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If: A Mind-Bending New Way of 
Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers
David J. Smith
A Mind-Bending New Way
Of Looking at Big
Ideas and Numbers

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This Child, Every Child: A 
Book for Children About the Rights of Children
This Child Every Child
David J. Smith
A Picture Book About
The Rights of Children
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If the World Were a Village SECOND EDITION
If the World Were a Village

David J. Smith

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If America Were a Village
If America Were a Village
David J. Smith
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Click here to see all the hotlinks from Previous Years:

2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005 - 2004 - 2003 - 2002 - 2001 - 2000 - 1999 - 1998 - 1997 - 1996

Note: links (over 500) are not maintained and may not work.

Hotlinks For 2015 By Date

4 to 11 January, 2015

Astrobiology: Life In The Universe
OK, this isn't global geography, but it is fascinating. This is the NASA site pulling together all the searches for evidence of life elsewhere in the universe. In the section "About Astrobiology", they say "NASA’s Astrobiology Program addresses three fundamental questions: How does life begin and evolve? Is there life beyond Earth and, if so, how can we detect it? What is the future of life on Earth and in the universe?" Definitely worth visiting and browsing.

11 to 18 January, 2015

Name these countries using only satellite photos
This is a collection of satellite photos of the Earth, and with each one you are given two choices to identify the location. Some are pretty obvious, some are very challenging. It's also a game -- you start out with three lives, and each error removes one life, but for each level you complete, you gain a new life. If you play it again and again, you'll keep doing better, because the pictures are the same each time you play, but it's still a fun and interesting challeng.

18 to 25 January, 2015

Index Mundi
This site calls itself "home of the internet's most complete country profiles. I can't disagree. There is an amazing amount of data here, from US quick facts to World fact explorers, to World Bank indicators, to trade statistics. Whatever you need, there's probably a link to it here.

25 January to 1 February, 2015

Turbulence Forecast
Planning to fly somewhere? Curious about the potential for a turbulent ride? Check out this site; using forecasts from the National Weather Service as well as current pilot reports, they publish maps of "Potential Turbulence Areas". You can select from a variety of options -- US only, Canada, Atlantic East or Westbound, South America, Africa, Australia, Asia/Pacific, Hawai'i, Japan, and two different Polar Routes. You can also look at changes and developments over the past 24 hours. And you can receive forecasts by email. A great site for pilots, and for curious passengers.

1 to 8 February, 2015

Picture Book Theology Blog
This ambitious blogger features a new picture book every day for a year; on Jan 8, she was on day 264. Every day, she reviews a new book, describes the contents and the age level, and ways to use the book -- in classrooms as well as in spiritual settings. A remarkable effort, and it's great fun to read the descriptions and view the covers. Even if you're not at all interested in the spiritual side of this, the books are well worth reviewing, and reading.

8 to 15 February, 2015

Periodic Table & Countries Where Elements Were Discovered
Smithsonian Magazine constantly amazes. This is both a map and a table of the elements -- it's laid out according to the modern Periodic Table, but each element is shown with the flag of the nation where it was discovered. There's lots of other information here, about the search for the elements. Great fun. You may be surprised to see that the largest number of elements were discovered in the UK, followed by Sweden and Germany, then the US and France.

15 to 22 February, 2015

Amazing Maps
An archive of the regular twitter posts at @Amazing_Maps. The author is dedicated to providing a feed of amazing maps, a steady diet of mind-boggling maps to make you think, to make you gasp.

22 February to 1 March, 2015

The Beauty of Maps
A 17-part BBC series of short videos about maps and mapmaking and the power of maps; this link is for the YouTube colection of all 17 videos. They are each 3 or 4 minutes, some less. It covers early maps and atlases, and modern map makers. Fascinating.

1 to 8 March, 2015

40 Maps That Explain the Roman Empire
This site walks you through the history of the Roman Empire, from its earliest origins to it widest expanse, and all the way to the end. Great maps, that answer all those questions you've always wondered -- where were the Numidians in all of this, what about the Illyrians, and so on. Seriously, though, a site that is well worth exploring; there is a tremendous amount of information, including some corrections at the end.

8 to 15 March, 2015

Most Common Job in Every State 1978-2014
The NPR Money Blog, Planet Money, calls itself "The Economy Explained". This site is a great source of data and enlightenment. On this page, they display a map of the US states, and show the most common job in each state from 1978 to 2014. Watch the Farmers disappear, and marvel at the incredible rise of Truck Driving as a common job. You can also review information by state -- for example, the most common job in Alaska went from Secretary in 1978 to Primary School Teacher in 2014.

15 to 22 March, 2015

How much snowfall becomes a "snow day"?
A map of the US showing how much snow it usually takes to cancel schools. Schools in the north and in the mountains, used to lots of snow, require more snow to cancel; schools in the south, less. Nothing more to say. Interesting look at the US and the impact of weather on life.

22 to 29 March, 2015

Understanding Fundamentals of Geography
An Australian page, built of links to information about the funamentals of geography; sections, with links, include General Resources, Physical Geography, Biogeography and Ecology, Meteorology and Climatology, Geology and Geomorphology, and a section of related links. Very valuable resource for teachers of geography, and for anyone interested in exploring the vast field.

29 March to 5 April, 2015

Very Bad Maps That Explain Nothing
An amazing collection of "map fails", maps that presumably were intended to demonstrate or teach something, but which absolutely do not. These includes maps with unbelievable errors, maps with countries missing (France totally missing on a map of Europe), maps of countries and continents mislabeled (all of South America labeled "Mexico" for example.) The last few maps are from different cable news outlets, with atrocious errors of place and location.

5 to 12 April, 2015

Easter Island -- U. of Hawai'i
Easter Island -- National Geographic
Rapa Nui, the preferred name for Easter Island in the Southeastern Pacific, is generally considered to be the point on Earth farthest from any other point. Here are two different well-researched web pages about the island and its people and its statues and its history.

12 to 19 April, 2015

Killer Digital Libraries and Archives
From the Open Education Database, an amazing collection of State-Oriented Digital libraries. It's a very long page, listing the states alphabetically, and listing libraries under each one, so best to use your browser's search box to find libraries for the state you're interested in (unless it's Alabama...) There are also links to other websites that will point you to further state information. (Note: some states, such as Rhode Island, are missing here; for those states, and for further searching, use the incredibly detailed "multi-state resources" list at the end of the page.

19 to 26 April, 2015

25 Maps that explain English
A group of people have assembled this remarkable collection of 25 maps that show where English started, how it moved around the world, how it evolved into all the differently accented languages spoken today. Wonderful fun. And see links at the bottom of the page for other "maps that explain..."

26 April to 3 May, 2015

Maps in American Culture
The Digital Public Library of America is a platform, for which developers create apps that use the library's 9 million items in many different ways. This is one of the current exhibitions: From Colonialism to Tourism: Maps in American Culture. This exhibit explores many aspects of the cultural and historic impact of maps and mapping in America, from migration to the automobile and tourism (remember automobile road maps you could pick up for free at any service station?). While at this site, click the Exhibitions tab at the top of the page to see the other current exhibitions.

3 to 10 May, 2015

Boston Children's Museum Collections
One of the few children's museums that maintains a collection, the Boston Children's Museum has an amazing cache of materials of interest to children, and to adults. The collections available here include Americana, the Ancient World, Tourist Art, Victorian Era Toys and Games, and much more. Fascinating.

10 to 17 May, 2015

US and World Population Clocks
A service of the US Census Bureau, these two clocks keep a continuing count of the populations of the US and of the World. While the US has a net gain of one person every 15 seconds, or 4 per minute, the world population changes at an alarming rate -- around 140 per minute; the numbers fly by. Of course nobody knows the precise population of the world or the US, but the numbers here are based on official estimates and projections, and are consistent with the most recent census counts in those countries that actually do a census. This is a very useful tool.

17 to 24 May, 2015

International Data Base
Another service of the US Census Bureau, this page gives you easily customizable access to the Census Bureau's international data. First, select the type of report you're interested in, from Demographic Overview to Mortality to Population by specific groups; then select years, and a method for aggregating the data; then select countries or region. Sometimes the data isn't available, but most often, you get data presented to you in the manner you selected. Very powerful. Be sure to read the release notes, the methodology page, and the glossary.

24 to 31 May, 2015

The Scale of the Universe
An interactive "scale of the universe" that will amaze you with its simple and phenomenal presentation of very complex ideas. Zoom in and out through various images, from 10 to the 28th power all the way down to 10 to the -35th power, click on an object to get more information. And keep in mind that Cary and Michael Huang are twins from California, who created this at age 14.

31 May to 7 June, 2015

Mining Data to Fight Disease
A 5-minute video from PBS Newshour of April 24 about the work being done to mine NASA Satellite Data that has been languishing for 40 years in a vault in South Dakota. The work is being done by researchers at UCSF and at the Google Earth Engine Headquarters in Silicon Valley, combining pictures from space with on-the-ground information and linking it all through Google Maps for people on the ground to easily accss the things they need to know.

7 to 14 June, 2015

World Happiness Report
This is the annual report from the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, reporting on World Happiness. The report is downloadable here; after downloading, be sure to Google the report and look at all the links, and especially be sure to note the dueling opinions by the wise people who have written reviews.

14 to 21 June, 2015

Global Climate Change
This is NASA's "vital signs of the planet" website. It's very easy to navigate, and it is crammed full of information. Right on the top page are data on the Earth's increasing Carbon Dioxide load, increasing temperature, diminishing Arctic ice, and more. The "Facts" section presents evidence, causes, effects, and a page on the overall consensus of the scientific community. Worth visiting, and worth bookmarking.

21 to 28 June, 2015

Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
From the office of Charles and Ray Eames, this film, 2 minutes and 30 seconds in length, tells the story of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. It's clear, easily accessible to children as well as adults, and tells the story accurately. It plays twice -- once with a narration explaining what you're seeing, then once with just a musical accompaniment. You'll find the film a couple of clicks down the page below the still picture and the explanation. Very beautiful

28 June to 5 July, 2015

Women in Cartography
The Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine has an exhibit running from March to October, 2015, "celebrating 400 years of unsung contributions to the Mapping World". Sections include Women in the Early Modern Map Trades, Women and the Modern Mapping of Place, Women and Pedagogy, and Women, Cities, and Spatial Analysis. Worth a visit to learn about remarkable women from 1613 to the modern era.

5 to 12 July, 2015

Jet Propulsion Lab Graphics
A wonderful part of the JPL site is this infographics section. Get all kinds of information, and graphics to help you understand the information. Highlighted topics include facts about different planets and other objects, a section they call "Earth's Neighborhood", "Waste in Space", and many, many other topics. Great to visit often; there's so much here.

12 to 19 July, 2015

Is this the map that took Columbus to the Americas?
A recent article in Smithsonian Magazine looks at new tools used to scan a map from the 15th century -- The Martellus Map -- and the marginal notes on one particular map which seem to have been made by Columbus and his son. Read about it in this Washington Post article, and follow the links for further information.

19 to 26 July, 2015
A database of county government offices in the United States. Very easy to navigate, very intuitive, and tons of information. I've tested it on several searches and haven't found any errors yet. And it's not just county offices -- for each county, there are listings of schools, colleges, hospitals, libraries, and much more.

26 July to 2 August, 2015

Hubble Picture Gallery
A collection of Hubble images; awesome is putting it mildly; many have captions; some do not, but even so, these are just phenomenal representations of Hubble's amazing ability to view our Universe. The Gallery picture album inclues one tab for the entire collection, and then eight further tabs for particular categories, such as starts, galaxies, nebulae. There is even a tab for selecting and downloading wallpaper.

2 to 9 August, 2015

Resources for Genealogists
The US National Archives maintains this site; its aim is to help anyone interested in genealogy, and particularly those doing work on their own genealogy. The tabs and navigation are clear and intuitive, and the resources amazing. Track down ancestors, find out who you are and where you came from; there are census records, immigration records, land ownership records, and much more.

9 to 16 August, 2015

World Population History
The Population Connection hosts this remarkable site; Explore the growth of world population from 1 C.E. to 2050, either as a slowly moving video with several threads and milestones, or by selecting a time and milestone of your choice. Clicking on any of the milestones will give you details -- for example, the milestone for 1935 takes you to a page on the discovery of Kwashiorkor, a condition of advanced malnutrition due to insufficient intake of protein. Bookmark and Explore.

16 to 23 August, 2015

National Geographic Atlas Explorer
Select a region; select either a Geopolitical or a Geophysical map, and zoom in or out to investigate all the many facts and details of these maps. One of the regions, Africa, also offers a "human footprint" map. A rich and engaging site.

23 to 30 August, 2015

Unfinished London, Part 3
This wonderful YouTube series on "Unfinished London" is worth spending a lot of time with, learning all kinds of interesting things about London past and present. This particular episode, Episode 3, Part 1, is about all the airports of London -- most great cities have one big airport; London has 6. Examine why, and learn about some that have disappeared, and some that don't actually count.

30 August to 6 September, 2015

Soviet Military Topographic Maps
During the Cold War, a little-known effort by the Soviet government led to an incredible compilation of very accurate and detailed maps of Britain and the World. This is an imposing collection of those maps. The "History and Descriptions" tab explains some of the history, and the "Resources and Links" tab leads to a number of very useful archives and resources related to these and other Soviet maps.

6 to 13 September, 2015

Old Maps Online
Exactly as advertised: a gateway to historic and antique maps archived in libraries around the world. You can "Find a place" to see a large number of map references to a particular location, or you can "Browse the old maps" to see what's there, and to have some fun. There's a tool many will find helpful -- "Get Involved" -- you can add a location to any of the scanned maps, and overlay it in 3D Google Earth, or in Google Maps. A really compelling site.

13 to 20 September, 2015

Open Street Map
Called "OSM" by librarians and others who work in geography and maps, this Open Street Map is built on open data, by a community of mappers contributing all kinds of local knowledge; it's free to use for any purpose, but read the "About" page for requirements for citation for other than personal use. To see how powerful this tool is, select any city you know well, and search. Amazing detail, even on little-known or not-recently-mapped places, such as Mogadishu.

20 to 27 September, 2015

America By The Numbers
This is a good place to begin your exploration of the PBS series called "America By The Numbers", which aired a year ago. At this site, you can read about each of the episodes, learn about the resources and research involved in creating the series, and, if you wish, you can click through to the PBS site to watch any (or all) of the episodes in full. Even the splash page has some great data -- such as "2043: The year ethnic minorities will become the majority in the US, according to the US Census Bureau".

27 September to 4 October, 2015

Geography terms explained
This is Bancrofts' Pictorial Chart of Geographical Definitions, tweaked a bit by the folks at Vox. There's a friendly little explanation at the bottom of the page of some of the more confusing terms. You can see the original on the David Rumsey Map Collection site by clicking here.

4 to 11 October, 2015

Forty Maps That Explain Outer Space
Another posting from the folks at This is called 40 maps that explain outer space -- and ok, they are not ALL maps, but they are all very useful and intelligent and informative graphics. You can find our history of space exploration, space junk, the sizes of different aspects of space, early NASA flights, a map of spaceports all over the world, and much, much more. Worth a visit.

11 to 18 October, 2015

US Volcanoes and Current Alerts
The USGS maintains this site, showing Elevated, Normal, and Unassigned volcanic alerts at the present time in US territory. You can select what level of alert to see, and you can change the base map, and zoom in and out -- zooming in on an elevated alert can be very informative. For a more global view, without some of the tools, go to The Smithsonian Weekly Volcanic Activity Report.

18 to 25 October, 2015

The State of the World's Rivers
Subtitled "Mapping the Health of the World's Fifty Major River Basins", this site allows the user to examine the diversity, water quality, and fragmentation of the world's major rivers. It's eye-opening, and surprising. There are also a nnumber of resources listed, and lots of information about the parent organization, "International Rivers".

25 October to 1 November, 2015

London Transport Museum
For those who love London, London Transport, British History, poster art, and more, this site is rich and fascinating. It is the London Transport Museum Poster Collection -- with over 5000 posters to look through and enjoy. I found it fun to search by date, and see how the method behind the posters changed over time, but you can also search by artist, by theme, or even by colour. This site is great fun, and besides the posters, allows you to search among 22,000 photos, plus films and more.

1 to 8 November, 2015

American Revolutionary Era Maps
The Norman B Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library is one of the great repositories of maps; in this particular collection, they've posted maps and additional online resources related to the era 1750 to 1800. Lots of documents here, and links are being added regularly. Also be sure to check Teacher Resouces.

8 to 15 November, 2015

A great Googlemaps mashup; you get a scene somewhere in the world, and you can move about, look for clues, and try to figure out where you are. When you are ready, select the map in the lower right and click where you think you are; your score depends on how close you are to the actual place. Great fun, and now there's a "challenge" mode, where you can play against an opponent.

15 to 22 November, 2015

The Slave Trade
From Slate, an amazing 2-minute animation of the Atlantic Slave Trade; The caption says: "315 years, 20,528 voyages, millions of lives." Worth a visit, especially to discover new facts -- such as how many places outside of North America received slaves.

22 to 29 November, 2015

Metropolitan Areas
From the Brookings Institute, an extensive, thorough, and profoundly important look at metropolitan areas; as they say, "as nations rapidly urbanize, metropolitan areas are becoming hubs for innovation, productions, trade and investment... (here) Brookings experts examine how metropolitan areas are engaging in the world markets..." Select any of the key areas -- I suggest beginning with "demographics".

29 November to 6 December, 2015

Mars Science Laboratory
From the Jet Propulsion Lab, an extensive site about the exploration of Mars. There is tons of information here -- mission news, photos, video. They offer special sections for educators and for children. Definitely worth a visit; as they say on the site, "Follow Your Curiosity".

6 to 13 December, 2015

NASA's Mission to Pluto
From NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab, everything you might want to know about the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and the photos and other information gathered during its flyby. Lots of breath-taking detail here; worth spending some time.

13 to 20 December, 2015

Old Maps Online
A project started as a colloboration between organizations in Switzerland and the UK. You can "find a place" with one tab -- and it will find the place in a variety of different maps; you'll get a modern Google map, and a side bar of many maps from history of the same location. You can also just click "browse the old maps" and see all there is to see. A wonderful resource.

20 to 27 December, 2015

The Galaxy Garden
Headed for Hawai'i? This is something to see. In their words, on their website, "The Galaxy Garden is a 100-foot diameter outdoor scale model of the Milky Way, mapped in living plants and flowers and based on current astrophysical data. Artist Jon Lomberg conceived and designed the garden to encourage scientific education about our place in the Universe. The Galaxy Garden is located at the Paleaku Peace Gardens Sanctuary in Kona, Hawaii. Paleaku is a non-profit 9-acre botanical garden that facilitates educational and cultural programs.

27 December, 2015 to 3 January, 2016

Exploratorium "Snacks: Page
In case you don't know of it already, the Exploratorium is a San Francisco science museum for children, with all kinds of activities and displays and things to build and do. This "snacks" page takes you to collections of hands-on science activities to do at home or in the classrom, explorations using "common, inexpensive, readily available materials". Each "snack" has instructions, advice, and hints, and a list of materials. Pretty much everything here is great fun.

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