Month: August 2011


Geography Education Specialty Group of the AAG

As some of you may know, I took up the mantle of Treasurer of the GESG this year. Since I have an audience to reach out to through the blog, I thought I would take some time to evangelize the GESG and encourage folks to keep it in mind as they renew their AAG membership to register for the annual conference (mere weeks to go to submit abstracts).

The mission of the Geography Education Specialty Group is:

To promote research, development, and practice in the learning and teaching of geography and to examine and strengthen the role of geography in education by focusing on the development of learners, teachers, curricula, and programs.

This clearly touches on anyone that is in the classroom, working in outreach, or really interested in how people conceive of Geography. There is obviously significant overlap with in membership with NCGE, but working as part of the AAG allows the GESG to build on the presentations and discussions of the larger group of educators and geographers in attendance at the AAG annual meeting. In other words…join both!

If you are a student studying Geography Education, be sure to check out the GESG’s Gail Hobbs Student Paper Competition. It is a great way to share your work and meet Geographers with a similar focus during the sessions (you know, there really are people outside your department). Plus, talk about icing on the cake, there are cash prizes for the competition! Student membership is cheap at $1.

For the non-students, whether you are an AAG member or will be applying in the future and are interested in Geography Education, be sure to add us to your list of Specialty Groups. It is a great way to keep up-to-date with Geography educators in the AAG, and the related activities going on at the annual meeting. Regular membership is a very reasonable $5.

The Birth and Death of Irene as Seen From Space

NOAA just released a fascinating video showing the birth and death of hurricane Irene as seen from space.  The video was created from imagery captured by the GOES-13 weather satellite.  This lovely new satellite captures a view every 30 minutes and has been running for a little over a year (more to be found about this satellite at the link).

Via Wired

A VerySpatial Podcast – Episode 319

A VerySpatial Podcast
Shownotes – Episode 319
August 28, 2011

Main Topic: Interviews with Sean McGrath of Propylon and Elsa Carlisle of Restore America’s Estuaries

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    Boldly Going Where No Maps Have Gone Before

    Some critics say the online mapping tools and free mapping tools are like chasing a moving target.  Well, warm up your running shoes and pack extra arrows in your quiver, because the latest version of ArcGIS Explorer Online is worth the effort to chase it down!

    Those of you who have been involved with the effort to integrate geospatial technology (GIS, GPS & Remote Sensing) into the classroom environment for the last 10 years or so know we’ve been through many changes in terms of viable solutions.  Didn’t you love ArcVoyager and it’s prescribed modules…so nice, and then AEJEE with it’s closer-to-the-real-thing features.  We began to embrace ArcGIS Explorer (now ArcGIS Explorer Desktop) virtual globe with it’s improving features.  As new tools came along, old ones die away…rules change.  The pursuit could be frustrating or invigorating depending on your tendency towards a glass half-full or half-empty mentality.  As things changed, you had to remember that these tools weren’t always built with educators and classrooms in mind, rather designed for business, industry and the general public.  The creative educators were utilizing the cools tools.  Well, the game is changing again.  Gone are the concerns for whether you have a Mac or a PC! (cue those hilarious commercials  Run it all in your internet browser!  Woohoo!

    So what’s possible?  Queries and shapefiles and map notes…oh my!

    I’ve created some examples and posted a collection of links to maps and data that are residing in my account space (for free) at There are samples of old lessons that are still on my website and in ArcLessons as well as some new ones, such as T.S. Spivet and Plessy v. Ferguson.

    I think the real treasure in these tools is more flexibility. As an educator, I can create the beginnings of a map and prompt students with the expected handouts; then, my students access that map, add more data and analysis to it AND…(drum roll, please) create a presentation using the built-in presentation features to assess their knowledge, thinking and communication skills.  We’re teaching many more skills than GIS with this tool and its features.  We expose students to course content, subject analysis, directed research, critical thinking, problem solving, story telling, persuasive writing and public speaking.  I challenge you to find me a tool that does all of that…in a web browser!

    There are great tips and information at the Esri blogs for each product.  Also the Esri Education Team’s blog has great educational insights and some step-by-step entries on using the tools as well as implementing the tools.

    Check out the blogs:
    Esri Education Community
    ArcGIS Explorer Desktop
    ArcGIS Explorer Online

    Thank you to Bernie Szukalski & the Esri team for bringing us a great set of tools!

    National Parks From Space

    Wired has a beautiful article highlighting the views of US National Parks as seen from space.  The views are simply breathtaking.  I think a lot of people in the US forget our National Park system features some truly majestic and amazing places on the Earth.  Looking at them from space gives a whole new appreciation of their wonder, if you ask me.  Furthermore, it highlights how critical remote sensing is to our modern existence.  Having this type of data available isn’t just beautiful, it’s important for understanding how our land changes over time.

    Each entry features a little background on the park and a couple of views from various sources.  The vast majority of the data comes from NASA’s Earth Observatory site.  There are a number of GeoEye images and one from the University of Maryland’s Global Land Cover Facility as well.

    South Sudan poll results

    With more than a month under its belt, South Sudan seems to be moving full speed ahead. There continue to be issues as expected with a new country, but growth seems evident as well. In July we asked you the question “What are your thoughts on South Sudan independence?” and 47 of you shared your thoughts based on the 4 options we provided:

  • About time (17%)
  • Hopeful (43%)
  • Concerned (26%)
  • South where? (14%)
  • To go along with the results, here is the UN admitting South Sudan.

    XKCD Gets It Right Again

    AND makes me feel like a slacker… If the artist wasn’t so great at this comic, I’d say he should become a geographer 😉

    XKCD: Depth Perception

    A VerySpatial Podcast – Episode 318

    A VerySpatial Podcast
    Shownotes – Episode 318
    August 21, 2011

    Main Topic: Greg Allard of the USGS

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  • Click for the detailed shownotes Read More

    Kansas Flatter Than A Pancake

    Don’t let anyone tell you that geographers aren’t cool! A group of three geographers from Texas State University and Arizona State University decided to test the old adage, “Kansas is flat as a pancake”. To quote the authors: “To the authors, this adage seems to qualitatively capture some characteristic of a topographic geodetic survey 2. This obvious question “how flat is a pancake” spurned our analytical interest, and we set out to find the ‘flatness’ of both a pancake and one particular state: Kansas.” Their method is reasonably sound and deliciously geographic! The results clearly show that a pancake has a flatness quotient of .957, whereas Kansas has a quotient of .9997 – what the authors call “damn flat”.

    Man I love geography!

    Team Garmin-Cervelo

    I get to make a cheesy statement here about how Garmin-Cervelo race team has found their way to the top in August with Garmin, but I think the picture on their home page explains it better. You can follow the official Garmin Team on Garmin Connect or sign up to support them via Facebook or Twitter. They have some really cool team apparel including some national champion bike jerseys. Jean-François Phillips has a blog called Tour de France or Bust where he is going to us a Garmin GPS to track the route of the 2011 Tour de France on a day-by-day basis starting August 27, 2011. He is doing it to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes. You can also visit the official Le Tour de France site to find out more about the route or its famous history.

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