Garrison Keillor on Oil

Garrison Keillor has featured in this blog before in connection with Lake Wobegon. I love his writing, and the updates that he delivers as part of the Prairie Home Companion show.

He has also recently written a very useful piece giving his thoughts on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, published in the Chicago Tribune, amongst other places.
It starts with some very 'geographical' meditations:

Aboard a Delta Airbus at 37,000 feet maneuvering around giant thunderheads, connected to the Internet via satellite, looking at dark gloop a mile below the sea, contemplating the death of a beautiful body of water, unable to think of a single sensible thing to do or say about this that would make a milligram of difference, and yet here I sit with a clear view of the situation, like a passenger in a car skidding slowly into the median.

Years ago, in some crowded gymnasium, a commencement speaker told us that we should pursue our education because Knowledge leads to Power to Effect Change, but I don't see it in this case. I'm flying in a jet airliner consuming oil as I observe a disaster caused by the demand for oil, mine, yours, theirs — and yes, there was gross corporate irresponsibility, zero government regulation, rank corruption in the Minerals Management Service, but growing demand (drill, baby) is what's pushing us toward the next disaster and the next and the next.

Well worth reading the whole piece, and also exploring more of Keillor's work if you're not familiar with it....

Glastonbury 2010 3

Images by Alan Parkinson (shared on Flickr)

The dust has settled, and the clean-up (probably) continues...

The GLASTONBURY website has a range of useful resources on the clean up and the efforts to reduce its footprint. I also enjoyed reading the blog of one of the food sellers near the Park stage.

It appears that a lot more people have taken their rubbish away, as they were asked to do by the organisers. That could be to do with the fact that it didn't rain this year, so the tents could probably be used again, unlike the previous year....
There was also no repeat of the flooding of previous years. (I was apparently very lucky in this regard...)

There was quite a lot of urination though, so it remains to be seen what impact that has on the groundwater, given the lack of rain so far this year.

One of the highlights of the evening shows was the ARCADIA fire show, which was spectacular, and also very crowded !! This video will give you a flavour of what we saw....

One additional element of Glastonbury this year was something that we missed. On the Wednesday, as we were parking our car, Orange took a photograph from the Pyramid Stage in an attempt to break the world record for the largest / most tagged photo.
See the photograph here at GLASTOTAG

London Lives

London Lives is the title of a repository of stories of people from London from 1690-1800.
Although more useful perhaps for social historians, it also offers some useful comparisons between the lives of Londoners then and now.

Eine A-Z

Ben Eine is a graffiti artist who left his 'tags' at numerous locations around London before deciding to turn his talents to more 'mainstream' art projects.

Ben spent months persuading the shop owners along a street in London to allow him to paint their security shutters.

An OBSERVER ARTICLE has some of the images of the shop fronts which occured as a result: an A-Z

David Gorman, who has an excellent Flickr stream as well as his other accomplishments has a good A-Z image of all the letters.

This fits really nicely with one of the missions in the MISSION EXPLORE book..

Map of Map MashUps.....

The MAPPYBIRTHDAY map is a map of maps (map mashups)....

Thanks to Keir Clarke on Twitter for the links...

This earthquake timeline is good, for example...

Anorak Magazine

Just subscribed to Anorak Magazine, which I have been following for a while and been really impressed with the quirky style and creative content. I also have the iPhone app.

Plenty of ideas for creative fun and activities.
Billed as the Happy mag for Kids.

I particularly like the paper city templates in the Birds issue that were created by Joel Henriques.

Would be a great basis for some creative work on urban areas...

Wiffiti Screen

Just created a Wiffiti screen for an event in Bristol next week...

Shelterbox in Brazil (and on Twitter)

Shelterbox provide, well, Shelterboxes...
These are a robust box, which contains a range of survival equipment, designed to allow a family to survive the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster of some kind. Each box costs around £500, and fund-raising efforts are often the basis for supplying a particular box.
The boxes are individually numbered, and each one can be tracked to the place where it was sent.

The Shelterboxes were in the news this week as they were sent out in large quantities to Brazil in the aftermath of a major flooding event.
The twitter feed for Shelterbox provided news, and also some pictures of the damage caused by the flooding.

A YOUNG SHELTERBOX area of the website provides further ideas and resources.

These would form a super context for learning, and also a focus for potential fundraising.
Put in a 4 digit box number to begin exploring the places that have been helped.
The boxes have been distributed around the world since 2001.

Recycled Island

An interesting article in the Daily Mail about an island that is apparently planned in the Pacific as one response to the growing amount of plastic waste that is polluting the world's oceans.


Links with the current voyage of the PLASTIKI...
Will make its way into my Bristol keynote for next week...

The website for the architects who are planning the construction has a range of useful additional resources and weblinks, such as this PDF MAP of potential climate refugee areas.

Glastonbury 2010 2

I'm back from Glastonbury. Last week I was at the festival with fellow members of the Geography Collective. We had a marquee and offered 4 days of workshops and activities...

We liked this fairly recent BLOG POST from the Microsoft Innovative teacher network blog...
It included a good description of what we do:

The book, and forthcoming mobile app, incites adventurous play through a series of challenging missions. Playful ‘research’ is at the heart of each mission so that explorers get to grips with geography, politics, science, sociology, psychology, history, science, religion and other subjects in a provocative, fun and engaging way. Think of it as your own personal licence to explore that fits neatly into your back pocket! The Geography Collective is committed to getting the message out there, so much so that royalties from the book will be invested in free copies of Mission:Explore for deprived children.

I appear to be on You Tube...

Coming soon, more like this... (whether you want them or not...)

Radical Cartography

Radical Cartography has an excellent range of maps and infographics which have been slowly building up over time.
Well worth a visit to explore...

Also check out the wonderful CRIME TOPOGRAPHY maps on Strange Maps.

An Inconvenient Sandwich

Image by Alan Parkinson

New Economics Foundation have produced a range of fascinating reports which I have made use of over the years, particularly the CLONE TOWN report which spawned a thousand field trips...
Their new report fits directly with the work that I did on FOOD over the last few months, and particularly the article on Geographies of Food that was published in the journal "Geography" in Summer 2010

"An Inconvenient Sandwich" looks at the wider impacts on the economy, environment and society of our addiction to fast food, which is itself a consequence of societal change. Having read through the report on the way to London the other day, I can say that it is a very useful document for planning a curriculum on ideas of consumption.

One way to reduce the impacts of purchasing an inconvenient sandwich is to reduce the impact of the packaging. Marks and Spencers, who use packaging which is slightly less environmentally damaging.

The window in the box is also made from biodegradable corn starch (like the bags used in Modbury and other locations
Image by Flickr user Julian- & made available under Creative Commons license

You can also follow the New Economics Foundation on TWITTER.

Tweet maps

Some interesting new TWEET maps of cities are appearing.
Section of the London one above...
Could be a stimulus for discussion...

Film Club

Film Club is a great resource for teachers.

This exciting scheme gives all state schools in England free access to an extensive film library including geography-related titles such as 'An Inconvenient Truth', 'The Day After Tomorrow' and 'March of the Penguins'. Funding is also available to help set up your school cinema covering items such as black-out blinds, cushions and popcorn makers!

There is a good list of films which feature what might be called "geographical" themes...

and remember, the first rule of Film Club is...

Back from Glastonbury

One of the 600 images I took - more to come and lots of Glasto-Geo stuff to come...
Just a hundred-ish e-mails to crunch first....

Gone to Glastonbury

Updates via Twitter @GeoBlogs until Monday :)

Picture by chelsea steve on Flickr - CC licensed

Dating your house...

I once went out with a bungalow... ;)

How old is your house ?

This site has a useful HOUSE DATING TOOL

Why not give it a go and see how accurate it is ?

Postcode Portraits

Postcode Portraits was a website I came across via a blog called the Daily Geographer.

The website takes a look at the idea of GEODEMOGRAPHICS, and the work of MOSAIC

A handy link from the site goes to a clip from the recent History of the Noughties programme...

There is loads of geography here with respect to the depiction of inequality...

Led me to the LANDSCAPE:PORTRAIT site (nice name :) )

Why not use a site like UP MY STREET to find out which ACORN type your neighbourhood, or the area around the school is, and then enquire into the accuracy of the description.

Psychogeography by the sea....

An interesting exchange on Twitter this morning...
Led me to some nice work on Hunstanton.
It's the work of Tina Richardson, who is a Cultural Studies PhD student at the University of Leeds. She has been exploring areas of Hunstanton. They are mapped using techniques that relate to the idea of "Psychogeography"....

ARCADES PROMENADES is one of the outcomes of Tina's work.

Don't forget my earlier early-morning virtual tour of Hunstanton that I did 2 years ago.

Glastonbury 2010 2

A warm day here in Norfolk, and am just finishing off a few projects.

A good photo gallery of 40 years of Glastonbury is on the BBC website.
We have also produced a special FESTIVAL EDITION of Mission Explore...
Download it from our BLOG.
Here's one to do on the way to the festival...

Never mind eye spy!
On your way to the festival... something massive, fast, noisy, fluffy, tasty, rough, gorgeous, pink and sheep like...
...sniff something right, wrong, beautiful, invisible, round, high, friendly, stinky, tickly, else...
...feel something sticky, quiet, wet, body temperature, later, fury, with love, green, crisp...
...hear something distant, moo, nibble, lock, lift, list, swish, swash, zoom, meow, sound...
...taste something brown, something else brown, incredible, sour, that’s part of you, now.
Cross them out as you go!

Your iPhone know where you are...

A feature in 'Wired' magazine a few issues ago talked about the introduction of new direct marketing technologies based on the use of things like geo-location and face recognition.

The recent update for the iPhone's Operating System to iOS4 has added quite a few new features to the 3GS that I have (not all of the ones listed are relevant to it though)

This BLOG POST describes the implications of the change in the EULA wording.
Plenty of geographical scope here....

Primary National Geography (and History) conference

There was a Primary National conference this week in Manchester for Primary colleagues.
Learning from the past, living in the present, shaping the future.

Thanks to my colleague Paula Owens for telling me about the materials that have started to appear on the GA's website. The event also involved the Historical Association.

The resources can be downloaded from HERE.

Calling South / West Yorkshire teachers...

My grandad was a coal miner, as were many of my family. A good proportion of the lads in my form group at school went down Maltby or Silverwood Pit when they left school...

This opportunity to get involved in a new coal mining project in Wakefield has just been passed through to me:

"The National Coal Mining Museum for England is currently involved in a Heritage Lottery funded project to improve and expand its underground tour. Throughout the design phase we have involved a number of stakeholder groups to identify themes and elements that can be included in this development.

A key part of the provision of the project is for both Primary and Secondary Schools. Up to now we have held a number of consultation meetings with Primary School Teachers, but we are now looking to put together a consultation group for the Secondary Curriculum. The key subject areas we have identified are History, Science and Geography. In the course of the many projects we have run on site, we have built up a number of willing contacts in the areas of both History and Science, and while we are sure that we have good links to the KS3 Geography Curriculum, we do not have any contacts in this area.

We are in the process of speaking to those schools that we deal with on a frequent basis, but would appreciate any further advice: we would like to recruit individuals who may wish to join our Secondary Curriculum Consultation Group, who have expertise in the area of the Secondary Geography Curriculum and its delivery?

The only commitment that we would ask is that they are able to attend the group meetings, held at the Museum in the early evening for a couple of hours once a term, at the most. When we have particular questions we may ‘phone or email group members between meetings.

In return, in addition to the knowledge that they have helped shape the project and the CPD and networking benefits from attending, individuals will be invited to bring some of the first school groups to pilot some of the new underground areas. It is hoped these will be open in 2012. For individuals who attend the meetings, we are able to pay travel expenses up to £15, and will of course provide coffee and cakes when we meet.

We are looking to hold our first meeting early in July, which I know is very short notice, however, we will be more than happy to accept members to the group who are unable to attend this first meeting. While it would be great to have people who are familiar with our site, it is far more preferable that individuals are enthusiastic and willing to help – we can always provide an ‘introduction to our site’ session for individuals who have not visited us.

Many thanks for you assistance in this matter, I look forward to hearing from you,

Best wishes,

Stuart D. Berry

Assistant Education Officer

National Coal Mining Museum for England


West Yorkshire, WF4 4RH

Tel: 01924 848806


If you can help, please get in touch with Stuart.

Image by patrick h. lauke - Flickr CC licensed... thanks

Stuff your rucksack

A website set up by TV presenter Kate Humble which aims to help travellers who want to take something in the spare space in their rucksack (or suitcase) which might be of use in the place that they are visiting.
There is an interactive map which you can zoom into to discover projects which are happening in an area of the world that you might be visiting (although you have to go a little beyond Skegness...)

For example, here's a project that needs support in the Central African Republic. The website will tell you what they need...The site suggests a list of the sort of small items that you might have space for to STUFF YOUR RUCKSACK with that the project would find helpful.
Some stories of successful meetings are included...

As Kate Humble says on the website:

My Stuff Your Rucksack journey began in 1999 in a remote oasis village 200km north of Timbuktu. Having spent 35 days crossing the Sahara I visited a school, where the children wanted to know how long it would take for me to get home (in camel days). I drew lines in the sand, but when I discovered they had no concept of the sea, I realised we wouldn’t get far without a world map. I would have brought one with me, if I’d known it would’ve made all the difference.

Pack a bag, change a life

I am determined to go back to Mali to deliver that map. I am also determined that no traveller experiences the same frustration of arriving at a small, inspiring project to learn the items they need cost practically nothing, and are sat at home on the kitchen table. is a small charity that’s light on its feet so it can deliver direct action. We’re not here to encourage begging; we’re here to show how a simple gesture can bring indescribable joy....

Real Estate

Thanks to Hodder Geography for the tip off to this video by Jonathan Weston.
It is hosted on the VIMEO film sharing site...

Hodder suggested that it would make a good starter for exploring various urban issues...

Real Estate from Jonathan Weston on Vimeo.

This animation sardonically shows what happens when real life infects the imagery of a glossy property advert. Exploiting the familiar style of architectural visualisation, the film tracks the advert’s increasingly reactionary responses to escalating urban events.

Take a look and see what you think...

Geography Awareness Week

This week is Geography Awareness Week...
Hopefully many schools will be doing some specific activity which might involve the materials that have been downloaded from the GA website using the link above.

Richard Gill at the GA would love to hear from you, and if you have any images that you are happy for us to use that would be great too...

Like taking Baguettes to Brest ?

Image by Alan Parkinson

or Camembert to Calais, or... you get the picture...

An article in the Guardian, has a story which was featured on BBC Breakfast today...
British people who have moved to France are apparently doing their shopping in English supermarkets, and then having it delivered to their homes in France, and are still saving around 30% due to the value of the Euro against the pound...

A Leo Hickman article discusses the ethics of this particularly long home delivery and cross-channel shopping...

Do you think people do order French wine and have it delivered ?

Different country, but same concerns ?

Via Twitter, a link to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, not a paper that I usually read...
It's about providing an environment where teachers feel able to develop professionally by trying "new" things and how that connections with the leadership in the school

Leanne Faraday-Brash,an organisational psychologist is quoted:

"Part of leadership is the permission to stick your neck out, to experiment, to rattle the cage and challenge the status quo."

"Teachers aren't necessarily going to do that in an environment that is punitive, collegiate or overly hierarchical."

For Professor Stephen Dinham, it comes back to recognising the whole student.

"The fundamental thing in highly successful schools at all levels is they have a central focus on every student as a learner and as a person," he says.

"Good teaching and good schools are the best chance we've got to open up opportunity - low expectations condemn people to underachievement."

The Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has released a draft consultation paper on the new National Curriculum for Geography, which makes fascinating reading, particularly the connections with the curriculum that we have here.

What have the Australians included that we haven't and vice versa...

We seem to agree on some things though...

A PDF download, is available from the ACARA site.

Good to see that the GA's manifesto for geography "a different view" appears in the references section...

I think GA staff should have iPads...

Just a thought :)

Another data download...

Thanks to Russel Tarr on twitter for the tip off to:

This contains a range of maps and data downloads, which I will investigate further later...

1600 up !

I started this blog shortly after hearing that I had been appointed to a post at the Geographical Association.
Now up over 1600 posts, which is quite amazing really - it's sort of my online "diary" of past events...
I hope you find something of interest here...

Glastonbury 2010 1

This is the first of a series of posts related to my first major festival-going experience (although it'll be followed fairly quickly by a second... more on that later...
The map of the site is above.
For the week that the festival runs (including the days before and after...) a small city of people descends on Worthy Farm.
There are lots of potential links with GEOGRAPHY, and I know that there is already a resource on the Action Plan for Geography funded GTT website which is about Mapping Festivals (Glastonbury in particular) and also have an excellent scheme of work based on LATITUDE.

My tickets arrived...
You can follow the festival on TWITTER....
Glastonbury have realised the academic interest and provided an information download page on the official website.

The Guerilla Geography workshops will introduce some younger people to some of the key geographical concepts, and also the fun of exploration...
Geography means "writing the Earth" and there are millions of stories to be captured...

Teachmeet East #TMEast

My presentation for today...
Any questions, please get in touch...
My 'recording voice' is not quite the same as my 'stood in front of people' style... :)

View more webinars from GeoBlogs.
A few thoughts:
"Do children read ?" - yes they do !
"Are all textbooks bad ?" - no... but some of the ways that teachers use older ones for 'occupying students' is not a good use of time... (I know, because I did it myself from time to time...)
"Do you need to use technology to tell stories ?" - no....


Nordpil provides mapping and data.

An excellent map on the Greening of the Arctic shows the impact of changing climatic conditions in the circumpolar regions.

The data downloads are useful too for those with a package able to read them...
A layer package of the major URBAN AREAS of the world has been made available, along with the data in other formats.
A version of the map can be seen below...

This also led me to NATURAL EARTH DATA which offers similar things..

Tickets for Glasto...

Some tickets arrived this morning...
Now very excited..

See you in the Green Kids field for some Guerilla Geography...

I will be writing up a series of posts about the experience, and also producing some links and resources to supplement existing ideas relating to music festivals...

Just a reminder of the nice things people are saying about our Mission Explore book...

"Mission:Explore is a brilliant way to stimulate children's and young people's interest in their social and physical environment, their curiosity and their sense of the absurd. The case for risk as a necessary and exciting part of life, that needs handling intelligently, is acknowledged well. This is geography, and fieldwork, at its most creative, and has the potential to inspire a new generation of thoughtful, ethical and courageous geographers." Susan Buckingham, Professor of Geography

“it is very important for children to experience adventurous play and risk so they can learn to manage risk and keep themselves safe. Mission:Explore helps to do this in a fun and exciting way.” The Child Safety Education Coalition

"Should be compulsory reading for all university geography students" Professor Danny Dorling

UPDATE: Good to see us on the wonderful DIGITAL URBAN site.

Good offer

The Changing Geography series seeks to help you to alert your 16-19 students to the fact that many or the ideas currently being taught and researched in universities are also relevant to them. By introducing your students to concepts and ideas that tend to be excluded from conventional 16-19 school text,Changing Geography helps to close the gap between school and university geography and helps to prepare your students for the types of approaches they will need to use during their university studies. Each book is illustrated with contemporary case studies and includes numerous suggestions for discussion, projects and fieldwork.

Each title is now £5 or you can buy all 8 titles in the series for the bargain price of £35.

Titles in the series:

Quality Primary Geography

Image of Arinagour harbour on the Island of Coll (AKA Struay in the Katie Morag books, used in many Primary schools) - image by Wendy North, and shared under Creative Commons license...

Today was spent in the company of Primary colleagues Wendy, Wendy, Arthur and Tina; along with John, Julie and our intern Emma.
We were looking at submissions for the GA's PRIMARY GEOGRAPHY QUALITY MARK

The plan was for us to learn from each other about the process of identifying quality geography taking place at a Primary level.
We wanted to ensure that schools were providing appropriate evidence that they had followed the criteria for being awarded the mark at Bronze, Silver or Gold level.

It was a fascinating and enjoyable day, and another reminder of the value of this reflective process.
For more information on the PRIMARY GEOGRAPHY QUALITY MARK check the GA website.

Also a chance to get involved with our PRIMARY CHAMPIONS network, which is proving to be so successful !

Guide to Digital Media

The MEDIA TRUST have produced a range of useful short guides for the charitable sector in how to use digital media.

The latest version will feature a charity which is making particularly good use of NINGs.
It's us ! :)
Thanks to Simon for the chat earlier...

An announcement on the future of our NINGs is coming soon...

A cuppa carbon...

Thanks to @tracingpaper on Twitter for the lead to a Guardian article which explored the carbon footprint of that cup of tea or coffee you've just drunk...

Here's the one I just drank - thanks to Emma for making it for me.
Some interesting comparisons with some other activities...

The carbon footprint of a cup of tea or coffee:

21g CO2e: black tea or coffee, boiling only the water you need
53g CO2e: white tea or coffee, boiling only the water you need
71g CO2e: white tea or coffee, boiling double the water you need
235g CO2e: a large cappuccino
340g CO2e: a large latte

How does this compare with other activities ?
How could the total carbon produced be reduced ?

Down below...

Edible Geography has a great blog post on the SEWER DIVERs who work in some of the world's major cities.
A subterranean landscape that almost no-one will never see...

Coincidentally, the Secret Garden Party will feature the Geography Collective Explorer Tent...

Exploration is a state of mind. Join us in the deep jungle of the Explorer Camp to hear stories from intrepid adventurers and discover new ways of exploring. Programmed by The Geography Collective, come deep into Explorer Camp expecting talks, films, games, workshops, installations and interventions.

This year the Secret Garden Party has unveiled the Explorer Camp treasure hunt to discover a treasure chest which has an Intrepid Travel holiday through Guatemala, Belize and Mexico inside.

The Discovery Channel explorer Olly Steeds will be speaking about his adventures and showing his recent programme on the Lost City of Gold - El Dorado - Its very name has become synonymous with the legend of a mythical city of gold lost in the wilds of South America. But is it really a myth? Is there actually a city packed with gold hidden somewhere in the Andes? For hundreds of years explorers have mounted expeditions to find it. Now Olly Steeds, journalist and explorer, has learned of new clues that could mean one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time is right around the corner. From the golden churches of the Incan capital Cusco, Olly follows the trail of El Dorado along a road of ruins deep into the remote Andes Mountains, leading an expedition that promises to open a new chapter in the centuries-old hunt for the City of Gold and change the face of archaeology.

Explorer writing workshops. Founder of Kabul Caravan and Lonely Planet travel writer Paul Clammer will be sharing how to tell stories about dangerous place including Haiti and Afghanistan, while travel publishers Eye Books will explain how to get your stories in print.

The Geography of Dance Music. A music-dance through the years, countries and sounds as Alex Wilson charts the devolvement of global dance music from 1900 to the present day… expect to be moved by desert blues, kwaito, cumbia, punta, soukou, rock, funk and folk, techno, house, salsa, rara, sufi, soul, disco, highlife, rumba, raga and so much more.

The now infamous Explorer Camp Wide Games will include Wide and Seek, 40 40, 123 in, Capture the Flag and Extreme Tiddly Winks every afternoon.

Colin Butfield from the WWF will be talking about the WWF's recent expeditions into tropical rainforests to discover new and endangered species.

Wild Animal Quiz for kids will feature a strange exploration of animal sounds from around the world for (big) kids.

Can You Tell What it is Yet? Can You Tell Where it is Yet? A Short Explore Around the World through Maps - Philip Hatfield from the British Library takes us through the world of maps.

With Mission:Explore we will be issuing challenges from the Explorer Camp. If you are in need of an adventure, visit our mission exchange to set and collect them for the festival community.

Dan Box will be sharing his experience of travelling to the Carteret Islands in the Pacific Ocean where the islanders are set to become the world’s first climate refugees.

Ian Pringle is an actor and mask maker. He is bringing his outstanding Face Up Theatre to the Explorer Camp in a series of workshops which will encourage those that take part to explore with new eyes and in extraordinary ways.

Siobhan Sinnerton, Series Editor of Unreported World is going to be showing two films which show the importance of exploration. She is looking forward to taking questions and explaining how the Channel 4 series is put together.

The Light Surgeons are some of the best video artists in the country. Founder and director Chris Allen will be coming to show some of their best psychogeographical work and will be talking about how and why they were made.

Jamie Buchanan-Dunlop is a digital explorer, using technology to plan and capture expeditions. Fresh back from working with young people from Pakistan and the Middle East, Jamie will be talking about the Off-screen Expeditions.

The British Library is supplying us with sonic explorations. Kids will be able to come and explore sounds of the world while each evening will close with the ambience of key world biomes including tropical rainforests and grasslands.

Christina Greenland is an expert in dance, therapy and movement. She will be running sensory exploration dance workshops that anyone can join. Expect bubble wrap.

Daniel Raven-Ellison from The Geography Collective set up a project to walk across some of the world’s biggest cities. He will be showing films of walks across Mexico City, Mumbai and London which have taken place as part of the URBAN EARTH project.

Christian Nold attaches sensors to people to map how they physically respond to the places they explore. He calls this biomapping. Come and hear how he does it and join in one of his workshops to sense The Secret Garden Party.

Frederik & Magnus are two students from Oslo in Norway who have a passion for all things Secret Garden Party. They are getting to the festival not by plane, train or coach, but… bicycle. They are going to be sharing their very recent and probably raw experiences.

King Adz is a filmmaker and author of The Urban Cookbook, The Urban Traveller’s Sketchbook and Street Knowledge. King is going to be issuing an A-Z of street culture and talking about his experiences of travelling urban worlds.

They are habitats. They are hosts for diseases. They become infected in and by travel and relationships… they are bodies and we all have one. Our special guest doctor is going to be showing lots painful images to reveal the relationship between exploration and health.

Terrorbull Games will be taking over Explorer Camp on Thursday afternoon with the War on Terror game. Allow them to play with your mind and join them for some light terrorism and extremist responses in this critically acclaimed game.

Stonehenge Visitor Centre

Stonehenge: the view from the road... Image by Sally Parkinson

This has been planned for many years.
As a (reasonably) frequent visitor to Devon, I have spent quite a while in various queues on the road past the stones...
Noel Jenkins produced an excellent juicy activity involving Google Earth to produce a MANAGEMENT PLAN for Stonehenge.

Now the proposed visitor centre is a(nother) victim of the new Government cuts - so it looks like you'll be shuffling through that dingy underpass for a while yet...

Painting the town red, or painting the mountain white...

Thanks to my colleague Anne Greaves for telling me about this fascinating example of landscape change.
It is a story about a mountain in Peru is being painted white to try to restore a lost glacier...

The BBC NEWS story describes how Eduardo Gold came up with the idea...

Changing the albedo (a measure of how strongly an object reflects light) of the rock surface, would bring about a cooling of the peak's surface, says Mr Gold, which in turn would generate a cold micro-climate around the peak.

"I am hopeful that we could re-grow a glacier here because we would be recreating all the climatic conditions necessary for a glacier to form."

"Cold generates more cold, just as heat generates more heat," says Mr Gold.

Some slick resources...

We have launched some new resources on the GA WEBSITE related to the ongoing oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
The oil has been spreading since the explosion in late April which severed a pipe connecting the Deepwater Horizon rig to the sea bed and sadly claimed the lives of 11 workers.

The slick has been mapped with Google Earth, so that it can be placed in other locations to emphasise the scale of the impact, and this and lots of other ideas are included in this section, which is free to access, but has been funded by GA MEMBERSHIP subscriptions...

Check out the resources on the GA WEBSITE.

Thanks to @annefgreaves once again for turning my scribbles into something that I hope teachers find useful...

Gapminder World Cup

Thanks to Bob Lang for the lead to the special WORLD CUP EDITION of GAPMINDER.

Thought for the day

"A geography teacher not using geospatial technology is like a chemistry teacher not using the periodic table."
Joseph Kerski , ESRI

Memories of 1976

One of the (many) geography-related books on my shelves is Evelyn Cox's "The Great Drought of 1976"
I remember the drought of 1976 well...

It was the driest summer since 1772...

I was 12 at the time, and spent a week of it on the island of Jersey, which was flipping hot ! I remember getting into our rented Beetle with its hot leather seats burning the backs of my legs in their shorts... take that Proust !

A good Martin Wainwright piece on memories of the drought here, courtesy of the Guardian. I saw Martin speaking at an event last year, and he was very engaging, if a little rambling and tangential :)

I currently have the book "Since records began" by Paul Simons out of my local library on loan. It has a useful section on the drought...
Some snippets:
  • The tabloid headline "Phew, what a scorcher"
  • Intense heat set in on 23rd June
  • There were 15 consecutive days of temperatures above 90 degrees in the S of England
  • Drought from the stress assisted the Dutch Elm disease fungus
  • Penguins at Edinburgh Zoo had to be sprayed with iced water to help them cope with the heat
  • Slogan: "Save water, bath with a friend...."
  • Thousands of subsidence claims as houses built on clay suffered cracks
  • In 1977, there were a lot more boys born than girls: it's thought that the female X-chromosome is more sensitive to heat
Interestingly the previous year, there had been snow on the 4th June as far south as East Anglia and London.

And now we have the first drought warnings of the year. So start sharing baths...

And remember, if it's brown flush it down, if it's yellow, let it mellow...

American Moves

An excellent interactive map of the USA, which shows the movements of people from US counties: two colours show people moving into and out of the county, which allows for an investigation of the patterns of movement to and from various parts of the US... for example, in the map below, which shows the movements related to Palm Beach county in Florida, there seems to be a movement into Florida from locations on the eastern seaboard, but most people leaving Florida seem to be heading west ?

What other uses could this be put to ?

Via @GeoParadigm on Twitter

I want to tell you a story...

As regular readers of the blog will know, one of my interests is in the use of technology (although that's not essential) to facilitate the construction of a story, or narrative.
These stories could then become part of the tapestry of stories that make up a map (with reference to the Doreen Massey lecture at the GA Conference earlier in the year)

I was contacted today by Krista from Tell us a Story.

Tell Us Your Story is giving people the opportunity to recognise and reward others who have made a positive impact on their lives or in their community over the past year. Entries are submitted online at

Launched by Aviva, for every entry they will donate £1 to the
Street to School Programme - a global initiative with the aim of reaching 500,000 children worldwide, helping them get off the streets and back into education.

A weekly prize of £1000 will also be awarded to the local hero that captures the hearts of visitors to the site and receives the most votes. One overall winner will be chosen by a celebrity judging panel for a prize worth £10,000.

AVIVA Tell Us A Story Large

Two wheels good...

I'm all set for the Tour de France, which starts on the 3rd of July in Rotterdam...

Another major cycling event hits my local area on the 16th of September: the Tour of Britain.
Just got the latest issue of "YourNorfolk" and there is a feature on the race. Learning packs are being prepared apparently, particularly for Primary age children.

There is also plenty of scope for the secondary age students to get involved, and I hope former colleagues will be doing something, given that the race starts in King's Lynn.

There is a dedicated website, which goes live at the end of June.
Maps of the route can be downloaded from HERE

GeoVation Challenge 2010

GeoVation Challenge 2010 has been launched

Last year, as a member of the Geography Collective, we were successful in getting funding for our Mission: Explore London app - the eventual winners were Maxi Map. (You may have seen the huge map at the GA Conference this year)
This year, the format is a little different...
Ideas are requested based around a theme.
The first theme was added today, and runs until September.

The key questions is "How can Britain feed itself ?"
Might be one to throw over to the students as well..

Agrarian Renaissance etc

I had a few new useful websites sent to me today via various sources...

The Agrarian Renaissance
Connects with my current interests in all things "geography of food" related. This is a project which is being introduced at an event today. It is aimed at reconnecting people, land and food, and providing an alternative to shopping at supermarkets.

A related idea is...

Energy descent plans are also something that I looked at this morning, when writing some resources related to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster: is "spill" the right word ?
The Transition Towns movement is an attempt to involve the residents of towns with the

Towns such as LEWES have provided a range of activities related to their plans to reduce the energy use in the town, and has also introduced the LEWES POUND

Cognitive Surplus

Just ordered the new Clay Shirky book, which sounds like it will be excellent.
Watch Clay talking about the background to the book back in 2008...

New OFSTED guidance

New guidance from OFSTED has been released on the OFSTED website.

The guidance is available for a range of subjects, including GEOGRAPHY.

It is intended for those who inspect subjects, and includes some thoughts on generic grade descriptors as well as some draft supplementary guidance on areas such as the curriculum and the effectiveness of subject leadership.

The guidance is for consultation. You have until the end of July to provide your feedback...

As my concern (well, one of many things my job concerns) is with Curriculum Development, I was particularly interested in the statements relating to the assessment of the curriculum in geography.
The imaginative and stimulating geography curriculum is skilfully designed to match to the full range of pupils’ needs and to ensure highly effective continuity and progression in their learning

I also liked the comment on teaching:

Teachers communicate enthusiasm and passion about geography to pupils.

Good to see the importance of GIS, fieldwork and knowledge of current initiatives mentioned...
Well worth reading and adding your thoughts on...

A nice day at NAACE

It was over to Nottingham today for a meeting of representatives from many of the Subject Associations at the new headquarters of NAACE.
For those who don't know, NAACE is the ICT Association, and is the professional association for those concerned with advancing education through the appropriate use of ICT. It also has a key role in the ICT Mark for schools.

Quite a few familiar faces from work that I did last year to produce a booklet for the teaching of Functional Skills - you can download if from HERE by the way - it's great !

NAACE have also produced a range of FREE CPD courses which although they might sound like they are just for ICT teachers, would probably be of value to geography teachers too. They can be found by following this link: ICT CPD 4 FREE

Met Peter Twining from VITAL, who offer a range of CPD options too. Their website describes Vital as:
a professional development programme that aims to revitalise the teaching of IT and the use of ICT across the broader curriculum. It is aimed at anyone teaching or working in state-funded education in England.

Courses are delivered by the Open University, and funded by the DfE.

The day involved a series of discussions on the use of ICT to support / deliver CPD, the use that subject specialists were making of ICT to support their pedagogy, and how the impact of its use was being evaluated. I contributed some thoughts, and talked about the various projects that the GA has been involved in in this area, including the one on GEOGRAPHY AND CAREERS that has just gone live.

Coincidentally, I got back home to find details (via Twitter) of a very useful GUARDIAN article, which talked about the sad demise of BECTa, and celebrated the impact that it was having in supporting teachers. The article featured the results of a survey of teachers, and also a quote from Bernadette Brooks of NAACE:

"Technology has moved on dramatically so training has to match that pace of change. I don't see that there will be a reduction in that. ICT training isn't done. We will keep needing to invest in training for ICT teaching and learning. It is not just about using the kit but about finding innovative ways to use the technology available to us in the classroom."
The trend was towards more informal forms of training, mixing face-to-face and online. "Teachers increasingly feel more comfortable with 'bite-sized' training. They don't necessarily want something incredibly formal."