledge.
"GIS has given us the chance to re-examine how the Civil War battle was won and lost."
July 1-3 mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and it seems only appropriate to share these rich, interactive resources to commemorate the event (this particular interactive feature uses an ESRI storymap template). This fantastic example from the Smithsonian Magazine shows how history teaching and research can be benefited by using GIS with the example of Gettysburg. Many student today visit the sites of the Battle of Gettysburg and get a greater appreciation of battle by getting a sense of the lay of the land and the challenged confronting both armies. National Geographic has additionally put together resources to display other Civil War battles. GIS is not a tool that is just for geographers; any analysis that requires spatial analysis can be mapped.