Monday, September 8, 2014

Hand-Harvesting is Hard Work

Mechanization has made the farming of many crops—lettuce and tomatoes among them—a lot less labor intensive. But some crops are still tended and harvested by hand, and it can be painstaking work. (NPR) Take a look through our new map layers on the world's leading food crops. Discussion Ideas Read through the NPR article… Read more

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Staple Food Crops of the World

Cassava Production
Have you visited National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive? The following activity highlights staple food crops around the world and maps layers of where these crops grow.

Staple Food Crops of the World
Where are some of the world’s staple crops grown?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Investigating Demographics through Population Pyramids in Live Web Maps

GIS Education Community
Posted on: Friday, June 13, 2014 9:00 AM
Author: Joseph Kerski
Subject: Investigating Demographics through Population Pyramids in Live Web Maps

For decades, examining population pyramids has been an essential part of geography.  And for good reason:  In a small amount of space, they illustrate the distribution of age groups in a country, region, census enumeration district, or other geographic area. Through studying them, one quickly gets some sense of the demographic characteristics of an area.  Population pyramids are a part of the "geoenrichment" capabilities in ArcGIS Online, so named because with a touch or two of the mouse, you have instant access to additional your demographic and lifestyle data that describe income, consumer behavior, market potential, and more. One easy way to get a sense for the possibilities available with ArcGIS Online for demographic study through population pyramids is through this demonstration web mapping resource.

Accessing the demonstration resource places you in Los Angeles County, but you can zoom and pan to other areas in the USA. In each case, the pyramid for the one mile buffer around your chosen point is shown, with comparison to the population pyramid for the entire county containing that point. The map must be at a medium to large scale. The pyramid for certain areas departs significantly from the characteristics for the county as a whole, as in the case below for an area in Orange County, California. What clues on the map indicate why the pyramid is so lopsided?

Population Pyramid for an area near two universities in Irvine, California
Population Pyramid for an area near two universities in Irvine, California.

Investigate areas containing college campuses, military bases, prisons, summer homes, retirement communities, and other features. As students begin to think spatially using these tools, ask them to pose hypotheses about the age structure of the population, and then test those hypotheses. Discuss the effect that scale has on age data. Discuss the impact that variables such as immigration, migration, economic conditions, local land use, and perception of place have on age structure. Discuss the past and future age structure of chosen areas. The possibilities are endless with this single web mapping tool. When you use geoenrichment in your own account, note that it does consume credits, but not in this demonstration tool.
When you're ready for more, investigate the other geoenrichment capabilities in ArcGIS Online.

View article...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Population Education's San Marcos Training Institute

Population Education will be co-sponsoring a facilitator training institute with the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education at the Texas State University San Marcos campus on September 20th, 2014. The facilitator training is open to educators who are interested in leading Population Education workshops for their colleagues at schools, universities and conferences around the region. This is an excellent opportunity for social studies educators within driving distance of San Marcos to become acquainted with innovative, interdisciplinary curricula that address a host of TEKS standards for geography, global studies and more.

Population Education will be providing breakfast and lunch on the day of the training, as well as a reimbursement of up to $200 to offset travel expenses (mileage/hotel). Participants will also receive 6 CPE hours, an extensive handbook of training materials and a variety of curriculum resources, including the latest edition of Population Education’s award-winning "dot" video, World Population. To apply, go to our website: and click on “Leadership Institute” under the “Trainers Network” tab. Complete the application form by July 16th and return it with a current resumé or CV.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

NY Times: The Way North Interactive

Are you following the New York Times' The Way North? For the millions of us that live along this road, from Laredo, Texas to Duluth, Minnesota, this story explores the complex communities along Interstate 35.

Currently on Day 19, start at Day 1 and travel north with this New York Times interactive.

#thewaynorth #geography

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Announcement: ConnectED Learning: ArcGIS Online Organization subscriptions for any K12 school in the US

From Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager

Just 25 years ago, life was very different for US residents. Few people used email, "the web" was about spiders, and "portable phones" generated more derision than envy. Schools had some Apple IIs or Macs or PCs, or labs, but nobody had hundreds of kids with constant access. How things have changed. Now, digital learning helps kids whenever, wherever. At least, "some kids."

In 2013, President Obama launched ConnectED, challenging business to help get all US schools into digital learning, with more devices, more connectivity, more digital content, and more training for teachers. Today the White House announced Esri's contribution to ConnectED: ArcGIS Online Organization subscriptions for any K12 school in the US. With major support from Amazon Web Services, kids in any US school can make maps and analyze data using powerful professional web-based GIS, anytime and anywhere connected, on computer, tablet, or smartphone.

These "Orgs" boost dramatically the already substantial power of public ArcGIS Online: more data, more tools, more control of sharing, more analyses, and integration with the full ArcGIS platform. But it's still just as easy to get started. Across the US, hundreds of pilot schools have shown that high schools, middle schools, and even elementary schools can learn content, investigate topics, engage deeply, and build skills that will carry into college and career.

We have also assembled resources — the K12 GIS Org — to help educators and students start learning, quickly and easily, and build capacity. A new document — the ArcGIS Online SkillBuilder — can help users scan through fundamental capacities, check off the items they know, and see a path. The examples will boost learners by bits and chunks, building the scaffolding required to succeed with an Org.

And we are re-launching the call to existing users of GIS to be a GeoMentor and help local schools, educators, and students — including one's peers — see and touch GIS. Help them get started. Kids today being taught like they were 25 years ago are dying of boredom, and worse. Let's unleash the energy and creativity of youth on the big challenges of our communities, country, and planet. All kids today deserve this, not just "the have's." Let's help all schools, teachers, and kids become connected learners, with ArcGIS Online!

Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Schools Program Manager

 View article...

Friday, May 9, 2014

How Do You Use the MapMaker Interactive?

National Geographic needs your help to find great examples of how educators are using the MapMaker Interactive in their teaching and learning environments. Please fill out this survey to share with us your great ideas and experiences teaching and engaging students with the MapMaker Interactive tool.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Elementary Geography Challenge

National Geographic is conducting the Elementary Geography Challenge and the Texas Alliance is looking for elementary teachers to participate in the challenge to identify Texas' Landscapes and Landmarks using GeoTours.

If you are interested or have any questions, please email Maggie at mhutchins at There will be a webinar on May 15 at 6:00 pm EDT to show us all how to create a geotour, how to work with copyright issues, and deadlines involved with the Landscapes and Landmarks challenge.

Please share this opportunity with your fellow teachers.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Improving Tornado Forecasts

04/29/2014 · by carylsue · in Current Event Connection, Geography In the News, Main. ·
Tornadoes left at least 17 people dead across much of the U.S. the past week. The devastation is a reminder that forecasting still needs to get better, says a leading government scientist. (National Geographic News)
Learn more about preparing for tornadoes and other natural hazards.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Can project-based learning save STEM?

Presenters and others attending the recent U.S. News STEM Solutions conference addressed the "STEM gap," the assertion that schools are not graduating enough students to fill future jobs in science, technology, engineering and math. The solution, according to some at the conference, is to do away with traditional lectures and introduce more project-based lessons. "You can't just attract kids to STEM," said Steve Woodhead, manager of global social investment for Chevron. "There has to be something for them when they get there." eSchool News (free registration) (5/2)