|Image; Auckland Museum|
Monday, November 10, 2014
Maps & Meaning
42° 23' 11"N
71° 16' 22"W
For coordinates by address in the U.S., check Stephen Morse, or use an atlas, globe, or Google Earth for other places throughout the world.
EarthView has returned to the Cambridge School of Weston, an independent, progressive high school with a rich history of innovative teaching. Co-coordinator James Hayes-Bohanan took it there for his daughter's "Maps & Meaning" class last year. Students from that class were so energized by this unique way of experiencing a map that this year's class was eager to have EarthView return.
The visit was a reminder that students of any age can get excited about seeing the world in a new way. It is also a reminder that a map or globe can be used for lots of different kinds of learning. Because students in these classes had been analyzing the ways maps can represent the same reality differently, their questions about EarthView were quite interesting. As the video below makes clear -- the students gave EarthView a very warm welcome.
One of the questions of perception asked by a CSW student is actually one that the EarthView team hears a lot -- "Is it in the correct proportions?" Most people do not spend much time looking at world maps, and even less time looking at globes. And the most commonly viewed maps use a Mercator or similar projection that greatly exaggerates the size of land masses at high latitudes -- so that Greenland rivals South America and Antarctica looks like a very wide rectangle. In reality -- and in EarthView -- Greenland is rather small, Antarctica is rather round, and Africa is much bigger than most people expect it to be. Also, since many projections divide the Pacific Ocean, almost everyone who enters EarthView is surprised at its size.
We discussed the question of whether new islands are still being discovered, and in fact some are, and it is sometimes difficult to know whether they are new discoveries, newly precise ways of viewing complex groups of islands, or perhaps new lands formed by volcanoes. A couple of years ago, though, we did learn about the opposite -- the undiscovery of Sandy Island, an island that never existed, but which has appeared on maps for 200 years.