Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Question Machine

EarthView is a question-generating machine!
When Kenneth C. Davis -- of Don't Know Much About Geography fame -- toured EarthView during the NERC45 conference, he soon realized that he was asking questions faster than they could be answered.

It was then that he described the beauty of EarthView as a tool for engaged learning so perfectly. On the outside of EarthView, people sometimes ask what it is for or how it can be used. Once inside, however, they ask about the Earth, and will do so for as long as they are able.

During the policy forum on geographic literacy the prior evening, one educator mentioned the value of having students work with multiple maps of the same area. EarthView offers a similar cognitive workout by depicting something familiar in a very different way.

The questions -- and exclamations of the sheer joy of learning -- were plentiful on the part of the Moran Middle School students who were attending NERC. Seeing the Earth in so many new ways was a thrill for these young geographers. They describe their experience as guest bloggers on BSU EarthView.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Geography Policy Forum

Source: Washington Post blog The Monkey Cage
This evening's Policy Forum at NERC 45 began with a consideration of this map. It represents the answers given by two thousand adults in the United States when they were asked to locate Ukraine on a map of the world. Although the most common answers are actually in Ukraine and the most common wrong answers are in Eastern Europe, the MCSS participants were astonished spatial distribution.

Not only are large errors -- averaging 1800 miles -- common, but as reported today on the Washington Post blog, the greater the error, the greater the likelihood that a survey participant favors military intervention. That is, Americans are most likely to support a war in a place whose location they do not know.

This was an excellent point of departure for the policy forum on geography education that was organized as part of the Northeast Regional Conference (NERC 45) of the National Council on Social Studies. After discussing some of the compelling reasons to improve geographic literacy -- both for employment and for effective civic participation -- the discussion turned to ways to promote geography on several tracks. The first of these is the continued expansion of public outreach programs such as EarthView and Family Geography Nights. Integration of these tools into professional development programs for teachers also has great potential to expand the reach of geography both in Massachusetts and throughout New England.

Finally, the group discussed ways to encourage Massachusetts legislators to approve Senate Bill 200, a no-cost, non-partisan bill that would recognize the importance of geography education and establish a commission to investigate ways to provide for its sustained improvement.


42° 06' 51" N
72° 05' 22" W 

This is the location of the Sturbridge Host Hotel -- and the gathering point of social studies educators from throughout New England. The 45th annual Northeast Regional Conference of the National Council on Social Studies is taking place in Sturbridge, a very convenient and convivial location. 
EarthView has been part of NERC since 2010.
Massachusetts geographers are pleased to be playing many roles in NERC 45, including a keynote presentation, various workshops, a policy forum and of course a visit from EarthView.

EarthView at NERC is currently featured on the EarthView blog. EarthView is a a joint project of the Massachusetts Geographic Alliance, Bridgewater State University Department of Geography and the BSU Center for the Advancement of STEM education.

The policy forum is being held at the hotel at 7pm on Tuesday evening (April 8) and is open to all. It brings together educators and professionals from fields that rely heavily on geographically-educated employees. This blog will carry highlights of the forum and information about future forums that would be required by the passage of Massachusetts Senate Bill 200.

Friday, April 4, 2014


Friday the Massachusetts round of the National Geography Bee took place at the Worcester Academy -- a central location in our state with a famous geographer among its alumni. Read all about this year's Massachusetts Bee on the EarthView blog.
Geography Bee entrants. Map: Jason Covert, BSU
Thanks to Dr. Boellstorff at Bridgewater State for preparing a large map of the state, on which entrants could show their home towns.

The field was so crowded with excellent competitors that an extra round was included to find 10 finalists among the 29 who had perfect scores so far.

In the end, as reported by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, the correct answer to a question about a 15th-century whaling station at Belle Isle in Canada allowed Nicholas Rommel of Lexington to advance to the National Geography Bee in Washington, DC. There he will meet journalist Soledad O'Brien, who will be hosting the national competition for the first time.

The winning answer had to do with the establishment of a whaling station in Labrador -- NOT at the island of the same name in what is now Detroit. It is purely coincidental that the Isle is home to  Detroit Boat Club Crew. Green and red arrows indicate traffic patterns for small boats around this island, which is both part of the United States and NORTH of Canada!