maps used in my Advanced Human Geography course

The Wizarding World (one of several map easter eggs)

Background Advanced Geography –

Over the past decade+ years, I have attempted to create and curate maps that are easy to access, compare, and share. Deciding on what map visualizations to include in has been a thoughtfully thoughtless process. Basically, during class either students or I will say, “if only we had a map for that.” That thoughtless progress has slowly created 200+ maps within Which is great for me, because I was part of the class flow that decided if a certain map is needed. In other words, it is easy for me to incorporate all 200+ maps in the courses throughout the year because the data sets originate around experiences of what I teach.

That stated, with 200+ maps, and the fact that it is not easy organizing that many visualizations, I can understand how‘s curated library can be a bit overwhelming. Therefore, below are two tables with the maps commonly used when teaching “Population and Migration Patterns and Processes” and “Industrial and Economic Development Patterns and Processes.” The maps and concepts mostly come straight from the College Board’s Human Geography Course and Exam Description. There are a couple of extra maps, to string narratives mostly around dependency ratio, movement, and population pressures.

To display a map in, click select map at the bottom right of each map canvas. The table will help you find where these maps are found in’s menu structure.

Lastly, what places should students focus on? This year my colleague suggested we use the global regions and the most populous country within those regions as our focal points. We use the Population Reference Bureau to categorize our regions. Yes, there are always outliers, but this gives the students common comparisons to make at the global and global regional scales. See below

Global RegionSubregionCountry Name
AfricaEastern AfricaEthiopia
AfricaMiddle AfricaCongo, Dem. Rep.
AfricaNorthern AfricaEgypt, Arab Rep.
AfricaSouthern AfricaSouth Africa
AfricaWestern AfricaNigeria
AmericasCentral AmericaMexico
AmericasNorthern AmericaUnited States
AmericasSouth AmericaBrazil
AsiaCentral AsiaUzbekistan
AsiaEast AsiaChina
AsiaSouth AsiaIndia
AsiaSoutheast AsiaIndonesia
AsiaWestern AsiaTurkey
EuropeEastern EuropeRussian Federation
EuropeNorthern EuropeUnited Kingdom
EuropeSouthern EuropeItaly
EuropeWestern EuropeGermany
Population Reference Bureau Regions

Analyzing “Population and Migration Patterns and Processes” –

Population Distribution

MapsPhysical or Human GeographyMap Set
Population DensityHuman GeographyPopulation Density
Earth at NightHuman GeographyEarth at Night – 2016

Population Distribution and Land Use

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Arable landHuman GeographyGeography-Land
CroplandHuman GeographyGeography-Land
PasturelandHuman GeographyGeography-Land
Food v. FeedHuman GeographyGeography-Land

Demographics – Population Composition

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Total fertility rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Crude birth rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Crude death rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Migration (net)Human GeographyDemographics
Growth rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Infant mortality rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Total dependency ratioHuman GeographyDemographics
Youth dependency ratioHuman GeographyDemographics
Elderly dependency ratioHuman GeographyDemographics

Gender Inequality Index

Map Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Gender Inequality Index (GII)Human GeographyGender Inequality

Global Human Modification (population pressure)

Map Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Global Human Modification Human GeographyAnthropocene

Analyzing “Industrial and Economic Development Patterns and Processes” –

Human Development Index

Map Physical or Human Geography Map Set
2018 – HDIHuman GeographyHuman Development Index

Economic Indicators

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
GDP (per capita)Human GeographyEconomy
GNI (per capita)Human GeographyEconomy
Agriculture/mining labor
(% of labor force)
Human GeographyEconomy
Industry labor
(% of labor force)
Human GeographyEconomy
Service labor
(% of labor force)
Human GeographyEconomy

Health Indicators

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Infant mortality rateHuman GeographyDemographics
Life expectancyHuman GeographyDemographics
Physicians densityHuman GeographySociety

Social Indicators

Maps Physical or Human Geography Map Set
Electricity – fossil fuels
(% of Capacity)
Human GeographyEnergy
Electricity – renewable resources
(% of Capacity)
** According to source,
burning timber is renewable **
Human GeographyEnergy
Literacy rate – totalHuman GeographySociety
Gender Inequality Index (GII)Human GeographyGender Inequality

Sorry about the video music. I have an odd appreciation for YouTube’s stock music.

New Google Earth Projects: Dynamic Landscapes

TL;DR: Google Earth Projects: Dynamic Landscapes (Link to Projects)

Figure: Dynamic Landscapes Main Menu

One of my favorite concepts to teach and think about is this idea of scale and how our landscapes constantly change. Google Geo has a couple of tools that help capture both these concepts. First, Google has organized years of remote sensing images from several vendors. Many students and teachers have used Google Earth Engine’s Timelapse and/or have used Google Earth Pro’s (Desktop) “Historic Imagery.” With these tools, viewers can see a changing landscape from above. For example, the images below, from Google Earth Pro’s Historic Imagery, visualize Warsaw Poland in 1935 and 1945. In addition, Google Maps, not Earth, has historic Street View going back, in some places, for 15 years.

The goal of these Google Earth projects is to tell stories using these concepts of spatial and temporal scales. The four stories chosen to tell using these scales include the 2013 EF5 Tornado in Moore, OK; 2011 wildfires in Bastrop, TX; the 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake/Tsunami; and finally, the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, France.

Figure: Damage Path EF5 Tornado Moore, Ok 2013

While these catastrophes are life altering to those living thorough these events, I find it, as a teacher, easier to create empathy in students when these events can shift between small-scale/small detail to large scale large detail. In other words, at a small-scale students can see the extent of how much was damaged, but might miss the personal stories of loss, heroism, and perseverance. Shifting the perspective to the large-scale/large detail of Street View gives a glimpse of these personal narratives. Hopefully facilitating the growth of an empathetic citizen willing to help their world.

Figure: Historic Street View – TX Highway 21 (Left Image: 2011 | Right Image: 2013)

On the technology side, there is a little of everything Google Geo has to offer. The stories themselves are curated Wikipedia and US government websites using data from NOAA, FEMA, Google Earth Imagery, and Google’s Street View. The visual format of the stories’ panels were created using custom HTML with help from Google’s Material Design Lite and a little JS to show/hide layers and style the media. The Google Earth Layers are all tiled (x,y,z) raster images either created using MapTiler or, in some cases, Google Earth Engine. The historic Street View panels are done using Google Maps API. And lastly Google Earth Studio was used to create the spinning Earth found in the Dynamic Landscapes’ Main Menu project.

Figure: Earth Engine 2013 Tornado Data – Source NWS

In other words, these stories are an experimental convergence of hacks. And while I think they look fantastic; they will always be amateur. However, these stories could look so much more polished, and scalable, with a couple of Google Earth for Web features. First, historical imagery and historical Street View that could be included in Google Projects. Second, toggle switch widgets for showing/hiding layers. Third, and one that I have been unable to hack yet, would be the ability to “set a scene” by enabling and disabling Map Styles like visible features (roads, places, poi), 3d imagery and clouds:) The ability to add ground overlays would also be useful to many users. This would remove some friction that is introduced with tile overlays. Lastly, and this will probably make no sense to anyone, but the ability to assign Ids to features like placemarks (points, lines, polygons), ground overlays (tiles), folders, full screen panels, etc. While I am at it…maybe the Earth Engine team could help me out with exporting video (x,y,z) tiles from Earth Engine’s code editor. Very selfish request.

Figure: Tōhoku Tsunami Model – Source NOAA

Anyways, please let me know via Twitter or Facebook if you would like for me to create a tutorial on anything you found interesting within these stories. I truly enjoy creating and learning from these experiences.

What are El Niño and La Niña? Google Earth Project

TL;DR What are El Niño and La Niña? Google Earth Project

I love finding informational U.S. government websites that fit the curriculum. In this case, and many others, NOAA created a page that does a really good job informing viewers about El Niño and La Niña (Link). What I enjoy about these sites is the opportunity to add value by transferring them into Google Earth stories. Now students can get the information in a package that allows for a bit more exploration. Or at least students get to push more buttons.

Anyways, please take if for a spin and share away if you think it will help student. Click here to open Google Earth Project: What are El Niño and La Niña?

If you are interested, here are some additional Google Earth Stories.

PSA: Teachers…If you are wanting to share this or other Google Projects with students and your school is a Google EDU campus. You might have to first share to your Teacher Workspace EDU account and then make a copy. (Three dot icon next to the trach can icon –> “Copy Project” Then share the copy to your students. Most EDU accounts do not allow for outside domain sharing. This puts a copy within your EDU Domain. Geo 4 Good 2021

TL;DR: Here is a GitHub Repository for those who just want to see Earth’s Changing Oceans html, CSS, and JavaScript. (Link) Or make a copy of the demonstrated Google Earth Project. (Link)

It is always great to share Google Earth Project ideas at Geo for Good Summits. This year’s presentation utilized Earth Web’s new tile features along with folders. I originally wanted to create a post on how the demonstrated Google Earth Project was created, but I thought it would be better to create a simple project that uses the same basic ideas and structure.

The simple story created in this post is Austin and Las Vegas’ urban growth 2000 – 2020. This post will be a guide starting from creating and exporting map tiles using Google Earth Engine through the creation of an Earth Project using these tiles. Being completely unaware of people’s knowledge and skills, the lack of real time meaningful feedback, and the use of multiple platforms creates many challenges for this post. My hope is that the videos and code snippets help, but feel free to reach out. You can find me on Twitter @geteach.

Lastly, the typical disclaimer. I am a high school geography teacher and not a professional developer. Hopefully this tinkering adds value to whatever you are trying to create.

Table of Contents

I. Environment / Setting

  1. Google Chrome
  2. Google Cloud Storage
  3. Earth Engine – Code Editor
  4. Image Viewer – Any should work (IrfanView – Windows)
  5. VS Code
  6. All Tutorial Files used are in this GitHub Repository
  7. Patience

II. Setup Google Cloud Storage to House Map Tiles

  1. Create a bucket for the project
  2. Create paths to store Map tiles and other assets
    • Austin/2000
    • Austin/2020
    • LV/2000
    • LV/2020
Above Video: Set up Google Cloud Storage Folders

III. Create and Export Map Data Using Earth Engine

  1. Create cloudless map layers of Landsat 7 data
  2. Using bounding box to only save map data for Austin and Las Vegas
Above Video: Creating Earth Engine Maps

  1. Export the Map Tiles to Google’s Cloud Storage
Above Video: Export Map Tiles via Earth Engine

  1. Export the Panel Images to Google’s Cloud Storage
Above Video: Create and Export Panel Images

IV. Create Google Earth Project and Folder Structure

  1. Create New Google Earth Project
  2. Create full screen splash introduction placeholder
  3. Create Folders for…
    • Austin
      • Austin 2000
      • Austin 2020
    • Las Vegas
      • Las Vegas 2000
      • Las Vegas 2020
  4. Add Tiled Maps
  5. To get folder/feature IDs – Export Project as kml
Above Video: Structure Google Earth Story

V. Programmatically Control Earth Project Folders and Features (The Secret Sauce)

  1. Export KML
  2. Create hidden div for links
  3. Create JavaScript loop to show/hide features
Above Video: The Secret Sauce

VI. Create Introduction Splash Screen (Set the Presentation)

  1. Add image, title and description to introduction screen
  2. Set the “CLICK TO EXPLORE” button
  3. Copy/paste HTML into Google Earth Project
Above Video: Edit Introduction/Splash Screen

VII. Create 1st Panel within Austin Folder

  1. Edit Carousel, Text
  2. Set Features to hide/show
Above Video: Create Austin Panel and Set Map Overlays

  1. Set “Flyto” function for Austin Panel
Above Video: Add “Flyto” Function to Austin Panel

VIII. Create 2nd Panel within Las Vegas Folder

  1. Edit Carousel, Text
  2. Set Features to hide/show
  3. Set “Flyto” function for Las Vegas Panel
Above Video: Create Las Vegas Panel

IX. Tutorial GitHub Repository UI Refresh

Swipe Right: New UI / Swipe Left: Old UI

It has been about five years since’s last UI refresh. There are several issues that have been resolved. Watching students use the site in my classroom has brought on many of these changes, but some are just me wanting to tinker around. The most significant changes center around students using touch screens on their 11.6” Chromebooks.

Other changes have to do with scrolling of panels and creating a vertical split screen mode for modern, relatively large, smarty phones and/or tablets. As always, I am a one teacher shop that can only test on the devices that teachers can afford. So hopefully the new design works for your students. If not, the old version will be hosted here for the time being.

Swipe above image: New larger and on-hover highlighted buttons

Swipe above image: “Select Map” menu has been reworked to better fit smaller screens

Swipe above image: Close Streetview icon added to panel’s header

Swipe above image: Added scrollbars to each panel to accommodate smaller screen sizes

Swipe above image: The importance of scroll bars. Allowing students to work with varying window sizes

“Layers” automatically toggles on after clicking a map set

New vertical view option which might not help a lot in landscape on a computer, but…

..pretty handy in portrait mode on my Note 8 (image above) and/or a tablet in portrait mode

**Phone viewport must be wider than 385px**