Baltimore’s painted screens

“Jan Crawford explores a unique folk art tradition going back 100 years – once seen on nearly every row house in the working class neighborhoods of Baltimore, as artists today once again embrace the tradition of painted window screens, an authentic connection to the city’s past.”

Source: www.youtube.com

This is tremendous example of an urban cultural landscape that is distinctive to a certain place (Baltimore) and a particular time period.  The practice of painting landscape scene on window screens began over 100 years ago, as a way to beat the heat, but still afford some form of privacy.  This aesthetic emerged out of particular set of cultural, technological, and economic factors. What was once common is now perceived as a folk art that is a worth preserving because it is a marker of the local heritage.  This is an excellent example to demonstrate a sense of place that can develop within a community.  This video has been added to my ESRI StoryMap that spatially organizes place-based videos for the geography classroom (68 and counting).   

Tags: place, landscapeart, folk cultures, videoculture, community.

Pumpkin Geography

“During the month of October, I take advantage of the pumpkin harvest to bring hands-on geography to my students.  After spending a month becoming familiar with the location of the seven continents and the major bodies of water, each student is given a pumpkin to turn into a globe. Students paint the entire surface of the pumpkin blue to represent water. Next, they use pushpins to position and trace the outline of each continent onto their pumpkins. They use actual globes as models and are careful to place the continents in the correct hemisphere. Then, they paint and label each continent a different color. They label the major bodies of water and use white paint to represent the North and South Poles.”

Source: www.nea.org

Happy October everyone!  The pictures above (from a friend’s website) show how teachers and parents alike can get children involved in a fun craft that will strengthen kids’ mental maps–all with a seasonal twist.  If you really love idea of pumpkin globes, you should also see this one.   

Tagsart, K12, fun, seasonal.

Speaking the “Language” of Spatial Analysis via Story Maps

“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.”

Source: blogs.esri.com

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? 

Tagsmapping, CSV, GISESRIgeography education, geospatial, edtech.

Aboard a Cargo Colossus

The world’s biggest container ships, longer than the Eiffel Tower is high, are a symbol of an increasingly global marketplace. But they also face strong economic headwinds.

Source: www.nytimes.com

This article and video from the NY Times is a great way to show the magnitude of the largest vessels that drive the global economy. These containers are symbols of global commerce that enable economies of scale to be profitable and the outsourcing of so many manufacturing jobs to developing countries.  The invention of these containers have changed the geography of global shipping and today the vast majority of the world’s largest ports are now in East Asia.  Today though, the biggest container ships are too big to go through the Panama Canal, encouraging China to build a larger canal through Nicaragua.      

Learn What Spatial Analysis Can Do for You

“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?”

Source: www.esri.com

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.  

Tagsmappingspatial, teacher training, GIS,  ESRI, geospatial, edtech.

A hard look at corn economics — and world hunger

Corn is not what you think. For starters: Most of the time, it’s not human food.

Source: www.marketplace.org

Land use practices that determine what is grown in a particular place are partly determined by the health needs of a local population, but they are more directly shaped by economic markets.  Over 75% of the corn produced in the United States is destined for animal feed or fuel; since global population projections are now supposed to be 11 billion by 2100, these are some important issues for us to consider before we are forced to reassess our societal choices.    


Tagspodcast, political ecologyagriculture, food production, land use.