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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

One of the things I'm proudest of in the last few years is my involvement with the Geography Collective, and our Mission:Explore books, iPhone app and other activities...
We can now announce our latest project, thanks to the project leadership of Daniel Raven Ellison.

We are very pleased to say that we will be delivering a major project for the Cultural Olympiad as part of the Discovering Places programme called Discover Explore. Discovering Places is funded by a grant from Olympic Lottery Distributor (OLD) through the London Organising Committee of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). It is delivered by The Heritage Alliance with the support of key partners.. one of which is us.

We will be working closely with The Workshop to create something very beautiful and cool which will be launched this summer.

“The project aims to inspire young people and their families to discover hidden, extraordinary and important historical sites and stories in cutting-edge and engaging ways. The unique collaboration between Discovering Places, The Geography Collective and numerous small and medium scales historic and natural environment organisations will inspire active participation, animate spaces, raise awareness of environmental sustainability and enhance learning by linking up local heritage assets.” The Heritage Alliance 

‘We are extremely excited to be working on this cutting edge and creative strand of Discovering Places.  This project is going to open up opportunities for children and families to explore and experience places in new ways and have a great deal of fun while thare are at it.  We will be uncovering heritage in ways that will demonstrate how inclusive the Cultural Olympiad is and break new ground on engaging young people with the people, places and stories of not only our pasts but our future’s past.’ Daniel Raven-Ellison, Project Director, The Geography Collective

To read more about the Cultural Olympiad, Discovering Places and our project take a look at the Heritage Alliance newsletter here.

Look forward to meeting the rest of the Geography Collective in May to kick-start the project... 


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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gathering ideas for a future project on iPhone applications that would support geographical learning... whether outside or inside the classroom...

As well as the obvious MISSION EXPLORE app, there's also the RORY's STORYCUBES APP that I have poised and ready for business (although the actual dice are more tactile...)

Image by Alan Parkinson - cubes by Creativity Hub...

If you have other thoughts on iPhone apps that you particularly USE (rather than just having on your phone for visual impact), please let me know or add a comment below...

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Monday, March 21, 2011

My earlier blog post about the Christchurch memorial service was a reminder of the many connections that exist between the UK and New Zealand.
My friend Simon Hathaway, who now lives in Wellington (which is a major improvement on Rotherham) sent me a pack of newspaper and magazine articles this week to add to the other resources that I have gathered to help teach about the resilience of a major city following an earthquake. I was interested to read the 'North and South New Zealander of the Year' piece, which awarded the Supreme Winner to the people of Christchurch... and that was following the earlier September 2010 quake...
There was also a really useful piece from the Dominion Post by Chris Kalderimis on the most useful items to have in a home emergency survival kit, and lots of personal stories.

The #blog4nz campaign is encouraging bloggers the world over to focus on New Zealand for a while, and this post is part of the effort.

Although my work involves me in translating a range of media into resources which can make a difference in the classroom, there is also a lot of personal interest in exploring these distant places, and one area to develop is the impact of tourism in New Zealand.

One of the potential longer term impacts of the Christchurch earthquake is the effect that it might have on the tourist industry on both islands, but particularly the South Island.  New Zealand has been on my must-visit list for ever, and I still fully intend to visit one day, although the current financial situation is not making it any easier...

Image shared under Creative Commons license by Boston Public Library
When I was asked to produce a KS3 book for use in the geography classroom, I was determined to get a little bit of New Zealand in there. I chose an iconic landform to focus on: the distinctive Mitre Peak in Milford Sound.

My contribution to the GA's toolkit series included two lessons called "Mountains on my Mind". They involved students applying for a job with a fictional tour company which operated flights into Milford Sound. Students needed to prepare themselves for the job interview by researching answers to the sorts of questions that tourists would have as they flew over the mountains.

Below is a slideshow of images taken by Simon Hathaway, which were used to introduce the lesson - the music is by the band "Suns of the Tundra" - with thanks to Simon Oakes for the remix music track :) - warning: it could get loud !!

Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

When clicking on the Dominion Post link earlier to create the hyperlink, I noticed a few tourism related stories straight away:

Preparations for the next Rugby World Cup later this year are already well underway, and there was also the story about the filming for 'The Hobbit' movie.

This reminded me of a the tourism benefits of the filming of "The Lord of the Rings" which resulted in a major surge in visitors, and the publication of several guides to the filming locations.

So what would my top priorities be for our family visit to New Zealand, which was going to be 2012, but now looks like being later... My interest in some parts of the country date back to 2007. At the time I was supporting Val Vannet as she followed Mark Beaumont around the world on his record-breaking
I took over from Val over the Christmas and New Year period 2007-8 and followed Mark through New Zealand and therefore spent a lot of time using Google Earth and other sites to trace his route and identify some geographical highlights....
Here is a 'top ten', which provides a taster.... There'll be no bungee though, or white water rafting. I prefer more sedate pleasures...

1. Wellington
We'll be based in the city as that's where friends who've offered us a bed for as long as we want live. But from there we'll branch out. Wellington has plenty to offer the visitor, and we'll explore the hills and the city itself. Plenty of interesting food and cultural highlights... We can get over our jet lag here before exploring further afield in a motor home...

2. Ferry to the South Island (and back)
Looking forward to this trip. We enjoy boat journeys and this is one of the more spectacular ones.

3. Christchurch
As a geographer, I'd be interested in seeing the city for various reasons, but not the least to show that it is as safe to visit as anywhere else along this fault-line. This would not be "disaster tourism", but a genuine desire to support local businesses as well as publicise for geography teachers and students back home some of the longer term ways that 'resilience' manifests itself....

4.Mt.Taranaki / Egmont and the surrounding area
Egmont / Taranaki is an amazing mountain, and the surrounding area has plenty of interest. I am particularly keen to visit places that are as 'different' to the day-to-day as possible.

5. Rotorua
Having visited Iceland recently, including a trip to Geysir and other hot springs, I've had my fair share of sulphurous water, but this is one of those places where the thin shell of the Earth's crust becomes obvious, and for that reason I need to take a look...

6. Milford Sound - I'm torn between driving in, and flying in - perhaps I could do both ? This is one of the great places of the world. When I was younger I visited the Hardangerfjord and other fjords of Norway, and I'm always impressed by huge cliffs and deep water. The waterfalls and jagged peaks are stunning.

7. Moeraki
Always wanted to see the Moeraki boulders, looking like dinosaur eggs on the beach. Moeraki is not too far from Christchurch. The family might not be too impressed if I dragged them a long distance to see "a few rocks", although they are beautiful rocks...

8. Mt Ruapehu and Tongariro
In the same area of the North Island, I used to teach about the eruption of these volcanoes for many years. I like the idea of seeing the peaks and snow fields, and making the link with the 'Lord of the Rings' locations...

9. Franz Josef Glacier
Again, my recent trip to Iceland allowed me to walk on a large glacier, but this has a much different feel to the Solheimajokull ice cap, with its steeper gradient and dramatic crevasses...

10. Shackleton connections
Sir Ernest Shackleton has always been an inspiration of mine, and the chance to visit some of the places where he prepared for his journeys would be a good reason for heading South... Two places on the list would be the grave of Chippy McNeish in Karori cemetery, Wellington, and the port of Lyttleton.

Picture by Simon Hathaway - Chippy McNeish and Mrs Chippy...

I am keen to trace some of the connections with the early Polar explorers, as we prepare for the centenary of Scott and Amundsen's race to the Pole next year. I have no doubt that someone somewhere is planning to tweet their journeys day by day (and if they aren't I though of it first... ;)  )

See you there !

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Earlier in the week, picked up on this story from the Guardian, as one of the impacts of last week's earthquake and tsunami...
It describes the particular impact that shortages of food, water and power are having on those who survived, or were evacuated from the areas affected by the combination of hazards that have hit the country.
The elderly are apparently being affected particularly badly.

The second story was from Friday morning's BBC news. Despite the rise in obesity, the UK population is still enjoying longer life expectancy.

The third was prompted by a conversation with Carl Lee in Sheffield on Wednesday. He put me on to the latest Danny Dorling book, which I promptly ordered, and it arrived on Friday.

There are plenty of interesting sections which could translate into the classroom.
I liked the introduction: "Geography Matters", which includes the useful reminder for adult readers of the book that:
"The geography you may have been taught late on a Thursday afternoon at school is not the geography that is taught in universities today.."
- although in many cases it is also not the geography that is taught at schools on Thursday afternoons these days...

There are chapters on a range of themes that would be familiar to those teaching GCSE and 'A' level specifications, and this book should perhaps be available in school and departmental libraries.
Useful information on optimum populations, immigration, ageing populations and gender imbalance.
As always with Danny, plenty of thought provoking and challenging arguments and information....

Plenty of information for follow up reading in the copious endnotes too...


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The GA will have a stand at this year's Education Show 2011 at the NEC.
We will be in Hall 6&7 on Stand P30A - the subject association area (as at BETT) - the show starts later this week...

Come along to pick up the latest catalogues, see some of our new publications, browse some GA resources and be told about the support for Primary and Secondary colleague that members can expect, as well as our CPD support and online networks.

We would be interested to hear your views on the curriculum review, English Baccalaureate, and other challenges facing geography in schools, as well as the opportunities presented by these 'interesting times'.

I will be setting up and manning the stand on the first day of the show: Thursday the 17th of March

Alternatively, come with a USB drive and I'll let you have some free resources from my hard drive...

I'll also be handing out various bits for those who get there early...

My colleagues Nicola Donkin and Paul Baker will be on the stand on the other 2 days of the show...

Look forward to seeing some of you there...


Sunday, March 06, 2011

I asked my Twitter followers to suggest/nominate a natural and a man-made "Wonder of the World" that (importantly) they had seen themselves... and to add the hashtag #nqtgeog11

Here are the results:

Natural Wonders
Colca Canyon, Peru
Solheimajokull Glacier, Iceland
Here's a picture of me on that very glacier in 2010:

Jostedalsbreen, Norway
Cheddar Gorge
Tropical Rainforests
Yosemite Valley
The Cuillin Ridge, Skye
Here's one of my images of a section of the said ridge:

The Cenotes of the Chicxulub meteor impact in Mexico
Cwm Idwal
Landmannalaugar region of Iceland
Valle de Mai, Praslin, Seychelles - home of the Coco de Mer
Fingal's Cave
Bryce Canyon, Utah
The Alps
Grand Canyon

Man Made Wonders
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
Here are some pictures that I took when I visited....

Petra, Jordan (2 votes)
Great Wall of China
Serapeum, Temple of the Bulls near Cairo
The CERN Large Hadron Collider
Sydney Harbour Bridge (3 votes)
The London Sewers
The Emirates Stadium
Shah Mosque, Esfahan
St Pancras Station
Eden Project, Cornwall
Jamaa el Fna, Marrakech as the sun sets...
The Burj Khalifa - just been reading about the At the Top attraction and browsing pictures taken from the top - incredible...

My own choice is probably
Natural: Prekestolen or Pulpit Rock in Rogaland, Norway, which I visited in 1984 and have never forgotten...
I had a dodgy camera at the time, so didn't get any decent pictures. Here's one from TrekEarth, which is used with thanks to Kris Verhoeven

Man-made: The Blue Lagoon 

Here's one of my images:

Which amazing places do you 'visit' with your students ?