Josh Williams: Google Earth and National Geographic
So want to know what it’s like to have both National Geographic and Google in your classroom filming a lesson you had five days to prepare for using technology that has never been used in a classroom? It is about the most awesome learning and teaching experience I have had in my ten year career.
Fast forward 6 months…
On June 26th Google released the education side of the new Google Earth for web. Part of that release, and the new Google Earth, was Voyager Stories created with partners like National Geographic Society. I was fortunate to be a part of an amazing collaboration among students, fellow teachers, Google, and National Geographic. If I could sum up the new Google Earth in a couple of words it would be “go, explore, engage.” If I could sum up National Geographic Society using the same amount of words it would be “go, explore, engage.”
There are three features that tend to bring in oohs and awes from educators and teachers. First, Streetview. I know Streetview has been around for ten years now, but students, and this teacher, loves to explore cultural landscapes of varying places. Second, the “I’m Feeling Lucky” icon on the left ribbon. Roll the die and let Google randomly send you around the globe. As you go from place to place, knowledge cards will pop up and give you information along with other interesting points of interest in the area. It is almost impossible to stop clicking and learning about places.
However, what is most promising for educators are Google Earth’s Voyager stories. These stories give content creators, like National Geographic, another channel to the classroom. The first classroom lesson ever given with this new partnership was students exploring and discovering with National Geographic explorer, Dr. Enric Sala, and his Pristine Seas project. Other Nat Geo Voyager stories include Helping People and Animals Coexist and, my personal favorite, A Storytelling Odyssey. In A Storytelling Odyssey, students can follow Paul Salepek as he walks across the globe. While there are other Voyager stories in the Educators tab in the New Google Earth for Web, teachers will find great curated content in the Nature, Culture, and History tabs within the Voyager menu. Some my personal favorites are This is Home (Culture tab) and What is Missing? (Nature tab).
All that stated (sorry I get a bit verbose when writing about geo technologies), what is the entry point for teachers and students? A great place to start for social studies is with National Geographic Society’s “Idea Sets” (https://www.nationalgeographic.org/education/google-earth/). To me, these short ideas demonstrate the power of collaboration among students, teachers, National Geographic Society, and Google. These idea sets mash together the content and pedagogical knowledge of National Geographic Society with Google Earth technological knowledge. If you are looking for what Google Geo Edu is doing for education, visit their new updated site https://www.google.com/earth/education/. This new updated site offers lessons, tutorials on geo tools, and inspiration for students and teachers across age and discipline.
Here are some links to get you started
National Geographic Society Google Earth site:
Google Earth Education site:
Simple Tutorial on the New Google Earth for Web by Peter Spiegel for #worldgeochat blog
Google Earth Basics (Part I):
More Google Earth Basics (Part II):
More Google Earth Basics (Part III – With Google My Maps):
Josh Williams Google Geo Technology Blog (Where I reflect on my geo-education geekiness)
Teacher Westwood High School | Round Rock ISD
Designer and maintainer of – geteach.com
Dr. Jim Petersen: Retirement
It is with both sadness and joy (for I know he has an active and exciting retirement ahead of him, with “experiencing fall Colors in the Rocky Mountains” at the top of his list!) that I announce that Dr. Jim Petersen has formally announced he will retire as of May 31, 2017.
Dr. Petersen came to Texas State Geography in 1980, the year before completing his PhD in Geography at the University of Utah. He served the department as Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor and was Assistant Chair in 1991-1992. In the 37 years Jim was at Texas State, the department grew from seven faculty members to the large PhD granting department it is today. As Jim writes, “we have benefited from a collegial faculty that recognizes the importance of maintaining the department's strength and reputation in addition to pursuing their own professional goals. This is an extraordinary, forward-looking department with an exceptional and productive faculty, a fine group of active, enthusiastic students, and a wonderful, hard-working support staff… I am fortunate to have had many great opportunities for professional and personal development in my career, and am proud to have been a part of this department and of the discipline of geography.”
Jim’s accomplishments are too many to list here, but I want to mention a few. In the area of teaching, he created and taught many courses in geomorphology and other topics; created and led study abroad programs in Germany and in other countries; created and led for many years the Big Bend trip. In the scholarship area, I want to mention the several editions of his now classic physical geography textbook; his edited books; and dozens of book chapters, conference proceedings, and journal articles. As concerns service, Jim served in several leadership position with the NCGE, including President in 2000; he currently serves in the Board of Directors, Friends of Enchanted Rock; and he was awarded several honors, including the Outstanding Service Award, Gamma Theta Upsilon, National Honor Society.
On a personal note, I want to thank Jim for his support, counsel, and mentoring, first as a faculty member and then as Chair. For this, I owe him more than I can say. A special thanks for taking on leadership of TAGE at an important time in our collaboration with the NGS, and I look forward to continuing and strengthening our relationship with Germany, a relationship Jim has cultivated throughout his career.
Finally, Jim is a Vietnam Era Veteran, having served in the United States Army Security Agency from 1966 to 1970. Please join us at the next ARSC for a proper celebration of Jim’s career and contributions to the department and the discipline.
Alberto Giordano, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair
Department of Geography
601 University Drive
Texas State University
San Marcos, TX 78666
Robin Manning: Hays CISD Education Foundation Grant
Robin Manning received a Professional Development grant from the Hays CISD Education Foundation to attend the National Council for Geographic Education conference this summer. Ms. Manning is a high school geography teacher at Hays High School in Buda.
Elizabeth Spike: Feeding Houston
By 2040, Houston Galveston Area Council projects the eight-county Houston metropolitan area will reach 10 million people (1). That means in one generation, 2/3 more people will need basic needs. How will the Houston area feed all those people? Can we feed everyone equitably, economically, and sustainably?
My students and I explored this question. We began our investigation examining the GIS web map I made at the TAGE workshop at Texas State University in San Marcos this past summer 2016. I named the web map, Feeding Houston.
Students observed one layer at a time, starting with Houston Income Demographics. Students learned where the wealthiest and poorest families live in Houston. They compared size and color of bubbles representing 2015 average household income and net worth. The larger and darker the bubbles, the wealthier the families were, and they were concentrated on the West side. Whereas, the smaller and lighter the bubbles representing the poorer families clustered around the East side of town, not far from the Houston Ship Channel.
Students compared Kroger’s grocery store data followed by local farmer’s market data. Both revealed greater frequency of locations on the West side of town. Finally we observed McDonald’s data---and to no one’s surprise the fast food giant was located everywhere. Clearly a pattern was emerging. My students empowered with data, could now begin to brainstorm how to solve food security problem for a growing region, starting with places very close to home. To see my map, visit http://arcg.is/2hdUyKy .
This activity was an engaging way to introduce the social and economic aspects of food security. It was used in conjunction with other thought-provoking activities like Is there a right to food?, Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance about Food Deserts, and The Tragedy of the Commons simulation using goldfish crackers.
Collectively, these experiences and the Feeding Houston map offered opportunities for students to think critically about values they have about food access and food security. We completed the chapter with a field trip to urban farms to learn about the environmental aspects of growing food in an urban setting. Students were challenged to determine the number of one-acre urban farms it would take to feed every person in Houston proper 2,000 calories for just one day…and would you believe it would take an area the size of almost two Houstons!