Tuesday, June 26, 2012

S'More Tech Summer Camp, Day 17 (Infographics)

Hi campers!

Yes, we will eventually move on from infographics. But right now, everyone seems to be really interested in them. And I want to learn plenty so I'm ready to dive in with my students next year.

Today we're gonna get geographic with our infographics at National Geographic's MapMaker Interactive. I read about this on the Free Tech 4 Teachers blog. And we all know that geo-literacy is a vital twenty-first century skill! (If you're not convinced, you can watch this video.)

There are LOTS of mapping activities and videos on this site. You can also print maps of the world, countries, or states, if you need hard copies for a project.

But we want to play with infographics right now, don't we?

You begin by choosing one of six themes, then a subcategory. The themes are: Physical Systems - Water; Physical Systems - Land; Physical Systems - Climate; Human Systems - Population & Culture; Human Systems - Political & Economic; & Environment and Society.

Last year, our third graders did a research project about sudden changes to the earth's surface. Using this tool, we could have chosen the theme of "Physical Systems - Land" and the subcategory of Earthquakes. After the selection is made, the map then changes to show significant earthquakes since 1900. Then you can move the map around and zoom in or out to show different parts of the world and their earthquakes.

This toolbar at the top right of the map allows you to navigate, measure, draw, and mark on the map. The drawing tool allows freehand drawing as well as labeling. The button on the far right allows you to change the type of map you are using (National Geographic, satellite, street view, topographic, and others).

So, I could measure the distance from our town, San Antonio, to the nearest recorded "significant" earthquake. The measurement tool helped me figure out which one was closer, although the white print showing the distance is hard to see on this screen shot.

After you've created your map graphic, with your drawings, labels, and measurements, you can print it, or link to it, all without logging in or creating an account. You can't save it as a graphic, unless you use the print screen or screen shot technique.

I have to say that this map maker is REALLY fun to play with! The tools are pretty intuitive, and should be within the abilities of third grade and up, at least!

At our school (maybe in our whole state?), geography and social studies tend to get neglected in elementary school because they aren't tested in elementary school. I would love to include this interactive map maker in a project with a class next year. I think they would actually get hooked on it and play with it in their spare time!

Give it a try, and tell me what you think. How could you use this with your students?

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