Geography Awareness Week November 16–22, 2008

Building Geographic Literacy

Since 1888, the National Geographic Society has worked to build and spread geographic knowledge. Geography Awareness Week began in 1987 as a celebration of the importance of geography in our lives. Every year, National Geographic creates a set of activities for teachers to use with their students and their families to celebrate geography. These activities can be found on the Geography Action Web site. In 2006, National Geographic began a five-year campaign, entitled My Wonderful World, to help people experience the power of geography.

Learn about the Americas

Bring the Americas to life in the classroom by investigating real issues that matter to the Americas—and the rest of the world—on a daily basis.

  Analyzing Current Hurricanes with GIS
Path of Hurricane Gustav as modeled in ArcExplorer-Java Edition for Education GIS, August 2008

Analyzing Hurricanes with GIS
Use the simple but powerful ArcExplorer—Java Edition for Education GIS software together with data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to analyze the paths, intensities, and numbers of hurricanes and tropical storms for the past 150 years. The map created from this lesson shows Hurricane Gustav bearing down on the Louisiana coast; the lesson includes using data from August 2008 while considering population density by county.

  Comparing Mount Saint Helens Before and After the 1980 Eruption
Digital elevation models of Mount Saint Helens, Washington, before and after the May 1980 eruption, as shown in ArcGIS 3D Analyst GIS software

Comparing Mount Saint Helens Before and After the 1980 Eruption
One of the most famous volcanoes in the Americas is Mount Saint Helens, in the state of Washington in the United States. Examine Mount Saint Helens before and after the 1980 eruption in three dimensions by using ArcGIS 3D Analyst software to create surfaces, determine what landscape is visible from a given point, and calculate the volume of material blown sky-high in the eruption.

  Get Local: Explore Your Community's Wild Places
Mapping and hyperlinking to a ground photograph for a local "wild" place�riparian zone on the slopes of Green Mountain, Lakewood, Colorado

Get Local: Explore Your Community's Wild Places
Does your neighborhood have "wild" places? What's wild? What's the character of the environment between your home and school? What's there? How do you relate to it? How does your perspective of local geography change between being on the ground and exploring from above? Regardless of where you live, engaging with the landscape means exploring spatial relationships between human and natural phenomena. Geographic information system (GIS) technology provides an effective way to visualize and analyze these places and your contact with them. There are many GIS tools available, from simple Web mapping to sophisticated applications. One of these GIS tools is a no-cost, Windows-based, 3D virtual globe—ArcGIS Explorer. Use this tool to take photographs, make sketches, and record videos of your favorite wild place, then map and analyze that place.

  Geocache and Recording
Finding a geocache and recording information on the quiz sheet

Geocaching: Quest for the Boulder Missing Map
Get outside! Set up and run your own high-tech treasure hunt by going geocaching with GPS receivers to explore the flora, fauna, people, and history of your own area. The course includes 21 questions. Students in this mission have to find the missing map, The Gardens of Humanity and the Amusement of the Soul, by Arab cartographer Al-Idrisi (1099–1166). The mission is fictitious, but this wonderful map and its title are real!

  Examining Local-to-Global Issues Using ArcExplorer-Java Edition for Education GIS
Examining land use from a Landsat satellite image of Washington, DC, using ArcExplorer Java Edition for Education software.

Examining Local-to-Global Issues Using ArcExplorer—Java Edition for Education GIS
Use the no cost, easy-to-use, powerful ArcExplorer—Java Edition for Education software to examine issues pertinent to the Americas and beyond, from local to global scale. For example, lesson 4 in the ArcExplorer—Java Edition for Education tutorial invites you to examine land use in Washington, D.C., while lesson 5 invites you to investigate the relationship of climate to landforms in the United States.

  Sea Level
Part of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast of North America, showing the coastline in the event of a 50-meter sea level rise, as modeled in ArcGIS software

Investigating Sea Level Rise and Much More Using Our World GIS Education
How do issues such as trade, energy, water resources, and climate change affect the Americas? Use powerful GIS software with spatial data and lessons from the Our World GIS Education series of four books from ESRI Press to find out. The image to the right, produced during one of these investigations, shows the part of the Caribbean and Atlantic coasts as they would appear in the event of a 50-meter sea level rise.

Bird's-Eye View—Using Satellite Imagery, GIS, and Remote Sensing to Study the United States
Investigate complex, relevant issues such as urban sprawl in Las Vegas, vegetation change in the Great Lakes, mining in Montana and Colorado, and earthquakes in California in this series of lessons that incorporates satellite imagery, aerial photographs, and GIS to make sense of the history and geography of the United States. The CD and lessons use ESRI ArcExplorer—Java Edition for Education software and are available from the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE).

  Tracking the Spread of Zebra Mussels
Tracking zebra mussels as modeled in ArcExplorer—Java Edition for Education software

Tracking the Spread of Zebra Mussels
Use GIS and free data from the National Atlas online to track the spread and distribution of invasive zebra mussels as they attach themselves to boats and spread across the waterways of the central and northeastern United States and southeastern Canada.

Are We There Yet? Analyzing Roadways of the United States
How long really is the highway that you are traveling on? Is it the longest in the country? What road is the longest? What are the busiest and the widest highways in the United States? Why are roads numbered the way they are? How many vehicles use the roadways in your community? Use ArcGIS to examine these questions and many more in an "on the road again" investigation of the nation�s highways.

  Field Data
Mapping and analyzing local field data in ArcGIS Explorer

Analyzing Field Data in 3D
Put your field data, sketches, notes, photographs, links, and videos into a single 3D mapping package for your project using these guidelines. ArcGIS Explorer allows multimedia to enhance learning about places, regions, and geographic connections.

Message in a Bottle: Exploring Ocean Currents
Use the ESRI Resources pages to demonstrate what spatial analysis is without any software required, thanks to ArcGIS Server technology. The Message in a Bottle tool uses a particle-tracking model to show where a bottle would travel after a specified number of days if dropped in the ocean and therefore serves as a wonderful illustration of ocean currents.

  Teaching about Watersheds with Online and 3D GIS
Watershed boundaries, rivers, and lakes from the National Atlas as mapped inside ArcGIS Explorer

Teaching about Watersheds with Online and 3D GIS
Without watersheds, what would happen the next time you turn on the faucet? Because they are a 3D concept, perhaps the best way to understand watersheds is by using 3D tools. ArcGIS Explorer is ESRI's no-cost, easy-to-use 3D virtual globe. Download watersheds and river data from the National Atlas for a quick but powerful way of analyzing watersheds in your area.

Interviews and Articles