Wednesday, February 26, 2014

So much to discover about our world!

Image above: Satellite image showing southern Africa during flooding in 2013.

Sites related to GeogSplace
Spatialworlds blog
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class

TSC Moodle

One of the good things about geography is that there is always new geography being made. Every day there is another story that can be studied geographically. By watching the news, reading the paper and following the Internet news sites you will see that around the world things are happening and commentary being made on both physical and human geography.  For example just today the following can be discussed:

1. Satellite images showing southern Africa before and during floods

2. Tropical Cyclone Felleng

3. Sinkhole swallows whole building complex in China

4. North Koreans eating their own children due to famine?

5. Every picture tells a story: true and false. An interesting look at Hurricane Sandy coverage: fake or not!

6. Population video on the arrival of the 7 billionth person on our planet.

7. Shocking Facts You Did Not Know A Minute Ago

8. Citizen geographers exposing North Korea

9. A typical person in the world

Come to class prepared to discuss, question and highlight things from these resources. 

Inquiring and researching


Image above: The need for objectiveness when researching

Image above: The need for objectiveness when researching

Sites related to GeogSplace
Spatialworlds blog
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class

Where am I??  

Research sources for the Inquiry Report

The research required for the Inquiry Report must go beyond the normal "Googling" process. A more comprehensive process is required which involves the fantastic database research facilities we have at Thebarton Senior College. If you don't know how to use them just ask others and practice using them. The codes are available on the bookmarks supplied – get one from the library (I can't put them up on this public blog!). When you have found a source article from the databases you must citate in accordance with the Harvard system. Don't leave the bibliography until the end, it should be collated as you go along correctly citated. Go to citation facility on the library link to create the correct citation of the source.
Here are the links, all your research is just a few clicks away!

1. LinksPlus: available to all TSC students using the password.

This is an amazing categorised data base of websites which have educational value for a huge range of issues/topics. LinksPlus is designed to guide research and save time for students, teachers and librarians. Go to, log in using the TSC User name and Password and start looking for sites for your issue/topic.

2. Newstext: available to all TSC students using the supplied password.

Newstext contains nearly 30 million articles from 150 News Corporation newspapers worldwide, and is updated daily. Most of the newspapers are published in Australia. The archive for some newspapers begins in 1984.
Just go to and login using the TSC User Name and Password.
* Only open the article if the abstract looks promising (costs for each article opened).
* Print article, don’t ask for an email of the article because they all go to Anne in the library.
* Use “and” in your searches.

 3. EBSCO Host databases

EBSCOhost databases and discovery technologies are the most-used, premium online information resources for tens of thousands of institutions worldwide, representing millions of end-users. It contains thousands of articles from magazines, journals etc on every imaginable topic/social issue.

EBSCO Host contains:

* Australia New Zealand database

* Australia New Zealand points of view

Again, the User ID and Password is on the bookmark.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Starting to play with maps

Sites related to GeogSplace
Spatialworlds blog

Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class

Where am I??  

Today we made a start on map reading. When you have read and absorbed the ‘Getting on the map’ Spatialworlds posting, use the Adelaide topographic map supplied to answer the following questions. I also suggest you check out the GeoScience Australia map site to get more information and understanding on mapping.

Remember before doing anything with the questions, become well acquained with the elements of the map (scale, legend, grid dimensions, directions, contours etc)

Map questions on the Adelaide map   
Download the question sheet from 

What is the scale of this map in terms of:
1cm represents ________ metres
1cm represents ____ Kilometre/s
1cm represents _________ cm

Each grid of the map represents ___ squ Km

What are Northings?

Do you read/write Northings or Eastings first?

What is at:

What is the distance “as the crow flies” (direct as a line) between the Adelaide GPO and the jetty at Glenelg (727262)

What is the Latitude and Longitude of the eastern side of the Adelaide map?

What is the approximate area in squ km of the Hope Valley Reservoir (8840)

What is the contour interval of the map? ____ (you may wish to research what a contour line is before answering this and the next few questions).

Would the contour interval of the Himalayas map be smaller or larger than this map?

What is the 4 digit grid reference for the grid square of the map which contains the highest points on this map?
What is the height above sea level of Thebarton Senior College?

What colours are used on this map to represent natural features?

What colours are used on this map to represent human features?

What is the direction of Hope Valley Reservoir (8840) from the Adelaide GPO?

What is the bearing of Football Park (710373) from Thebarton Senior College?

Why do you think Adelaide city is located where it is?

In what direction are the Adelaide hills trending/aligning?

What is the projection of this map?  

Who published this map?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Getting on the map

Sites related to GeogSplace
Spatialworlds blog
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class

Where am I??  

Basic mapping skills for Geography
To read a map you need to understand compass directions, grid references and the map's legend and scale. You need to be able to find features when given a map reference. You also need to be able to describe a feature's location on a map by giving a map reference.
Maps are representations of the world created by people called cartographers to help other people navigate the world. Maps contain information tailored to a specific purpose.
  • A road map, for example, contains information that helps the reader get from one place to another using a vehicle.
  • The maps found in a geographical atlas will contain information of less interest to a road user, such as how the land in a place is used, the population density and the political boundaries that exist between regions, states and nations.
There are five fundamental things you need to be familiar with to read a map successfully:
  • compass directions
  • grid references
  • map's key
  • title
  • scale
1.      Compass directions
Compass directions are vital for finding your way around a map. Starting at the top and moving clockwise the directions on a compass or map are:

 Points of a compass

2.      Grid references
Maps are divided into numbered squares. These squares can be used to give a place a four or six-figure grid reference. It is important that you know both four-figure and six-figure grid references.


Eastings are lines that run up and down the map. They increase in number the further you move east (or right). You can use them to measure how far to travel east.


Northings are lines that run across the map horizontally. They increase in number the further you move north (or up the map). You can use them to measure how far to travel north.
  • numbers along the bottom of the map come first and the numbers up the side of the map come second
  • the four-figure reference 2083 refers to the square to the east of Easting line 20 and north of Northing line 83
  • the six-figure reference 207834 will give you the exact point in the square 2083 - 7/10s of the way across and 4/10s of the way up

3. Legend/key
Just like a key to a door, the legend/key on a map helps you to unlock the information stored in the colours and symbols on a map. You must understand how the key relates to the map before you can unlock the information it contains. The key will help you to identify types of boundaries, roads, buildings, agriculture, industry, places of interest and geographical features.

The title of a map gives you a general idea about the information it stores.

5. Scale
Some basics to start
·        100cm in a metre
·        100 000cm in kilometre
·        1000 metres in a kilometre

The scale of a map allows a reader to calculate the size, height and dimensions of the features shown on the map, as well as distances between different points. The scale on a map is the ratio between real life sizes and how many times it has been shrunk to fit it on the map.

An example
With a 1:50,000 scale map, 1 cm on the map represents 50,000 cm on the ground (= 500 m or 0.5 km).

A scale can be represented as a”
a.     ratio or representative fraction (RF) indicates how many units on the earth's surface is equal to one unit on the map. It can be expressed as 1/100,000 or 1:100,000. In this example, one centimeter on the map equals 100,000 centimeters (1 kilometer) on the earth. Or even 1 paperclip on the map is equal to 100,000 paperclips on the ground.
b.     A word statement gives a written description of map distance, such as "One centimeter equals one kilometer" or "One centimeter equals ten kilometers." Obviously, the first map would show much more detail than the second because one centimeter on the first map covers a much smaller area then on the second map.
c.      A graphic scale is simply a line marked with distance on the ground which the map user can use along with a ruler to determine scale on the map.

The smaller the number on the bottom of the map scale, the more detailed the map will be. A 1:10,000 map will show objects ten times as large as a 1:100,000 map but will only show 1/10th the land area on the same sized piece of paper

 A video on scale to watch

About map projections of the world

Mapping our World is a site explores the relationship between maps and globes, and how different projections influence our perception of the world. It challenges the idea that there is one 'correct' version of the world map.

An online game where you return the "misplaced" country on the world map.  As you move the country north or south the country expands or contracts according to how that country would be projected if that were its actual location on a Mercator map.

The grid reference system for the globe

The ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy created a grid system and listed the coordinates for places throughout the known world in his book Geography. But it wasn't until the middle ages that the latitude and longitude system was developed and implemented. This system is written in degrees, using the symbol °.


When looking at a map, latitude lines run horizontally. Latitude lines are also known as parallels since they are parallel and are an equal distant from each other. Each degree of latitude is approximately 69 miles (111 km) apart; there is a variation due to the fact that the earth is not a perfect sphere but an oblate ellipsoid (slightly egg-shaped). To remember latitude, imagine them as the horizontal rungs of a ladder ("ladder-tude"). Degrees latitude are numbered from 0° to 90° north and south. Zero degrees is the equator, the imaginary line which divides our planet into the northern and southern hemispheres. 90° north is the North Pole and 90° south is the South Pole.


The vertical longitude lines are also known as meridians. They converge at the poles and are widest at the equator (about 69 miles or 111 km apart). Zero degrees longitude is located at Greenwich, England (0°). The degrees continue 180° east and 180° west where they meet and form the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean. Greenwich, the site of the British Royal Greenwich Observatory, was established as the site of the prime meridian by an international conference in 1884.

How Latitude and Longitude Work Together
To precisely locate points on the earth's surface, degrees longitude and latitude have been divided into minutes (') and seconds ("). There are 60 minutes in each degree. Each minute is divided into 60 seconds. Seconds can be further divided into tenths, hundredths, or even thousandths. For example, the U.S. Capitol is located at 38°53'23"N , 77°00'27"W (38 degrees, 53 minutes, and 23 seconds north of the equator and 77 degrees, no minutes and 27 seconds west of the meridian passing through Greenwich, England).


Monday, February 10, 2014

Looking for a geographical issue to inquire about

Sites related to GeogSplace
Spatialworlds blog
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class

Where am I??  

The Inquiry task: this terms work!

The first assignment we are doing is the Inquiry Report where you must find a geographical issue to research.

From the SACE couse outline

Assessment: Inquiry (20%)
Students initiate and carry out one inquiry into a particular issue addressed in an option topic. The selected option topic must differ from that used for the fieldwork report.
The inquiry must involve the study of an issue that has local, national, and global relevance. It should demonstrate an understanding, and knowledge, of the concepts and key ideas raised in the chosen option topic. The emphasis is on the student’s development of this understanding and knowledge through the inquiry approach. The geographical inquiry should be based on an inquiry question formulated by the student in consultation with the teacher.
For the inquiry, students:
·   identify the issue
·   communicate causal factors
·   communicate the local, national, and global nature of the issue
·   integrate relevant maps, illustrations, graphs, and tables
·   analyse and critically evaluate data gathered from a wide variety of sources
·   critically evaluate various points of view
·   evaluate the environmental, social, political, and/or economic implications of responses to the issue
·   justify conclusions
·   reflect on sustainability
·   acknowledge sources appropriately.
The geographical inquiry can be submitted in one of the following formats: broadsheet, report, essay, digital slide presentation, or web page.
The geographical inquiry should be a maximum of 1500 words if written or a maximum of 10 minutes for an oral presentation, or the equivalent in multimodal form.

Over the next few weeks we will discuss the nature of issues in geography and the need to look at our views on issues and express our opinion about them in preparation of doing the Inquiry task. Read the following documents from the SACE Board site to give you detail and an example of the task.

The Inquiry task

An example of an Inquiry

 Looking for a geographical issue

Many of you may have difficulty thinking about an issue of importance to you. I thought the following websites dedicated to exploring and providing information on issues would be a useful exercise for you to look at and see a topic/issue that you find of interest. Start thinking about it now! Spend some time over the next week looking at these sites, identifying issues and learning about them. Remember it must be a geographical issue that you inquire about - what makes an issue geographical is for us to discuss!

Here are some sites to explore:

* Newspapers to explore for issues at

* Geographical issues in the news

* Envirnmental issues 

* Find out the facts on a wide range of issues at

* Geographical issues

* Research issues at the Social Issue Research Centre at

* Investigate a catalogue of issues at

* Find out information for issue studies at

* Investigate a directory of issues at

* Look at this Australian social action issue site at

* Here is a site full of issue ideas

Saturday, February 8, 2014

What's natural and cultural

Image above: Oblique aerial photograph of Brisbane.

Sites related to GeogSplace
Spatialworlds blog
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class

Where am I??  

What is natural and what is cultural?

Natural features are:
In geography, a physical feature is something which has been made by nature. For example a natural vegetation, rivers, beaches, lakes, terrain (valleys/hills), coastline etc.
It is important to remember that a feature can only be classified as being physical if it is not created by humans. This means that features such as agricultural crops and man-made dams, are considered to be cultural features.

Cultural features are:
Cultural features are those which have been made by humans. The most obvious examples are settlements (towns and cities), transportation systems (road, rail, sea and air) and industry (mining and agriculture etc). Since cultural features have often been constructed by humans using resources from the physical environment, it is not always easy to distinguish between the two. A park, for example, is classified as a cultural feature. Despite often comprising natural vegetation and wild animals, a park is constructed (or set aside) by humans for the purpose of recreation.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

From the air! Observing and questioning

Image above: Oblique aerial photograph of West Lakes, Adelaide.

Sites related to GeogSplace
Spatialworlds blog
Spatialworlds website
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website sites for the class

Where am I??  

Observation as a skill when using oblique aerial photographs

Observation and questioning are important skills in Geography.

This posting is dedicated to the potential of oblique aerial photographs as a resource to stimulate geographical questioning. 

When you look at the oblique aerial photograph:

*Firstly, try to describe all the natural and cultural features evident in the photography.  

*Secondary, look to see if you can see any patterns, distributions, trends in the features you have described in the photography

* Finally, try to explain why things are where they are - the 'why of the where' of geography

Here are 10 oblique aerial photographs for your observational and analytical skill development and use if you wish (just increase size by double clicking on the image and then right mouse click to 'Copy Image' or 'Save As Image' as a JPEG). They range from suburban, coastal, rural, mountain to urban.

 Image 1:  Adelaide CBD

 Image 2: Snow covered mountains somewhere over Italy

 Image 3: Suburban Adelaide landuse

 Image 4: Farmland on Yorke Peninsula, South Australia  

 Image 5: Suburban Perth

 Image 6: Coastal engineering, south of Rome

 Image 7: Coastal South Australia

 Image 8: Sydney CBD

Image 9: Glenelg, South Australia

Image 10: New York