Monthly Archive for August, 2011

Water Changes Everything

Did you know…

One billion people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water and sanitation—half of those are children. More than 2.6 billion people live without proper sanitation. One out of every six people lack safe drinking water and two out of every five people lack adequate sanitation.

Watch this video on the water crisis the world is facing and discover some of the solutions available.

 

Why Geography Education Matters

 Joseph Kerski, education manager for Esri and 2011 president of the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE), passionately believes in the importance of geography in the curriculum. “Geography enables students to understand their world locally to globally, make wise decisions about the planet and its resources, and become critical thinkers,” said Kerski. “Geography grapples with the key issues of our time—energy, water, biodiversity, climate, natural hazards, population, and much more.” In the following essay, Kerski explains why geography plays such a pivotal rule in education.

Geographic questions begin with the whys of where. Why are cities, ecoregions, and earthquakes located where they are, and how are they affected by their proximity to nearby things and also by invisible global interconnections and networks?

After asking geographic questions, students acquire geographic resources. They collect data such as maps, satellite imagery, and spreadsheets from their own fieldwork. They analyze this geographic data and understand relationships across time and space.

Geographic investigations are often value laden and involve critical-thinking skills. For example, after examining a map of cotton production in the USA, students investigate the relationship between latitude, altitude, climate, land use, and cotton production. After discovering much cotton is grown in dry regions that must be irrigated, students can then ask “Why is cotton grown in these dry areas? Should cotton be grown in these dry areas? Is that the best use of water and other natural resources?”

Finally, students present the results of their investigations using geographic tools such as web GIS and desktop geographic information systems. Their investigations usually spark additional questions, and the resultant cycle is the essence of geographic investigation.

Students study geography to understand that the earth is changing. Then they scientifically and analytically think about why it is changing. And they even dig deeper than that. Should the earth be changing in these ways? Is there anything that I can do about it or that I should be doing about it? This not only captures the heart of spatial thinking—inquiry and problem-based learning—but also empowers students to become decision makers, to make a difference in this changing world of ours.

Geography therefore is not simply just a “nice to have” subject for an already-crowded educational curriculum. It underpins, in my view, the critical-thinking skills, technology skills, citizen skills, and life skills that underpin all other disciplines. It is essential for grappling with the essential issues of our time.

Related Video

Why Geography Education Matters video.

Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene caused extensive damage across the Caribbean before making landfall in North Carolina, on the East Coast of the United States. It passed through New York City with relatively limited damage, but caused devastating flooding damage further inland in parts of New York State and Vermont.

Over 65 million people living on the East Coast of the United States from the Carolinas to Cape Cod were at risk. Due to the threat, state officials, as well as ports, industries, oil refineries and nuclear plants, promptly prepared to activate emergency plans; residents in the areas stocked up on food supplies and worked to secure homes, vehicles and boats. States of emergency and hurricane warnings were declared for much of the upper East Coast. Hundreds of shelters were prepared.

 

Hurricane Irene over the Southern Bahamas on August 24

 

Gales from Irene affected much of the Eastern Seaboard, extending from Florida to New England and as far inland as Pennsylvania. The winds, combined with soil saturation due to the extreme amounts of precipitation, uprooted countless trees and power lines along the storm’s path, leaving roughly 5 million power customers in the dark nationwide, some for extended periods of time. Coastal areas suffered extensive flood damage followings its potent storm surge, with additional freshwater flooding reported in many areas. The storm spawned scattered tornadoes, causing significant property damage as evidenced by destroyed homes. Throughout its path in the US, Irene is estimated to have caused up to $7 billion in damage (2011 USD) and at least 21 deaths, with the death toll still reportedly rising.

  

The Path of Hurricane Irene

  Hurricane Irene in pictures.

 

A Different View

An ideal video to use with parents and students at option meetings. The video gives a clear view of the potential of geography and helps communicate its value to young people through challenging and stimulating images and presentations. Download video here

Careers in Geography

“What are we going to do with geography?” This site provides an extensive list of jobs related to geography and offers details of the type of careers paths our students can choose.

 http://geography.about.com/od/careersingeography/a/jobsgeography.htm

Promoting Geography



There are lots of short video clips on the internet that show students the importance of studying geography.  Here are just a few.

 Right Here, Right Now

Geography Is Changing

Geography Matters

We love Geography

Why Geography Matters

Geography is a subject that studies the environment as the home of people. It seeks to explore how environments emerge by natural processes, how societies produce, organise, use and misuse environments, and how societies themselves are influenced by the environments in which they are located. Thus, geography studies the relationships and connections between people and environments, focusing on space, places, and regions, addressing and questioning both short-term and longer-term processes and their resultant patterns. In other words geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the Earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and how people interact with the environment.  In fact a major concern of all geographical studies is the relationship of humanity to environments at a variety of levels from the local to the global with particular focus on how such interactions can be managed and improved in a sustainable way. Geographers were, in fact among the first scientists to sound the alarm that human induced changes to the environment were beginning to threaten the balance of life itself. In this connection, geography involves the study of contemporary issues of sustainability such as climate change, disappearing biodiversity and the depletion of natural resources. Geography provides us with a distinctive set of skills and tools with which to explore environments and people particularly those associated with mapping and other forms of graphicacy.

Geography as a discipline enables us to understand the Earth we are living in from a spatial perspective. As a school subject it stimulates students’ interest in and a sense of wonder about people, places and environments. Moreover, geography enables students to explore and understand the relationship between human beings and the Earth. It provides also the essential background knowledge for the understanding of many important local and global issues such as climate change, availability of water resources and urban problems and how these could be resolved and manages in a sustainable manner.  Geography makes both a distinctive and a wider contribution to the curriculum.  It is an essential component in preparing young people for life in the twenty-first century. As the pace of change quickens, communications get faster and challenges to the environment multiply, a knowledge and understanding of geography is more vital than ever. 

Geographical education is indispensable to the development of responsible and active citizens in the present and future world.  Geography can be an informing and stimulating subject at all levels in education, and contributes to a lifelong enjoyment and understanding of our world.  Learners require global geographical awareness in order to ensure effective cooperation on a broad range of economic, political, cultural and environmental issues in a shrinking world. 

The main aim of this website is to bring together teachers of geography on a single platform, through which they can share good practices and resources in order to be able to make geography teaching and learning an enjoyable, creative and stimulating experience for our students. On this site one can access the latest documentation issued by the geography section within the CMeLD about new curricula, assessment reports, circulars, ideas for organising controlled assessment such as fieldwork and project work, links to other useful geographical sites and much more. Teachers who would like to contribute and share with us any of their resources are most welcome to do so. Our commitment will always be to make geography lessons fun.

Form 1 Geography Curriculum

The Geography Section will be holding a compulsory inservice course this year for all teachers presently teaching Form 1 classes. It is going to be held on 7th, 8th and 11th July and will focus on the implementation of the new Form 1 Curriculum recently published and which will be introduced as from next scholastic year. Other topics that will be tackled include Assessment for Learning, Differentiated teaching and Student-centred approach. Participants will also have the time to reflect on their teaching strategies, share ideas and explore ways how to make lessons relevant, effective and enjoyable.

Download course description from here.

3-day programme

Rare Earthquake hits Eastern Coast of USA

Rare earthquake measuring 5.8 strikes US east coast

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake centred in Virginia has shaken much of Washington DC and was felt at New York City and as far away as Toronto in Canada

The US Geological Survey said the earthquake was 800 metres deep. Tremors were felt at the White House and all over the east coast as far south as Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. But there were no reports of major damage or injuries.

Two nuclear reactors at the North Anna power plant in Virginia shut down after the plant lost power, but the company that runs them said there was no major damage. The reactors will remain shut until they can be safely restarted. At Reagan National airport, outside Washington, ceiling tiles fell during a few seconds of shaking. All flights were put on hold.

The east coast gets earthquakes, but they are usually smaller and the area is less prepared than California or Alaska.

Watch earthquake from CCTV camera

What caused the earthquake in Virginia 

Latest details from USGS

Worst Oil Spill in UK waters

Shell has finally stopped the leak from its faulty oil pipeline at the Gannet Alpha platform east of Aberdeen in the North Sea, ending the flow of oil undersea after 10 days of the worst oil spill in UK waters for a decade. Conservation groups have warned that marine and bird life in the area could be harmed, and fishermen have been told to stay clear of the Gannet Alpha platform– 112 miles east of Aberdeen– and the surrounding area. 

Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said: “We know oil of any amount, if in the wrong place, at the wrong time, can have a devastating impact on marine life. Currently thousands of young auks – razorbills, puffins and guillemots – are flightless and dispersing widely in the North Sea during late summer. So they could be at serious risk if contaminated by this spill.”

Greenpeace criticised Shell for not being sufficiently open about the progress of the spill, which was first discovered on Wednesday but not announced publicly by the company until Friday.

More than 1,300 barrels of oil have been spilled in the North Sea over this week.  Green campaigners said the incident raised questions over the safety of oil companies’ plans to drill in deep water in the Arctic, as the North Sea is generally supposed to be the safest in the world in terms of spills. Ben Ayliffe of Greenpeace, which has been campaigning to stop further oil-drilling exploration in delicate environments such as the Arctic, said: “The North Sea is supposed to be ultra-safe – we are told spills can’t happen there. Shell is looking to move into the Arctic where an oil spill would all but impossible to clean up. Events in the North Sea should give the company pause for thought.”

Shell made use of remotely operated vehicles to stop the  leak and to monitor the effects.required. 

                                                 The Gannet Alpha platform in the North Sea

You can find more on this North Sea oil spill here.