For the Love of Maps

National Geographic Education Blog

By Seth Dixon, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Geography, Rhode Island College

I have a confession to make; I’m a map geek. Even as a kid watching Raiders of the Lost Ark, I was fascinated by the map they used to segue between scenes to show Indiana Jones’ travels. Forget the one I mean? Watch the clip below.

The spatial information stored in that single image heightened the level of mystery and intrigue in the adventure for me. Ever since then I’ve loved the idea of combining videos with maps, so I produced this interactive map using ArcGIS online (the metadata for the map is available here). This mapping feature spatially indexes over 60 of my favorite place-based videos that I use in my classes. Since all of these videos specifically refer to particular places, they are spatially indexed on this map. The maps are marked with varying degrees of…

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Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor could soon become national park

If enacted, the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, its official name, will be Rhode Island’s first national park.
The state currently has a national memorial, which marks the settlement of Providence founded by Roger Williams, at the foot of College Hill; a national historical site, Touro Synagogue, in Newport; and a national historic trail, the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route that travels through nine states, including Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia.
“The Blackstone Valley is a national treasure that deserves to be preserved,” Reed said in a news release. “It is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and includes thousands of acres of beautiful, undeveloped land, and waterways that are home to diverse wildlife, cultural sites, and numerous recreational opportunities for Rhode Islanders.”


Historical Geography of Whaling

“Summer 2014 brought a sight that had not been seen since 1941: the Charles W. Morgan leaving the Mystic River for the Atlantic Ocean, stopping at several New England harbors before eventually arriving in New Bedford, Massachusetts where the ship was built in 1841. The Charles W. Morgan is the last remaining wooden whaling ship in the world, and a National Historic Landmark.”


Only two countries today are stilling whaling (Japan and Norway), but the whaling industry was a critical component to the settling of New England.  Check out this Maps 101 podcast for short introduction to the historical geography of New England whaling.  

Tagspodcast, Maps 101, historicalbiogeography.

Can you name these countries using only satellite photos?

There are some beautiful images and places to be discovered through this quiz.  This set of aerial photographs challenges the reader to guess the country where the image was taken; even with two options, it’s quite challenging.  This forces the reader to use context clues in the physical and human landscapes to make an education guess.  If you are looking for more, here is an additional quiz.  To explore more Google Earth images, Stratocam is a great place to start.

Tags: landscape, remote sensing, geospatial, trivia, games.