Thursday, July 16, 2015

Locating in South Australia

 As the publicity blurb goes:

"Have you ever wanted to know where your nearest shipwreck is, or every earthquake location in SA since 1836? Maybe you want to check the high school zone of a house you want to buy … or want to know where the closest walking and bike trails are?  Or you know someone who wants to start a business on a road that has high traffic volume? You can check all of these things and more from the Location SA Map Viewer."

This brand new website (launched on June 28th, 2015) is a great resource for teachers in South Australia wanting to use spatial technology, combined with interesting local data -  however for spatial analysis purposes the site is highly relevant to teachers outside of South Australia as well. The wide range of Government spatial data has been combined on a single website, allowing easy access to everything from public transport to planning development zones and Marine Parks in one view. Location SA has data on landscape and water resources, environment and climate, land management, infrastructure and utilities, business and industry, society and events, and emergency and safety. The viewer can also be viewed as a road map, topographic map or satellite image.

The Location SA Map Viewer is part of the South Australian Government’s plans to proactively release data and make South Australia the best place to do business. Approximately 160 government data sets are currently available to view on the Map Viewer and more will be added soon.

This site is just another example of how spatial technology and associated data is becoming accessible to the classroom by being free, user friendly and visually uncluttered and attractive.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Economic thinking and geography

                                                                                         Copyright: Malcolm McInerney 2015

Image above: Thinking economically through the economic concepts of the Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business (not official ACARA work)

Related links to Spatialworlds
GeogSplace (a teaching blog for Year 12 geography)
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

Economics in geography

When writing the geography curriculum numerous discussions occurred on the need to have a commensurate amount of economic geography in the curriculum.  Lead writer Alaric Maude, a strong advocate for the economic branch of geography, highlighted the importance of students gaining an understanding of the economic aspect when studying geographical issues, events and phenomenon.  Whilst some may think economics is not geography, it certainly is a critical component of geographical thinking, whether studying development, industry, environmental protection, energy etc - in fact almost everything a geographer explores has an economic aspect. With the subject of Economics and Business as part of the HASS learning area it is certainly opportune to mention the integration possibilities of economics with the geography curriculum.  

 An Economics and Business Concept Wheel (not official ACARA work)

Just as is the case with the Geography curriculum, seven concepts can be identified as the 'thinking' core of the Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business. The concepts of Resources, Consumerism, Market, Globalisation, Choice, Work and Opportunity (and their embedded concepts as shown in the wheel below) can be seen throughout the Economics and Business curriculum and certainly resonate with the economic sustainability thinking in the geography curriculum. Whilst a work in progress and not official ACARA work, teachers are finding that the concept wheel below is an interesting way to conceptualise the Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business and to integrate the economics curriculum into the geography curriculum as they develop their learning programs. 

                                                                                                      Copyright: Malcolm McInerney 2015

At this stage it is worth looking at a definition of economic geography and see the synergy between economics and geography and that when thinking geographically it is impossible to not think economically.

Economic geography is the study of the location, distribution and spatial organization of economic activities across the world. .Economic geography has taken a variety of approaches to many different subject matters, including but not limited to the location of industries, economies of agglomeration (also known as "linkages"), transportation, international trade, development, real estate, gentrification, ethnic economies, gendered economies, core-periphery theory, the economics of urban form, the relationship between the environment and the economy (tying into a long history of geographers studying culture-environment interaction), and globalisation.

The Geography and Economics synergy
Whilst on about economics and geography the following information/resources are some good examples of how we must talk about geography when talking economics and vice versa.

* The top global economies: the world is a-changing

Just to get thinking going and elaborate my economic ignorance, this article from the Bloomberg Business site on the 20  fastest growing economies in 2015 was worth showcasing.

 The the 20  fastest growing economies in 2015

Summary of information:
Emerging markets in Asia and Africa still reign supreme: They're at the top of global growth projections over the next two years.
The world is expected to grow 3.2 percent in 2015 and 3.7 percent next year after expanding 3.3 percent in each of the past two years, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. China, the Philippines, Kenya, India and Indonesia, which together make up about 16 percent of global gross domestic product, are all forecast to grow more than 5 percent in 2015.
By comparison, the U.S. and U.K., which combined account for about a quarter of global growth, are expected to grow 3.1 percent and 2.6 percent this year, respectively. The euro area probably will expand just 1.2 percent as European Central Bank President Mario

China still remains the fastest-growing G-20 nation, even though the Asian economy is no longer expanding at the pace it did a few years ago. China's economy grew 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014 from a year earlier, and is expected to slow to 7 percent in 2015.
To counter that slowdown, People's Bank of China policy makers are boosting monetary stimulus. The central bank cut its benchmark interest rate in November for the first time since 2012. This month officials lowered by 50 basis points the deposit reserve ratio, which is the amount of reserves that banks need to keep on hand.
Nigeria, Africa's largest economy, is projected to expand 4.9 percent this year, according to the Bloomberg survey. Kenya will probably grow 6 percent in 2015, even as unemployment and poverty remain stubbornly high, with over 40 percent of Kenyans living below the poverty line.
U.S. growth forecasts for 2015 are coalescing around 3 percent even as the dollar soars to its highest level in more than a decade. As growth picks up, the Federal Reserve is weighing whether to raise interest rates for the first time since 2006. Their benchmark federal funds rate has remained near zero since December 2008.

* The other side of the coin - The economics of poverty
The poverty education website at is a great resource to show the economic diversity across the glob and try to understand and explain the variance

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Citizen Geographer

Related links to Spatialworlds
GeogSplace (a teaching blog for Year 12 geography)
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

Citizenship and geography

Way back in October 2011 there was a Spatialworlds posting on the concept of 'spatial citizenship' and the importance of the study of geography in the curriculum. In essence the posting highlighted that, "because of the power of spatial thinking and pervasiveness of spatial technology in our society in the 21st Century it is in beholden upon education to ensure that young people are fully aware of and skilled in the way of spatial thinking and the use of technology which can impact greatly upon them as citizens".

With the implementation this year of the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship I thought it opportune to revisit the relationship between geography and citizenship. In fact, the fifth aim of the Australian Curriculum: Geography is to develop students as:

  ... informed, responsible and active citizens who can contribute to the development of an environmentally and economically sustainable, and socially just world.

With this thinking in mind, The Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) has produced a resource for schools called "Being a Citizen".  The resources provides copious links and teaching materials to support the teaching of the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship. Just as is the case with the Geography curriculum, seven concepts can be identified as the basis of Civics and Citizenship thinking.  Geographers viewing this concept wheel can see that much of the discussional and inquiry work we do when investigating various geographical issues certainly resonates with the key concepts from the civics and citizenship subject. Whilst a work in progress and not official ACARA work, teachers are finding that the concept wheel below is an interesting way to conceptualise the Australian Curriculum: Civics and Citizenship as they develop their learning programs. 

Copyright: Malcolm McInerney 2015
The 'Being a Citizen' CD includes materials on;

  • Links to civics and citizenship teaching materials.
  • Political mapping classroom activities.
  • Social Issues worksheets and processes.
  • Links to curriculum documents and teaching materials on civics and citizenship.
  • Professional reading links on civics and citizenship education
The resource is available from AGTA at

Thursday, May 28, 2015

From whence they come

Image above: Where Adelaide's immigrants were born (excluding England and NZ)

Related links to Spatialworlds
GeogSplace (a teaching blog for Year 12 geography)
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

From whence they come: the origin of Australia's migrants, from area to area
This fascinating interactive map interface reveals the top three birthplaces for immigrants in suburbs and towns across Australia. An excellent resource for the Year 8 Changing nations unit and senior school geography topics exploring migration and change.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics – 2011 Census
Map created by Small Multiples

All you need to do is rollover suburbs with your mouse for detailed info. Zoom and drag for a view of other cities and the nation as a whole, or click on the following links:
Australia | Sydney | Melbourne | Brisbane | Perth | Hobart | Darwin | Canberra
 You can also access a map revealing birthplaces excluding English and New Zealand immigrants.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Making fun of geography


Image above:The GeoSettr site

Related links to Spatialworlds
GeogSplace (a teaching blog for Year 12 geography)
Spatialworlds website

Australian Geography Teachers' Association website

Making fun of geography

This posting showcases a collection of online activities to use in the geography classroom.

World Geography games: A collection of games involving labelling and shape matching on countries and geographical topics.

Spacehopper is a game based on Google Maps Street View imagery. Spacehopper shows a Street View image and you have to guess where in the world the image was captured. You can click the clue button to have the country identified before making a guess. After three incorrect guesses the correct answer will be revealed to you. You can play Spacehopper on a global level or you can specify that you only want to see images from a particular continent.

Smarty Pins is a Google Maps game develop by Google. Smarty Pins presents players with a trivia question that they have to answer by placing a pin on a map. Players earn or lose "miles" for correctly or incorrectly placing a pin on the map.  Geogrpahy is one of the games  available. 

Where is...?  In this game the name of a city is presented to the players and they have to click the map to guess where the city is located. Players are given immediate feedback on their accuracy in the form of a measurement, in kilometers, of the distance between their guesses and the correct answers.

Capital Toss is a free geography game from ABCya. The game has a state capitals mode and a country capitals mode. The name of a state or country appears at the bottom of the screen and three rows of capital names scroll across the top. When the correct capital name appears players virtually toss a ball at it. After ten correct answers players can choose a new ball. Three consecutive incorrect answers ends the game.

Math Trail provides an opportunity to ink geography with mathematics. Math Trail is a series of map based math trivia challenges. Each game follows a trail of locations that students have to find by using the clues provided. If they get stumped they can click "show location" but they lose the point value for the question. When they arrive at the correction location students have to answer the multiple choice math question presented to them before moving on to the next question in the trail.

Astronaut Scott Kelly has started a geography game, asking Twitter users to identify locations on Earth based on photos from space.

Nat Geo Games: Some great games from National Geographic.

GeoGuessr shows you a Google Street View image and a clue to try to guess where in the world the imagery was captured. Playing GeoGuessr is a fun way to get students to look at all of the visual and text clues they have in order to form a good guess as to where in the world they think the imagery came from.

Create your own games.
GeoSettr enables you to create your own GeoGuessr games. When you visit GeoSettr you'll see two screens. A map with a Pegman on your left and the Street View imagery for the Pegman's current location on your right. Move the Pegman around, zoom-in if you like, until you find the location that you want people to guess. When you've found the right location click "set round" to save the location. When you've set five rounds (locations) your game is assigned a URL that you can distribute.

Mission Map Quest, is a map-based tool for creating virtual treasure hunts. You create a series of clues that your students need to follow to identify places around the world. You can add as few or as many clues to your Map Quest as you like. When you're ready to have students try your Quest just give them the web address of the challenge or have them scan the QR code assigned to your Quest.