The Geography of Vocabulary: The Bubbler

“It’s happened to just about all of us when we travel outside the state. You’re absolutely parched and ask a friendly looking stranger….”Where’s the bubbler?” They look at you like you’re speaking Klingon.”

This article comes Wisconsin, one of the few other places that refers to a water/drinking fountain as a “Bubbler.”  Rhode Islanders know that makes us distinct, but what geographic patterns are present in this linguistic quirk?  This regionally-based term comes from  the Kohler Company (from Wisconsin) that trademarked the term to sell their product and the name stuck in a few places (and internationally it is used in Australia as well).      

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Food stamps put Rhode Island town on monthly boom-and-bust cycle

Seth Dixon, Ph.D.‘s insight:

Rhode Island is one of five states in which the number of people getting  help from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-formerly known as ‘food stamps’) has more than doubled since 2008. In 2012, 16 percent of its residents received aid from the program. Read the related article.  The article details how Woonsocket’s economy is impacted by these monthly fluctuations is disposable income.  Why is Rhode Island one of that states with a doubling participation in this program? 

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Teaching South America and RIGEA 2.0

Earlier this month our Alliance coordinator Seth Dixon was the keynote speaker for a professional development entitled “Practical Strategies for Teaching Geography” and “Latin America: Inter-related Physical and Human Geographies.”  We’ve asked him to share these resources with us at an Alliance event while the Giant map of South America is available to be at the event.  Earlier the date for this was tentatively penciled in for April 18th, but with the map’s early arrival, we would like to announce that April 2nd will be the date for this event.  

Additionally, members of RIGEA’s strategic planning sub-committee have worked diligently the last 6 months to reconceptualize the structure and vision for our Alliance.  These members are passionate about ensuring that the future of the Alliance is strong and address the shifting educational landscape changes and as geographic tools modernize.  We would also like to share these visions of RIGEA and invite you to share your ideas with the strategic planning committee       

EVENT: Teaching South America and RIGEA 2.0
DATE AND TIME: April 2nd, 4pm
PLACE: 110 Alger Hall, Rhode Island College
Maps: Campus Map and Google Map.

Swirling Sediment Reveals Erosive Power of New England Storm

“In February 2013, a nor’easter pounded the eastern United States, doing particular damage along the coast of New England. Wind gusts reached hurricane-force in several coastal states, raising a four to five-foot (1 to 1.5 meter) storm surge on top of astronomically high tides. The result was extreme beach erosion along the coast of Massachusetts and other coastal areas.


The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured glimpses of the storm’s effect on the coastal environment. This image was taken on February 10, 2013, just hours after the nor’easter moved out to sea and several feet of fresh snow covered the landscape.” 

This next image shows the same place but with with the waters at a calmer time.

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Cartogram of Rhode Island


Cartograms “stretch” or “shrink” a map according to a the data  variable.  Instead of area, this cartogram’s data layer is based on population, so Foster shinks while the Providence metropolitan area expands.  How can you use this cartogram within the classroom?  What happens to you local area in this cartogram?  How does this give us a different picture of the Ocean State?  

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Thinking Geographically About International Issues

Brown University’s Choices Program invites secondary level geography teachers to apply for a 2013 Summer Institute that focuses on using the Choices approach and curricular materials to ask What is Where, Why, and So What?

Using the scholarship and lessons found in our The United States in Afghanistan unit as a springboard, the Institute will explore how the Choices approach and curricula materials can be implemented to develop geographically literate students, capable of asking and answering the big questions in geography.

The goal of the Institute is to build a community of educators dedicated to sharing best practices for using Choices materials and approach to teach about international issues through a geographic lens.

So what does a Choices Program Institute look like and what would you gain from the experience?

Participants will:

  • Benefit from content–rich presentations by university geographers;
  • Be immersed in the Choices approach to teaching about contested international issues through presentations, curricular modeling, and discussions;
  • Share best practices and approaches for addressing complex international issues with other educators from across the country; and
  • Develop plans to share strategies, resources, and insights gained from the Institute with other geography educators.

Housing, meals, Choices curriculum units, and a 20-hour certificate of completion are provided.

There is no fee for the Institute, but participants are required to cover their own travel to and from Providence, RI.

Participants are expected to conduct outreach activities upon completion of the Institute. Choices will provide materials for these activities.

Completed applications must be received by Monday, April 8.

Download Application

Submit applications to:

If you have questions, please email Mimi Stephens, Professional Development director.

This is a great national professional development institute that just so happens to be in our own backyard.  I would strongly encourage those eligible to consider applying.  The dates of the institute are June 26-28, 2013.

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