ESEA Reauthorization – Action Alert

An important letter from the Association of American Geographers (AAG) regarding authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA):

Dear AAG Members:

As many of you are aware, the AAG has been working diligently in recent years to promote the message that the next enacted version of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) should include a specific funding authorization for K-12 geography education.  Geography is specified as one of nine core academic subjects in the existing law but is the only one that does not have a dedicated funding stream.

We wrote to you a few months ago to let you know that Congress was considering a reauthorization of the ESEA, which is currently known as No Child Left Behind.  We have received many positive responses and heard from several individuals who reached out to their members of Congress.

– Action Alert –

We at the Association have had continuous interactions with Senators and staff members recently, and we have learned that the Senate Education Committee plans to mark up an ESEA reauthorization bill this week.  The good news is that, unlike early versions of the Committee’s legislation, geography is now named in the bill as a core academic subject, eligible for funding under the proposed bill.

One major dynamic that has impacted the composition of the draft legislation is a desire on the part of Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) to streamline federal education funds into flexible block grants for states to apportion as they see fit.  While we will continue to stress the importance of dedicated national funding for K-12 geography, this new approach does present an opportunity for individual states to use these large block grants to fund geography in their K-12 education programs.  Regardless, the legislative process is far from concluded and we will continue to engage with Congressional leaders to promote the importance of funding geography-education initiatives as part of the ESEA.

In sharing our message with Congress, we have been using the “AAG Resolution Supporting K-12 Geography Education,” which we began circulating in 2010 and calls for funding of K-12 geography in the ESEA.  We also urge the Administration to include geography and geospatial education in its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) proposals.  The AAG Resolution has been endorsed by four former U.S. Secretaries of State; 22 incumbent state Governors; 25 Fortune 500 companies; and many other prominent individuals and organizations (see:  You may find this AAG Resolution useful in making your position on these issues known to your Congressional representatives.

We always encourage AAG members to contact your Senators and Representative to express your views on issues of importance.  The links below provide information about contacting members of Congress through the phone or internet. AAG members may also wish to use social media, such as Twitter or Facebook, to share their perspectives with elected officials, friends, colleagues, and the wider community.

Contact information for all U.S. Senators can be found at:

You can locate your member of the House of Representatives by going to:

If you have any questions, please contact John Wertman, the AAG’s Senior Program Manager for Government Relations, at , or Doug Richardson, AAG Executive Director, at .

Thank you,

Douglas Richardson and John Wertman

7 Billion and Counting

Population is a complicated topic. There will soon be seven billion people on the planet. By 2045 global population is projected to reach nine billion. Can the planet take the strain? With the worldwide population slated to top 7 billion in 2011, National Geographic magazine  kicked off a year-long series of articles related to humanity’s remarkable growth spurt, with the first story focusing on the consequences of hitting 7 billion humans later this year and the basics of demography.

  1. Are there too many people on the planet?
  2. Are we in the “age of man?”
  3. Whathappens when our oceans become acidic?
  4. How will we cope with changing climate?
  5. Can we feed seven billion of us?
  6. Whatinfluences women to have fewer children?
  7. Is there enough for everyone?
  8. Are cities the cure for our growing pains?

Here is a video introduction to the series:

Read all the articles on

What is a Geographic Information System (GIS)?

Remember those multi-layered images of the human body from middle school science class, showing the body’s skeletal system, nervous system and so on? GIS is similar. It layers modern geographical maps—of streets, buildings, neighborhoods, even subterranean infrastructure—using 21st century technology.

GIS technology works by linking information stored in databases to a place or location. Users can question the data and present the answers in maps, tables and other graphic representations. Since 80% of all information has a geographic component, the power of GIS can be widely used to support decision-making and problem solving across all sectors—public, private, and not-for-profit.

Why do governments use GIS technology? It is an important tool for determining public policy. In a book about public policy, R.W. Greene says, “The realization is growing that almost everything that happens in a public policy context also happens in a geographic one: transportation planners, water resources studies, education subcommittees, redistricting boards, planning commissions, and crime task forces all must consider questions of where along with the usual ones of how, and why, and how much will it cost. GIS, by answering the first question, helps to answer the others.”

Hold World Landmarks in Your Hands with ARSights & Google Earth

ARSights Using Google Earth
A while back I reported on virtual digital holograms, wondering when they would make their way into the mapping arena. Over the past year ARSights, a project by Inglobe Technologies, an italian company specialized in the development of Virtual and Augmented Reality applications, has been building a community-based collection of 3-d virtual models of landmarks all over the world. This fascinating use of the technology is focused on education. Imagine… your students fly to Europe, glide around Italy – looking at the topography of the country as they zoom into to Rome. Now they pick up the Colosseum to really examine it, turning it round and round to really examine what’s there. Requires Google Earth, a web cam, and the ARSights download.

Noel Jenkins of Digital Geography posts this YouTube video showing how things look:

According to the ARSights, there are over 400 contributors now who have started “to share interesting content from many parts of the world. You can take a look at new models mainly in the USA, South America and Europe. Among others, you will find many important landmarks, like for example the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Memorial, the “Fiscal Island” in Rio de Janeiro, the University City in Buenos Aires and il Ponte di Rialto in Venice.”

Urban Orienteering Comes to Indianapolis

picture-31I’m really looking forward to participating in the Indiana Geographic Information Council’s first fund-raising event – Urban Orienteering in Downtown Indianapolis on August 15th.  In fact, I’m taking the whole family!  A couple years ago, TrueNorth Team Navigation (with former IGIC board member, Jeff Coats) presented an IGIC seminar and mini-course at the State Library and it was great fun.  This summer’s event will be kept small, and it may be viewed as a “trial run” for a future city-wide annual event.

Orienteering is a popular international recreational sport – and a perfect fit for Indianapolis.  If you are in the neighborhood, you should definately check it out.  Now, to pick out our team colors…. 🙂

This summer, IGIC is presenting a fun-filled afternoon of Orienteering in downtown Indianapolis. The event marks IGIC’s first official fundraiser, and is open to all IGIC members and their families.

Participants will compete in a TrueNorth Team Navigation! (tm) event. Related to the international sport of Orienteering, Team Navigation! (tm) is an outdoor activity where groups hunt down checkpoints using maps and compasses. Teams solve realistic challenges and improve their group decision-making, problem-solving, listening and communication skills. And at the end of the road – a treasure chest!

This event is limited to 50 teams. Teams can consist of 2-3 people, while each family (any size) can be on one team. An entry into a special prize drawing will be given for every $10 in donations the team contributes. Teams are asked to collect $50 in donations to help support IGIC, but any donation will be appreciated!

Registration is free. We hope to see you there!

Huck Finn Project

In concert with the 2005 Indiana Orthophotography Project, an education and outreach project was established inviting schools, communities, and youth organizations to create large outdoor artworks to be captured in photographs as planes flew overhead mapping the state.

The Huck Finn Project celebrated youth though fun and creative learning experiences that kids can really “own”. Through a series of lesson plans and activities, Indiana schools were invited to learn about art, geography, literature, math, science and government, history and their community while developing creative artworks to be captured in the IndianaMap.

  • Art – schools participate in art design competitions to develop artwork to be transferred onto outdoor surfaces to be captured in the Spring 2005 orthophotography. Through the “Paint Your Playground” students learn about color, composition, and scale. When the new orthophotography is available in the late fall of 2005 / early winter of 2006, art work will be displayed on the web in a specially designed mapping application. Selected art works will be formally exhibited at a number of forums through the state and nationally.
  • Geography – learn the basics of aerial imagery and map making and how maps are made and used in the 21st century. Grade-appropriate lesson plans focus on location, measurement, cartography, electronic map navigation, weather, and more!
  • Literature – advanced grades can learn more about one of America’s most noted author, Mark Twain, by retracing the steps of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn down the Mississippi River.
  • Math – use math skills as you learn the geometry of correcting the flat surfaces of photography to the round, hilly surfaces of the earth.
  • Science and Government – advanced lessons introduce students to geographic information systems – a technology that is emerging as an essential toolset for scientific discovery and the business of government – Why is the State orthophotography being flown? What is the IndianaMap?
  • History – learn about the evolution of “remote sensing” and aerial photography from the use of hot air balloons through satellite imagery.
  • Community – each school’s artwork can reflect a theme about their community.

Partners: Indiana Geographic Information Council, Inc. Geography Educators’ Network of Indiana, Inc. IndianaView at Purdue University Indiana Geological Survey at Indiana University Access Indiana Information Network
Funded by: Alliance for Indiana

Jill Saligoe-Simmel conceptualized the projects over cocktails with

  • Designed project and secured grant funding
  • Coordinated project team
  • Developed educational materials and supporting website