Viva Gentrification!

“In Highland Park, as in other Latino barrios of Los Angeles, gentrification has produced an undeniable but little appreciated side effect: the end of decades of de facto racial segregation. It’s possible to imagine a future in which ‘the hood’ passes into memory.  Racial integration is on the upswing.  For all the fortitude and pride you’ll find in Latino barrios, no one wants to live in a racially segregated community or attend a racially segregated school.”  

Tags: neighborhood, gentrificationurban, place, culture, economic, California, Los Angeles.


iScore5 APHG


iScore5, the app for AP Human Geography is now available in the Apple Store for $4.99. With five levels of questions at increasing difficulty, bonus and double bonus rounds and a study mode with extensive vocabulary, APHG students and teachers alike will find this a great test prep resource and a fun and engaging way to help students earn that 5 (open disclosure–I was a part of the team that developed content for the app, but am NOT receiving any money for promoting it.  I’m sharing it because I’m excited about this new resource).  

Tags: APHG, teacher training, edtech.

Map Projections

A map projection is used to portray all or part of the round Earth on a flat surface. This cannot be done without some distortion.  Every projection has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. There is no “best” projection.  The mapmaker must select the one best suited to the needs, reducing distortion of the most important features.  Mapmakers and mathematicians have devised almost limitless ways to project the image of the globe onto paper. Scientists at the U. S. Geological Survey have designed projections for their specific needs—such as the Space Oblique Mercator, which allows mapping from satellites with little or no distortion.  This document gives the key properties, characteristics, and preferred uses of many historically important projections and of those frequently used by mapmakers today.


This article chronicles 18 map projections, how they are mathematically rendered with their own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. 

Questions to Ponder:  Why do map projections matter?  Is one global map projection inherently better than the rest?  What is your favorite?  

Tags: Mapping, visualization, map projections, cartography, perspective.

Tide Makes Tombolo an Island

The historic abbey of Mont Saint-Michel became an island on March 21 after a rare “supertide” flooded a causeway.


Coastal physical geography produces some beautiful landforms such as tombolos.  A tombolo is created when sand deposits attach an island to a larger piece of land–think of it as special type of isthmus.  Mont St. Michel (picture above) is the world’s most famous example because of the iconic walled city with crowned with a striking medieval abbey.  As the tides fluctuated, the city and abbey were alternately connected or disconnected from the mainland.  However, a ‘super-tide’ that occurs once every 18.6 years wiped out the artificial causeway stranding motorists on France’s most visited tourist destination (I wouldn’t mind be stranded there right about now).  

Tags: water, physical coastal, geomorphology, landformsFrance,


Cartographically Inspired Fashion

I found this on pinterest (where else?) and decided to share the geographically inspired craftiness:

1. Paint your nails white/cream
2. Soak nails in alcohol for five minutes
3. Press nails to map and hold
4. Paint with clear protectant immediately after it dries.

This also works with newspaper, but don’t try it with NatGeo Maps because the paper is of too high a quality to have the ink bleed out; I would recommend using an old USGS Topo map.



Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan sign deal to end Nile dispute

Three African leaders sign an initial deal to end a long-running dispute over the sharing of Nile waters and the building of Africa’s biggest hydroelectric dam.


85% of the Nile’s water comes from the Blue Nile that originates in the Ethiopian highlands–it is the Blue Nile that Ethiopia has been working on damming since 2011.  The Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD) will be located near the border with Sudan (see in Google Maps).  Prior to this trilateral agreement, Egypt and Sudan received the majority of the Nile’s waters because of outdated colonial-era treaties that ignored upstream riparian states.  This explains why in the past, Egypt was so adamantly opposed to Ethiopia’s plan fearing that their water supply with be threatened.  Today though, the Egyptian President said, “We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development.”  

Tags: Ethiopia, Africasupranationalism, political, development, environment, water, energy, borders.

Topaz Solar Farm, California

The new 550 megawatt facility in California produces enough electricity to power 180,000 homes.

The modules are part of Topaz Solar Farm, one of the largest photovoltaic power plants in the world. At 9.5 square miles (25.6 square kilometers), the facility is about one-third the size of Manhattan island, or the equivalent of 4,600 football fields.

Construction at Topaz began in 2011. The plant was mostly complete by November 2014, when it was turned on and began to generate electricity.

Tagsenergy, resources, unit 6 industry, California, images, remote sensing.


Quiz on the Differences Between Sunni and Shia Islam

Most of the world’s major religions are made up of multiple sects or denominations, and Islam is no different. Islam’s two major sects are the Sunnis and the Shiites, and the division and interplay between the two is a major factor in the geopolitics of the Middle East. How well do you understand Sunni and Shiite Islam? Take our quiz and find out!


The ghosts of religious wars past are rattling in Iraq; The geography of the Sunni-Shiite division is incredibly important for a good understanding of world regional geography as well as modern geopolitics. This NPR podcast examines the  historical and religious aspects of this split to then analyze the political and cultural implications in the Middle East today.  Additionally this Pew Research article highlights the 5 countries where the the majority of Muslims are Shiite, with some good demographic data to add to the analysis.  Take this quiz to test your knowledge.  

Tags: MiddleEast, Islamreligionhistorical, culture.