Thursday, October 16, 2008

Best in SHOW

If you teach Social Studies, be sure to take a gander at SHOW. This web-based service is a nifty online tool that appeared on the scene May of this year. Developed by Mapping Worlds, this site gives visitors a better perspective on world issues. SHOW re-sizes countries on a map of the world according to a series of global issues.

For example, if pupils are researching which countries rely upon coal for energy. They can swing over to SHOW, click on the PLANET tab, locate ENERGY, and choose COAL.

After selecting the parameters, the map on the screen changes, reflecting that the countries being displayed have been changed size so as to reflect the amount of each nation's coal reserves (the more tons of coal a nation has in its reserves, the bigger the nation appears).
This is how the map looks after the countries have been re-sized.

Note that the United States appears to be larger than China. Learners need only hover their mouse over the nation to discover why it is smaller in the graphic representation. China has 114.5 billion tons of coal reserves.

In contrast, after hovering over the United States, students can see that the United States has 242.6 billion tons of coal.

If pupils doubt the veracity of the information or merely wish to cite the source, they need only look over on the right-hand side of the map to see where the information originated. In this instance, there's a refernce to data contained in a 2005 document from the World Energy Council.

It's true that pupils could easily refer to a table of numerical information regarding coal reserves. However, by using SHOW, students have an opportunity to explore that same data in an engaging manner that activates higher order thinking.

Related resources:
Essential Questions that may be worth pursuing:
  • Even if it is possible to map every inch of the surface of the earth, should we? What are some of the most disturbing unintended consequences of such a venture?
  • What is the best way to (simultaneously) represent the geophysical, economic, and/or political aspects/boundaries of our world?
  • What are other, novel ways that geographic information can be represented? For example, how could such information be successfully represented for or accessed by senses other than sight?

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