North Carolina World Geography Bowl

Last Friday (Sept 25) I attended the NC World Geography Bowl regional meet in Greensboro. The list of schools that participated was short: UNC Greensboro, UNC Charlotte, Appalachian State, East Carolina, and UNC Pembroke. Two PhD programs, 2 MA programs, and our little Geography minor program 🙂 I was surprised that more schools in NC do not take part in the event since there are so many schools around the state that have at least a few geographers on campus…then again I am not sure how WV decides its Geography Bowl team since I don’t think there is a WV Geography Bowl Meet before SEDAAG at all (anybody know?).

These 5 schools went through 5 rounds of 10 toss up questions (buzz in to answer) and 2 team questions. Each team took at least one round but it was UNC Charlotte and UNC Greensboro who were the top two teams in the round robin leading them to the final round. Before the final round there was an exhibition round between a group made up of members of ECU, ASU, and UNCP teams against a local high school team from Grimsly High School. The university student team pulled it out but it was close.

The final round was fun, if not entirely geography related at times, with two theme rounds based on the geography of movies. In the end it was the home team from UNC Greensboro who took the trophy this year. All of the teams did a great job and I definitely look forward to next fall for the next NC World Geography Bowl. I am also throwing down the gauntlet to other NC colleges and universities to make their way to next year’s NC WGB.

Google’s Project 10 to the 100 – Vote for your favorite idea!

You may remember Google’s Project 10 to the 100, which invited everyone around the world to submit ideas that “to change the world by helping as many people as possible.” Over 150,000 ideas were submitted by the deadline in October 2008, and between September 24th and October 8th, 2009 (that’s right, voting is open right now), everyone is invited to head to the Project 10 to the 100th website and vote for the finalists that you think are the best. Google is committing $10 million for the winning idea(s) to help implement them, and many of the finalists are certainly projects where geography and geospatial technologies are probably going to be a part of making them happen. After the winning ideas are chosen, Google will be putting out RFPs or other means of soliciting organizations for the implementation phase.

So, head on over to the finalists page, and cast your vote by October 8th!

License plate spotting – a fun way to learn about geography

Once a week, I like to check out my hometown newspaper’s website, and enjoy the fun small town stories (some of which are about people I went to high school with and haven’t seen in 20 years). This week, a fun little article caught my eye about 2 Penn Yan kids who decided to keep track of the license plates they saw around town during the summer tourist season. When you grow up in a small lakeside town that attracts a lot of tourists, it’s always fun to see the different places people come from.

Between late June and mid-September, Billy and Aeronwenn Lavin identified license plates from 47 different states (the only ones they did not see were Montana, Idaho and Hawaii). The kids kept a map and colored in each state as they identified a license plate.

It’s a really simple and fun way that kids can learn about geography, and also learn a little bit about their own hometowns and how it’s connected to the world around them.

October is RS month at VerySpatial

While November is the home of Geography Awareness, we are going to focus on Remote Sensing in October. We have a couple of interviews and discussion topics in line for the podcast, but we are planning some things for the blog as well.

On that note, we would like to know of any questions that you have about aerial or satellite remote sensing that we can answer on the blog or podcast. If so feel free to email us or even call us and leave a voice mail with your question.

VerySpatial TV 41 – Xtranormal

So, while perusing the latest and greatest stuff on the intertubes, I can across a cool site called Xtranormal, which offers you some fun tools to create your own animated movies online, without having to pay a lot for animation and editing software. There are different 3D characters, and you can add expressions, dialog, and animations to your movie scene.

You can sign up and make movies for free, and while there is a premium subscription for a fee, I think the free tools are plenty for dabbling in the 3D movie-making biz!

Check out my little sample movie

WWII Escape Maps, Monopoly, and Ebay

ABC News has a revisited the story of escape maps and tools hidden inside Monopoly games during WWII. According to the article, “The British secret service conspired with the U.K. manufacturer to stuff a compass, small metal tools, such as files, and, most importantly, a map, into cut-out compartments in the Monopoly board itself.” A very cute story about what happened to RAF escape maps after WWII is a picture in the book, “To The End Of The Earth” by Jeremy Hardwood, which shows women in 1945 buying a maps as scarves. A more in-depth story is in the book “The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers, from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit”. The Ebay U.K. site has many silk-printed escape maps for sale on their website.