Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A different way for students to view the U.S.

SHOW USA is an online tool launched by Mapping Worlds. The website offers users a new way to look at the world by resizing countries on the map according to a series of global issues.

SHOW USA is ready to use - just select a subject from the top menu (People, Planet, Politics, Business, Living and their subcategories) and watch the states on the map change their size. Instead of land mass, the size of each state will represent the data for that subject--both its share of the total and absolute value. Roll you mouse over each state for a quick pop-up of state by state data. Underneath the map is a short explanation of the results, as well as a link to at least one book related to that subject.
After you select the subject and sub-category of interest the map immediately begins to change. For example, when I selected the Living category and the sub-category of Bigfoot Sightings, the map interestingly morphed to this;
Washington has the most Bigfoot sightings? Who knew?

SHOW USA can be a great way for teachers to visually show students data when studying ideas in geography, economics, current events, the environment, etc. It can easily integrate into any subject area as a useful and infomational supplement.

Students could certainly find SHOW USA a useful resource for research - each new map has an option to download or embed into a blog or website.

Young students beginning the study of U.S. geography often find it difficult to grasp the concept that Alaska is the largest, yet the smallest state. A quick click on the People tab and choosing Demographics very quickly morphs the country in front of your eyes - Alaska shrinks, while geographically tiny Connecticut dwarfs it. What better way for young students to really get this concept? Older students using SHOW USA as a research tool would find many ways to use these maps for comparison/contrast studies.

Lots of possibilities here - worth a quick trial run. Easy to play with, no registration or sign-in. Next to the title of this page is also a link to their other site SHOW WORLD, which offers a similar tool for viewing the world map.

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