NCGE Training Project Results in Dam Failure Study

North Dakota ReservoirDirections Magazine recently published “Emergency Preparedness and Response Planning for Catastrophic Dam Failure” by Jacquelin J. Stenehjem  and Dr. Peter G. Oduor. Stenehjem participated in a National Council for Geographic Education training initiative, which the authors described in the article.

The growth of geospatial technology would be even greater if more well-trained workers were available.  Many industries and agencies cannot fill open positions, even in this time of high unemployment. The Integrated Geospatial Education and Technology Training (iGETT) project, funded by the National Science Foundation with a 2012 grant to the National Council for Geographic Education, was developed to address the growing workforce need for geospatially-trained employees able to use remote sensing and geographic information systems (GIS).

The study focused on Williston, North Dakota, which is downstream from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-operated Fort Peck Dam. According to the article, the dam creates the fifth-largest reservoir in the United States. Stenehjem and Oduor demonstrate how remote sensing and geographic information systems can be valuable tools to aid communities in preparing for and responding to disasters.

AP Human Geography Growth Noted

A lengthy article in Education Week reports on the dramatic growth trajectory of the AP Human Geography exam.

Geography may not be particularly known as a hot topic among today’s students—even some advocates suggest it suffers from an image problem—but by at least one measure, the subject is starting to come into its own.

Across more than 30 topics covered in the Advanced Placement program, participation in geography is rising faster than any other. It’s joined by AP courses like Chinese, environmental science, psychology, and world history that have been gaining ground most rapidly in recent years.

The article goes on to explore possible explanations for geography’s growing popularity, with quotes from Daniel Edelson, National Geographic’s vice president for education.

“It reflects the interest in the subject and the fact that there is still a lot of room to grow across the country,” he said. “I don’t know if anybody has a projection for how long it will continue at this pace, but we’re nowhere near saturation.”

Advanced Placement (AP), a program of the College Board, provides an opportunity for high school students to earn college credit by taking challenging courses that are equivalent to those offered at the college level. The 2011 geography exam included 75 multiple-choice questions and three free-response essays. Students in the class of 2011 took more than 45,000 AP Human Geography exams, according to data from the College Board. The geography exam was first administered in May 2001 to 3,293 students.

More on this topic:

8th Annual AP Report to the Nation from the College Board
Human Geography Subject Supplement
from the College Board
AP Human Geography Course Home Page from the College Board
AP Human Geography resources
at the NCGE website

The Geography Teacher, January 2012

The Geography TeacherArticles

  • The Freshman Nine: Helping High School Freshmen Be Successful in AP Human Geography by Jennifer Garner
  • Connecting with Rice: Carolina Lowcountry and Africa by Jerry T. Mitchell, Larianne Collins, Susan Wise, and Monti Caughman
  • Multimedia Technology and Students’ Achievement in Geography by Edmar Bernardes DaSilva and Robb Neil Kvasnak

Lesson Plans

  • Finding Geography Using Found Poetry by Ellen J. Foster
  • Thinking Like a Geographer by Margaret Shaw Chernosky

Reading Our World: Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport

  • Introduction by Elizabeth R. Hinde
  • Lesson Plan by Marty Mater


  • What is Geography? book review by Brenda Lee Whitsell
  • The European Space Agency School Atlas-Geography from Space: A Review of the Atlas, Teacher’s Handbook, and CD-ROM product review by Jay Marble

The Geography Teacher presents innovative teaching strategies and essential content for K-12 geography, AP Human Geography, introductory college geography, and pre-service methods classrooms and courses. It is published twice a year. The journal is just one of the benefits of membership in the National Council for Geographic Education. Why not renew or join today!

Cities Less Segregated, Study Shows

Two fellows at the Manhattan Institute have analyzed data from 13 American population counts to track the rise and, more recently, the decline of racial segregation in American cities. The report, The End of the Segregated Century: Racial Separation in America’s Neighborhoods, 1890-2010, by Edward Glaeser and Jacob Vigdor presents four main findings:

  1. The most standard segregation measure shows that American cities are now more integrated than they’ve been since 1910.
  2. All-white neighborhoods are effectively extinct.
  3. Gentrification and immigration have made a dent in segregation.
  4. Ghetto neighborhoods persist, but most are in decline.

The report uses the census data to provide a very informative historical survey of racial segregation in American cities. Do the report’s key findings match your observations in your community?

—Tim Hill

The Next Supercontinent

Amasia Map

The continents as they appear today and as they may appear in about 100 million years. Maps: Mitchell et al, Nature.

Move over Pangaea, your days as Earth’s most famous supercontinent may be coming to an end—in about 100 million years. That’s the theory put forth by Ross Mitchell, a geologist at Yale University, in a new study published in the journal Nature.

In the early 1900s Alfred Wegener famously proposed the idea that Earth’s tectonic plates are slowly moving around the planet. About 300 million years ago a single landmass, or supercontinent, called Pangaea was centered on the present-day location of West Africa. As the plates continued their slow drift, Pangaea broke apart and formed the continents and oceans we know today.

Mitchell’s research involving the magnetic orientation in ancient rocks led him to conclude that the continents are slowly moving northward and will eventually form a supercontinent centered on the Arctic. According to Mitchell, this tectonic plate movement will fuse the Americas and Eurasia, forming a new supercontinent called Amasia.

Mitchell discussed his research and supercontinent modeling on the February 9, 2012, Nature Podcast.

More on this topic:

‘Amasia': The Next Supercontinent? from All Things Considered on National Public Radio

—Tim Hill