Sunday, 18 January 2015

The Man who Set Himself on Fire

Another Strangers episode for you here, this time relevant to the geography of war and conflict. This was one of the most interesting episodes of Strangers I'd heard in a while (even though they are all great so it's hard to chose! btw I don't work for them in case you were wondering but they really do brighten up my commute!!).

Friday, 16 January 2015

Which Case Study? Rivers and Population Resource

So, a common error in the exam, particularly with essay questions, seems to be accidentally using the wrong case study and ending up not really answering the question properly. Understandable, since the pressure of being in an exam could make you panic and write about the first case study you can remember.

You don't want to end up like I did in my first year at university and go into the exam hoping the question on 'sea ice' would come up. After frantically scanning the question options for the words 'sea' and 'ice' and not seeing them anywhere, I resigned myself to answering a question on climate change using nothing but what I could remember from 'An Inconvenient Truth'. I still passed, but only just, which did not do justice to my weeks of hard work and revision.

The point is, upon leaving the exam I bumped into a friend who expressed her great relief that the sea ice question had come up. 'What?!' I exclaimed with a look of horror, 'are you talking about?!'.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Strangers of Hurricane Katrina

I recently discovered this podcast called Strangers, which has been keeping me company on my commute the past few weeks. Each episode is  a different real life story around the theme of strangers; how strangers can become friends and family, and how people you already know can become strangers to you in different ways.

Last week I listened to this episode, which featured a man who became a stranger to his own daughter before being reunited years later. Part of his story was about his experience of Hurricane Katrina and his personal account of how this event changed his life.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Case Study of a Face Eating Parasite

After marking hundreds essays about HIV over the summer, the typical case study of an infectious disease, and becoming increasingly bored of the lack of variation when there are so many other important infectious diseases in the world I decided it was time to introduce my students to something new: a FACE EATING parasite!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

How much do You know about the Kalahari Desert?

I recently signed up for a free trial with Netflix and last night I came across David Attenborough's Africa series and watched the first episode and part of the second (ok I know it came out a year ago and I need to get up to date!).

Anyway, I enjoyed it immensely, the stunning photography, the narrative, the sound track - all beautifully put together. It starts with the mystery fairy circles, which I had never heard of but immediately diverted me for half an hour of Google searches and made me wish I could do a field trip there to take some soil samples and see whether I could find any environmental gradients. Or get hold of some remotely sensed images to examiner their distribution and see if there was a pattern.

The stories of the animals really draw you in, from the nightmarish invasion of the giant ground crickets, to the mischievous drongo, the amazing cartwheeling spider and the romantic encounters of black rhinos under the stars.

And if all that isn't enough, it's narrated by Sir David Attenborough, so how could you not like it! (Although I was sad to discover a few weeks ago that not only had some of my AS students never heard of him, one of them even asked me if he was a paedophile?! =O).

Of course, the best thing about it was that I couldn't help noticing all the links to geography. I found myself wishing all my students were watching it too! So, I decided at 11pm last night it would be a good idea to make a quiz to go with the first episode. It could either be used in class or set as a homework, but particularly relevant for anyone studying arid environments (deserts).

I hope it's useful to somebody, let me know if you'd like me to make quizzes for the other episodes too. By the looks of it they will be very geographical too, and I definitely plan to watch them all so I may as well make up some questions as I do! 

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