AP Human Geography Growth Noted

A lengthy article in Education Week reports on the dramatic growth trajectory of the AP Human Geography exam.

Geography may not be particularly known as a hot topic among today’s students—even some advocates suggest it suffers from an image problem—but by at least one measure, the subject is starting to come into its own.

Across more than 30 topics covered in the Advanced Placement program, participation in geography is rising faster than any other. It’s joined by AP courses like Chinese, environmental science, psychology, and world history that have been gaining ground most rapidly in recent years.

The article goes on to explore possible explanations for geography’s growing popularity, with quotes from Daniel Edelson, National Geographic’s vice president for education.

“It reflects the interest in the subject and the fact that there is still a lot of room to grow across the country,” he said. “I don’t know if anybody has a projection for how long it will continue at this pace, but we’re nowhere near saturation.”

Advanced Placement (AP), a program of the College Board, provides an opportunity for high school students to earn college credit by taking challenging courses that are equivalent to those offered at the college level. The 2011 geography exam included 75 multiple-choice questions and three free-response essays. Students in the class of 2011 took more than 45,000 AP Human Geography exams, according to data from the College Board. The geography exam was first administered in May 2001 to 3,293 students.

More on this topic:

8th Annual AP Report to the Nation from the College Board
Human Geography Subject Supplement
from the College Board
AP Human Geography Course Home Page from the College Board
AP Human Geography resources
at the NCGE website

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What Happened to the NC-SC Boundary?

You would not think that a boundary between two states could get lost, but that is what happened to the line separating North and South Carolina. When residents, tax collectors, and others wanted to know the precise location of the boundary, no one had an answer. According to “New SC-NC Border Will Affect Some Residents” in The State,

South Carolina and North Carolina have been working quietly since 1994 on resurveying their border. To avoid having to get congressional approval of the border, which would cost more, the states had to retrace their original boundary from the 1700s.

Researchers searched for clues in state archives and country courthouses. In some border areas, stone monuments—many of which have been rediscovered—marked the boundary. In other stretches, the 18th-century surveyors marked the boundary on trees that were cut down or died long ago. Eighteen years and $980,000 later, the survey process is nearing completion, according to The State article. A few border residents may find themselves in a new state, which would bring new addresses, phone numbers, driver’s licenses, tax rates, and even utility companies.

National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday had a little fun by pointing out a culinary dilemma for Carolinians who find themselves on the wrong side of the border.

For residents and state officials, that’s meant headaches like who pays which state’s taxes, and which children go to which school districts and what kind of sauce will be on my barbecue? North Carolinians are known to turn up their noses at a plate of South Carolina’s mustard-based barbecue. And South Carolinians are equally disdainful of the vinegar sauce touted by their northern neighbors.

International boundaries, especially when they are disputed, receive a lot of attention in political geography. This story demonstrates that even state and local boundaries bring about important cultural, political, and economic implications.

—Tim Hill

A Geography Puzzle

For you puzzle fans, here’s a geography challenge of sorts from Puzzlemaster Will Shortz on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday:

The word “marten,” as in the animal, consists of the beginning letters of “Mississippi,” “Arkansas,” “Texas,” and “New Mexico”; you can actually drive from Mississippi to Arkansas to Texas to New Mexico in that order. What is the longest common English word you can spell by taking the beginning letters of consecutive states in order as you travel through them? Puzzlemaster Will Shortz’s answer has eight letters, but maybe you can top that.

If you want to submit an answer and perhaps win a chance to play the on-air puzzle, you can submit your answer online. The deadline for this puzzle is Thursday, February 23, 2012, at 3:00 p.m. Eastern.

Get out that U.S. map and start spelling!

Geography Video Contest Winners

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) has announced the winning entries in its “Geography Matters” video contest. The contest, an event leading up to AAG’s Annual Meeting in New York City, asked entrants to make a video highlighting “the difference that geography has made in your life, your career, your community, the world.”

Kieran O’Mahony’s video “Geography Matters: Today More than Ever” won first place. He won $250, complimentary AAG Annual Meeting registration, and a free one-year AAG membership.

NCGE Past President Joseph Kerski won honorable mention for his video “Geography Matters.” For the complete list of winning entries and links to the videos, visit the AAG Video Competition webpage. Congratulations to all of the winners who are spreading the word that, yes, geography does matter!

Summer Travel Opportunities for Educators

Global Exploration for Educators Organization (GEEO), a non-profit organization that designs professional development travel programs for educators, is offering several travel opportunities during the summer of 2012. Destinations are India/Nepal, Vietnam, Thailand/Laos/Cambodia, China, Russia/Mongolia/China, Egypt, Turkey (8 days), Turkey (15 days), South Africa/Mozambique/Zimbabwe/Botswana, Morocco, Argentina/Uruguay/Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands, and Costa Rica. The trips are 8 to 24 days in length. Three hours of graduate school credit are available through Indiana University. Detailed information about each trip, including itineraries, costs, travel dates, and more can be found at the GEEO website.