Thinking geographically and spatially

Thinking geographically and spatially

(example use in Kew)

The app supports students in rethinking and engaging with aspects of clear geospatial thinking and classification in new ways.

Sophie is studying the Mangrove swamp in one of the glasshouses at Kew gardens. She attempts to take a picture of the swamp but realises that video and tagging would be better for capturing the whole swamp. Pictures work in detail and show specific parts, while video allows for a broader perspective to be taken. Sophie notes that the bark on the Mangrove tree is smooth and wonders why this is the case when “bark in the UK on most trees tends to be rough”. This raises the question of where the Mangrove plant is from in the world. She goes to upload the video to Google Earth, but notices, and points out to the teacher  – even though she is trying to find a different country – that “there isn’t a United Kingdom tag option when I go to upload?” The list of countries available to Sophie does not include the UK as there are no flora and fauna from the UK within the glasshouse. The teacher puts the question back to Sophie as to why this might be the case. Sophie realises that being in the UK is why there is no UK tag option. The teacher goes further and asks what patterns Sophie has noticed in taking pictures and gathering video. She observes that, “most of the plants came from the middle area of the world, the equator.” From this simple close observation of the bark, a supported conversation about climate and plant adaptation occurred. The Mangrove plant required classification, and the tagging forced the student to begin to think both geographically and spatially. The teacher’s prompt questioning made the student think about their own and the plant’s location at a ‘higher level’. The app helped the students to dive in and step out of a close view (detail) with the larger perspective e.g. locations around the world, equatorial climate, and continents. This enabled students to use the app to engage in learning, adding up to students rethinking their own ideas of location, place and classification. The teacher finally says to the student: “The glasshouse is like a mini-world. And now we are back outside in the UK”.

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