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ter plot has been created from the census
comparing the population ages twenty-five
to thirty-four against the African-American
The reader will notice that the
correlation is relatively low: .7982. When a
scatter plot shows an association between
two variables, a cause-and-effect relation-
ship is not necessarily the answer. Both
variables could be related to some third
variable that explains the graph. There
could well be some other factor. What do
we learn? A majority of states lie below
the correlation line. Comprising 14.7% of
the total population, twenty-five- to thirty-
four-year-old African Americans are dis-
persed unevenly across the country, with
few large concentrations outside major cit- Figure 5
ies and some states in the South.
The term “buffer” is used for a wide
variety of scientific, computer, and mathe-
matics applications. In gIS, it can function
as a range setting for map features within
a specific constraining descriptor. For
example, if we wanted to know the statisti-
cal data for cities located within ten miles
of the Columbia river, the resulting map
would look like Figure 6, which is set to a
Washington South projection, as the river
forms most of the border between Wash-
ington and Oregon. The region is a major
agricultural center that has developed a
thriving Hispanic community. The soft-
ware identifies seventeen cities, and a his-
Figure 6
togram/statistics table has been created to
show the distribution of residents in those confidently play a powerful role in promoting
Steven Branting’s work in
cities, with the largest Hispanic population spatial thinking.
Unfortunately, spatial educa- archaeology, geography,
living in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, tion has proven to be a uniformly neglected topic
engineering, and history has
Washington, metropolitan area. in America’s schools, much as is creative prob-
been honored by The History
In 2006 a report from the National lem-solving.
gIS has forged the connections;
Channel, the Association
of American Geographers,
research Council stressed the importance its architects have fashioned the tools. “Those
the Society for American
of spatial thinking in everyone’s life and who say it can’t be done,” wrote novelist James Archaeology, and the Ameri-
recommended embedding spatial thinking Baldwin, “are usually interrupted by those doing
can Association for State
across the K–12 curriculum. According to it.” Schools embracing gIS have honed their axes
and Local History. His arti-
the Council’s findings, gIS technology can and are setting to work. !
cle, “Not Your Father’s His-
tory Lesson: Idaho Students
Solve a Necrogeographic
Mystery” (Western His-
1. Images in this article were created using My World, 3. roper Public Affairs, “National geographic-roper
torical Review, XXXVIII, 2,
developed by Northwestern University specifically Public Affairs 2006 Literacy Study” (Washington, DC:
Summer 2007, pp. 205–214),
for middle school classrooms. ArcView 9.3 (eSrI) is National geographic education Foundation, 2006), has been nominated for the
recommended for high school settings, as it provides American Historical Asso-
a school-to-work link with the gIS professional com- .html.
ciation’s William Gilbert
4. Daniel L. Shea, David Lubinski, and Camilla P. Ben- Award. Mr. Branting retired
2. U.S. Census Bureau, “Facts for Features: Black His- fow, “Importance of Assessing Spatial Ability in Tal- in 2009 after 33 years as
tory Month, February 2009,” ented young Adolescents: a 20-year Longitudinal Study,”
a consultant for gifted and
Press-release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_ Journal of Educational Psychology, 93 (3), 604-614.
innovative programs.
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