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.

Museum Day 2009- Free admission to participating US museums and parks!

Smithsonian Magazine, is sponsoring a great event here in the US on September 26th, Museum Day 2009. Over 1250 participating museums around the country will be offering free admission, which is a cool deal. If you follow the link above to the Museum Day website, you’ll find a Google Maps app to help you locate participating museums and historic sites in your area. You will also need to download the Museum Day admission card from the website and present it at the museum you’re visiting.

To make it even better, national, state, and local parks are also holding National Public Lands Day on Sept. 26th as well, which is a day for volunteers to help out with projects like planting trees. Last year, over 120,000 volunteers helped across the country. To participate, just use the interactive map on the website to find participating sites near you.

So, if you haven’t made your plans for next weekend yet, here are two great options!

Climate friendly news stack

When I sat down with the BBC News site today I was struck by the number of articles that are related to attempts to create green energy or cut greenhouse gas emissions. I will start off with the one that I found most striking, Hatoyama’s pledge to cut Japan’s emissions by 25% (1990 to 2020). This progressive goal clearly outstrips the 8% that Prime Minister Aso sought, though the 25% is connected to other developed countries pledging similar cuts. With the EU offering a similar cut will the US and other countries step-up to support similar pledges? At the same time the proposed UN climate deal to be agreed on in an upcoming summit in Copenhagen could be hanging ‘in the balance‘.

A couple of technical articles focused on the use of floating wind turbines to allow for offshore wind power farms to be created, and an initial deal signed for the construction of the largest solar array in the world in China by 2019.

However, despite the policy discussions and technical movements afoot, another article suggests that our broadening knowledge of environmental issues is not necessarily translating to a reduced global eco-footprint. Just as with Japan and the EU’s attempts to generate a global movement, we need to support grassroot movements at a broad level as well. Now if there was just a bus that I could take to work…

Associations/Groups – GISCI

Since I finished my GISP application and FINALLY sent it in I thought it was probably time to highlight the GIS Certification Institute. From their web site the GISCI

“provides the geographic information systems (GIS) community with a complete certification program. GISCI offers participants from the first early years on the job until retirement a positive method of developing value for professionals and employers in the GIS profession.”

While the GIS community itself seems to fall into varying camps regarding the issue of certification, GISCI offers an option for those of us who feel that certification should move forward. The organization has grown out of efforts and conversations at URISA and other educational organizations along with industry. GISCI’s certification process is experience based and relies on documentation of your education, GIS experience and your service to the GIS community (kind of a tenure process for GIS folks really). If you are more interested in a test-based certification you may want to look to the ASPRS.

While there is no universally recognized certification for GIS and geospatial technology professionals, I think that GISCI has made the most significant steps toward such a goal with at least 4,535 GISP members to date.

NYC’s High Line Park opens – cool new use for abandoned urban rail line

highlineI was browsing through some blog entries this evening, and saw a post from Inhabitat about the opening of the High Line Park in New York City, which is an urban park created from an abandoned elevated train line. I had not heard of this before today, but after looking at the photo gallery, this is one of the coolest projects I have seen in awhile. How cool is it to be able to take a relaxing stroll a couple of storeys above the street level, take in the nice landscaping and greenery, and even lay back on some cool wooden chaises that are fitted in with casters so they can slide along the old rail. Neat!

If you are NYC resident, or are going to visit the city, the High Line Park should be a must see!

ToxicRisk – mapping Toxic Release Inventory data

Mike from MapCruzin sent us this comment based on our December 2007 post on the MapEcos project, in order to let us know about a project he’s working on called ToxicRisk. Our comment system apparently didn’t want to play nice, so I thought I’d post Mike’s comment in full below, so that you can read more about the ToxicRisk mapping project and the US Toxic Release Inventory:

“Two weeks ago we launched ToxicRisk. It is based on Google Maps, as is
MapEcos, but uses the most recent Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) 2007 data
released March 19, 2009 by EPA rather than older 2005 data. We wanted to
make the maps as easy to use and fast as possible so my son Aran did all of
the program in house. He has released some of this programming to the
public domain and you can access it at CPAN.
Continue reading “ToxicRisk – mapping Toxic Release Inventory data”

Associations/Groups – Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Society

The RSPSoc – Remote Sensing & Photogrammetry Society is a UK-based academic association that looks at the application to education, science, research, industry, commerce and the public service of RS and aerial imagery. The RSPSoc maintains a significant number of activities and publications. The upcoming RSPSoc 2009 conference will be taking place in Leicester on September 8-11. Publications from the association include the International Journal of Remote Sensing (IJRS), the The Photogrammetric Record (PHOR), a newsletter, and proceedings from the annual conference. The RSPSoc website has a wealth of information including an educational area, public outreach, student community, and special interest groups.

The Green Effect – A Chance to Win $20,000 for Your Green Project

Just got my latest MyWonderfulWorld e-newsletter, and National Geographic and SunChips are announcing a new initiative called the Green Effect, which will award $20,000 each to 5 individuals or groups to implement their community green project.

The contest opens on April 22nd and runs until June 8th. You’ll be able submit your green idea to the Green Effect website (the submission page isn’t live yet), and on July 7th, 10 finalists will be announced (Each of the finalists will get a Flip video camera!). The finalists will be judged again, and there will be online voting as well. The winners will be announced around July 21st.

So come on out there! Get your green thinking caps on and, if you’ve got an idea that can help your community become greener, write it up and submit it!