Saturday, May 29, 2010

Map Quest(s)

I need a GPS chip implanted in my head. I really do. I can get lost – easily – in a very short period of time, and in traveling a very short distance. Ironically, ever since childhood, I have loved to pore over maps. Maps help to orient ourselves in the world (except for me, apparently), while also allowing us to dream about faraway places. There are all types of maps: regional, state, and country maps; road maps; topographic maps; climate and economic maps; physical maps; thematic maps; floor plans; store directories, etc.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with MapQuest and Google Maps – great tools that help you learn about an area or region, and help you to get there if need be. While there are lots of these typical kinds of mapping tools online, there are also many neat tools and interactive maps of a more esoteric kind. Users can track ships and aircraft in real time, view which stars and constellations should be visible over your house at any given time, and what types of seasonal fruits and vegetables are at peak season right now in any given US location. Using interactive maps in the classroom provides a great opportunity to expose students to different types of information, and adds an extra punch to lessons where two-dimensional maps are standard fare. This week’s picks focus on three different types of online mapping tools; all are guaranteed to capture students’ (and your) interest.

Live Piracy Maps
Subjects: Geography, Current Events
Grade: 6-12
No “ahoy mateys” here. These live interactive maps show all the armed robbery and piracy incidents currently reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre. The maps show positions of both actual and attempted attacks on ships around the world. Users can zoom in on a specific ship to view more information of an individual attack. Maps are available going back to 2005. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre is part of the International Maritime Bureau based in London, England, and is dedicated to the suppression of piracy and armed robbery against ships.

Test Your Geography Knowledge
Subjects: Geography
Grade: 2-12
Online interactive geography quizzes on a host of countries and geographical regions. There are currently 37 quizzes available, ranging from broad topics like continents and oceans, to more granular information such as provinces and territories in Iraq and Australia. Each quiz keeps track of your score, and allows students to see what the maximum possible score is. Users click on interactive maps to answer questions, or can type in the answers if desired. The quizzes are the work of Lyndsey McCollam of Lizard Point Consulting, who has created several browser-based educational activities.

Tunnel to the Other Side of the Earth
Subjects: Geography
Grade: K-12
Have you every wondered which part of the other side of the earth is directly below you? Use this virtual map tunneling tool to find out. FYI – it’s probably not China. This map is provided by Free Map Tools, a site that offers tons of free tools that allow you to measure, save, and send maps to other people.

~Joann's Picks - 5/29/2010~

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