Monday, September 30, 2013

The scarcity of water

Image above: Amazing representational visualisation from the United States Geological Survey showing the distribution of water on Earth - not a lot of fresh water really!!!

The image shows that in comparison to the volume of the globe the amount of water on the planet is very small - and the oceans are only a "thin film" of water on the surface. The blue spheres represent all of Earth's water, Earth's liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers

The largest sphere represents all of Earth's water, and its diameter is about 860 miles (the distance from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Topeka, Kansas). It would have a volume of about 332,500,000 cubic miles (mi3) (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3)). The sphere includes all the water in the oceans, ice caps, lakes, and rivers, as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant.

Water scarcity on Earth

"Our unique island home still claims the title of being the driest inhabited continent on earth, and with droughts projected to increase, it’s getting drier. Australia has the least amount of water in our rivers, the lowest run off and the smallest area of permanent wetlands than any other continent?. One third of the continent produces almost no run off at all; and our rainfall and stream flows are the most variable in the world. Three quarters of our land is arid or semi-arid and a massive 44 per cent is desert."

 Water has a place in the Australian Curriculum: Geography, appearing as a distinct topic in Year 7 (Water in the world) and as an important component of Year 4 in relation to the content description: "natural resources provided by the environment, and different views on how they can be used sustainably." Water has a further focus in the curriculum in the Year 10 'Environmental change and management' topic, where students can choose to study 'inland water' as an option to explore sustainability issues.

The image above showed us the relative amount  fresh water on the Earth, but where is the water on Earth?

Despite the amount of water that makes up our ‘Blue Planet’, water scarcity is one of the biggest problems facing our Earth. Water is an essential resource for life and good health. A lack of water to meet daily needs is a reality today for one in three people around the world. Globally, the problem is getting worse as cities and populations grow, and the needs for water increase in agriculture, industry and households. The health consequences of water scarcity, its impact on daily life and how it could impede international development is a critical issue for the geography classroom. It certainly has a place in the Australian Curriculum: Geography at Years 7 and 10.
The 10 facts about water scarcity on the United Nations World Health Organisation website (look at the related links on the page) provides some great information on water scarcity. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

World Vision website: a wealth of resources for Geography

The link to World Vision 
Many of you would be aware that the Patron of the Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) is Tim Costello. Tim agreed to be AGTA's Patron because he believes in the power of geographical education in schools to provide objective and considered views on the plight of millions of people around the world experiencing poverty, famine, war and other debilitating experiences foreign to most of us in Australia. Tim has been very supportive of AGTA and the development of the Australian Curriculum: Geography and wrote an excellent article on the release of the curriculum in May this year called 'Mapping out the world.

As the CEO of World Vision, Tim has done more than just talk, he has got his people to create wonderful resources to support geographical education (and other learning areas) in schools.  Since the publication of the Australian Curriculum: Geography these resources have been linked into the year levels of the new curriculum. If you go to the School Resources page of the website you will see that there is a fantastic array of engaging and relevant resources for the teaching of the Australian Curriculum: Geography. Just do a search to see what you find. Just to name a few, the topics include:  Child Rights, Disasters, Global Food Crisis, Climate change, Global inequalities, Overseas Aid, Water, Refugees and Migration. The site also contains numerous country profiles, simulations, videos and posters etc.  

Of special note is the recently released resource from World Vision (co-badged by AGTA) titled 'Australia's Engagement with Asia: Indonesia'. The resource contains case studies on water, food, urbanisation and human wellbeing. The resource includes six DVD chapters with related texts and worksheets developed by World Vision and AGTA. This is an excellent resource, highly relevant to the Australian Curriculum: Geography (you will never be able to eat cashew nuts the same again!) . The resource can be downloaded from the World Vision site for free. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Australian Curriculum and a focus on Asia

 Image above: Resources for the Australian Curriculum on the Asia Education Foundation site.

Related links
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Humsteach blog

GeogSplace blog  

Australian Curriculum Geography with a focus on Asia

As a priority in the development of the Australian Curriculum, the cross curriculum priority of Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia was given a focus. As stated in the online materials the Australian Curriculum: Geography provide students with "rich contexts to investigate the interrelationships between diverse places, environments and peoples in the Asia region.

The Australian Curriculum: Geography also enables students to study Asia as an important region of the world. Students can explore groups of countries, individual countries, or specific regions and locations within countries. In doing so, they develop knowledge and skills that help foster intercultural understanding as they come to appreciate the diversity that exists between and within the countries of Asia, and how this diversity influences the way people perceive and interact with places and environments.

Students also learn about the ways in which Australia and Asia are interconnected, both environmentally and socially, and how transnational collaboration supports the notion of shared and sustainable futures within the Asia region."

To support the teaching of this Cross-Curriculum priority the Asia Education Foundation (AEF) has developed a suite of excellent resources for teaching and learning with the Australian Curriculum: Geography. From F-10,  resources include:

* Foundation: Special places
* Year 3: Images of Indonesia
* Year 5: Life in a floating village
* Year 6: Connecting to Asia
* Year 6: Seeing beyond Asia
* Years 7: Damming the Yangtze at Three Gorges
* Years 7-8: Jakarta faces
* Year 7-8: Why dam the Mekong River
* Year 8: Urban growth in China
* Year 9: Shanghai: A city on the move
* Year 9: South Korea: Creating a sustainable giant
* Year 10: Measuring well-being

The following two units of work relevant to the Australian Curriculum: Geography are also worth a look:

The AEF have also 'sample mapped' all the opportunities to case study Asia across the Australian Curriculum: Geography. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Taking the step in mapping: Stepmap

Another new map creation tool has become available recently which has great application to the geography (and humanities) classroom. This Internet based mapping  program is called Stepmap and is marketed as a free (to schools), fast and simple tool to create customised maps. The program is worth a look and certainly is a great free mapping tool for primary schools and many junior secondary classes. 

The following useful videos from the Setmap site will get you underway using the program.

A very worthwhile section of the site is the Map Directory. The Map Directory contains all Maps created and published by StepMap users sorted by region or topic. Browse it to get inspired and see how others use the tool to customise Maps.

As the above videos outline, StepMap enables students to create personal, interactive and individual maps for topics of their choice. They can add various pieces of information such as images, videos, descriptions, audio files and more to any location on the map. Routes can also be added, areas marked and icons placed. The creation and customising of maps in Stepmap by students could be for describing their latest holiday route, a news story or simply to visualise information that's interesting to you and your friends or colleagues. In short, StepMap enables students to use maps in a way to be the central piece of their education

Please note: Schools, universities, teachers and students can use StepMap and the map download features for free (incl. the high resolution download). In order to activate those free premium features you need to write an Email to including your StepMap username. About the conditions of use of Stepmap

I certainly recommend you to have a go at using Stepmap and suggest it could be an answer to find a user friendly mapping tool for primary classrooms (and others).