Geo Lists for the Classroom


I really like an interesting ‘geo – list’, always good value for Lesson starters, class questions, and content for schemes of work. Here are a couple of gems I have come across recently.

Firstly, is a list of the countries with the fastest GDP growth in 2019 (assembled by the IMF and presented in the Spectator Index. Interesting how many come from the continents of Africa and Asia:

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Second up is a list of the world’s most polluted cities in 2018 from World Index. Would students guess how many cities are found in India? It certainly surprised me!

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‘What Three Words’ in the News

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I came across an interesting article in my newspaper recently about ‘What 3 Words’, a location referencing system I first wrote about back in December, 2016 –

‘What 3 Words’ allows you to locate specific points on a map. It consists of a giant grid of the world made up of 57 trillion squares of 3 metres x 3 metres. Each square has been given a unique 3 word address comprised of 3 words from the dictionary. It’s far more accurate than a postal address and it’s much easier to remember, use & share than a set of GPS co-ordinates.


Image – Daily Telegraph

Each square’s address contains totally different words to its nearby squares – an example might be: Each w3w shortlink uses the w3w address in the link, such as: This can be embedded in a web site or blog, or e-mailed to a friend. By clicking on the link, you are taken to the specified location on a map on the w3w website.


Image – Daily Telegraph

You can log on to the What 3 Words web site, and check out the three word address for your own home, school, or chosen location:

Here is a What 3 Words code for my old school:

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untitledWhat 3 Words also has a map app which allows you find out the 3 word reference for any location, as well use a 3 word code to easily navigate to a specific place.


ScreenHunter_03 Apr. 09 11.28There is also a photo app, which will add the What 3 Words reference of the location to any photograph taken with it.



What 3 Words has now also started to make signs for both outdoors and indoors to show the location of a place. You might want to get one made up for your home location or perhaps even your school.

Here is one for my old school:

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The newspaper article described how motorist Valerie Hackett found herself stranded after driving her car into a ditch, and with absolutely no idea where she was. She called the police, but as she could not be seen from the road she was unable to direct them to the scene.

It was then that the What 3 Words geocoding system came into its own. Ms Hawkett initially tried to send police her location via Google Maps on her smartphone, but once they texted her the web address for What 3 Words, she was able to provide them with the 3 word code “weekend, foggy, earphones” which led officers straight to her location – a field on the A36 near Norton St Philip in Somerset. Avon and Somerset Police was among the first in the UK to pilot the technology last year and Ms Hawkett, 33, and her daughter are believed to be the first to be rescued with it.
Two other police forces, Humberside and West Yorkshire, also use the system, as does the British Transport Police and three fire services – Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Thousands of other organisations have also adopted the technology, including the UN – which uses it for disaster relief. It is also used by Mercedes-Benz, which recently launched the world’s first car with built-in What3Words voice navigation, and only today, I saw an advert from Ford explaining that drivers of their cars are now able to use the system to enter destinations by voice. Domino’s Pizza are also making use of What 3 Words, and anyone can benefit from the system by locating people they are looking for in crowded places like sport stadiums or pop festivals.


Image – Ford

The technology was the brainchild of British entrepreneur Chris Sheldrick, who says it is more specific than postcodes and simpler than GPS coordinates. Mr Sheldrick and his friend Jack Waley-Cohen, a mathematician, who met when they both played chess at Eton, came up with the idea in 2013 and spent a year developing the product. They ensure that words with two different ­spellings and profanities are carefully screened out. A pool of 38,500 words is sufficient to provide all the three-word combinations required.

Poor addressing costs businesses billions of dollars, and around the world it hampers the growth and development of nations, ultimately costing lives. The founders of this new method of geo-location claim that around 75% of the world suffers from inconsistent, complicated and poor addressing systems. This means that around 4 Billion people are invisible; unable to report crime, get deliveries, aid or simply have a name for where they live. It is their intention to give everyone in the world the ability to talk about a precise location as easily as possible. It is their mission to be the world’s address system; the universal standard for communicating location.

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High Street Branding for the Classroom

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Photo: Daily Telegraph

A recent report from the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has urged towns to brand themselves with a unique selling point in order to fight back against the growing trend for online shopping.

The report warns of a future for high streets that is “increasingly bleak”, with many turning into ghost towns – in an age where £1 in every £5 spent in shops is now taken online.

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Photograph: Daily Telegraph

Towns which have developed successful local brands include:
o Altrincham which has branded itself as a ‘modern market town’
o Malton – ‘Yorkshire’s Food Capital’
o Bletchley – ‘Home of the Codebreakers’ (following its connection with Alan Turing)
o Dufftown (Scotland) – ‘The Malt Whisky Capital’
o Crewe – ‘Home of Ice Cream Vans’ (an ice cream van manufacturer is based there)

My home town has branded itself as ‘The Gateway to Exmoor’ in order to try to attract some of the many tourists who visit the area.


Photograph: Daily Telegraph

The report also warned that if high streets are to survive the digital shopping era, retailers must accept that they need to adapt and do more to offer what online cannot, focusing more on personal interactions and convenience. High streets need to change, innovate, and reconfigure to find new ways of using buildings and encourage new independent traders.

So what about your town’s high street? There might be a geography opportunity here to carry out some local fieldwork by mapping building functions, vacant properties etc., and also collecting data from questionnaires and surveys, before then considering back in the classroom how the local town could be branded. It could involve the creation of a promotion campaign, including different presentations and films – perhaps to present to local councillors.

Let me know how you get on!

Source article:

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Developing Countries Lead the Way in Renewable Energy Development


Photo: Wikimedia

A decade ago, it was the world’s wealthiest countries that accounted for the bulk of investment in renewable energy. However, since then, developing nations are today leading the way in a world where electricity demand increases while technology costs fall. The locus of clean energy activity had shifted noticeably from “North” to “South”, from OECD to non-OECD countries.

A recent report ‘Climatescope’ – produced by energy researchers Bloomberg NEE – has studied 80 indicators such as clean energy policies, emissions, and installed capacities for 103 different countries, and ranked their findings. The results show that developing nations are now driving the world’s slow shift towards a cleaner-powered future.

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India’s second position represents a climb of three spots from the 5th position it held last year. In comparison, China ranked 7th, down from the top position last year.

The Indian government  has set an ambitious goal of reaching 175GW of clean energy generation by March 2022. Clean energy investments, mostly related to solar power projects, added up to $7.4 billion in the first half of 2018, the report said.

Although renewable energy installations surpassed those by coal power plants for the first time in 2017, India does still depend on coal for three quarters of its energy requirements. China, India, Indonesia, and South Africa account for 86% of coal-fired plants currently under construction in developing nations.

The report highlights:

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Source article (which includes link to PDF of full report):

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China and India to Overtake the USA Economy?


Photo: World Bank

According to the UK multinational bank Standard Chartered, China is likely to become the world’s largest economy by 2020, with India overtaking the USA and moving into second place by 2030.

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In its report, the UK bank suggests that: “India will likely be the main mover, with its trend growth accelerating to 7.8% by the 2020s” . It recognizes that ageing populations are likely to weigh on global growth, but India, home to the world’s largest group of young people, will remain unfazed. Half of the country’s population is under the age of 25.

However, a young demographic also creates a demand for massive employment. The report suggests that to achieve this, about 100 million new jobs must be created in the manufacturing and service sectors by 2030. This can be done through closing a widening skills gap, raising the participation of women in the workforce, and easing labour laws. New spending will also be required to improve infrastructure and reduce the growing economic inequality in the country.

Source article:

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Infographics For The Classroom

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I have recently put myself on the mailing list from a statistics web site:

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It now sends me a regular supply of excellent infographics to enjoy – including some great geographical ones, useful to illustrate presentations or act as stand-alone classroom resources.

Here are some recent examples I have saved for future use:

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New Sea Wall For Dawlish Railway Line


Photo: Wikimedia

At the start of this week, Network Rail submitted plans to Teignbridge District Council for improved sea wall defences at Dawlish.

This is part of the South West Rail Resilience Programme, designed as a long term solution to storm damage that has been an increasingly frequent problem at this location for the coastal railway that links Devon and Cornwall to the rest of the UK.


Back in 2014, high waves, strong winds, and flooding caused the line to be completely washed away here, cutting off the region from the rest of the country for eight weeks. Network Rail engineers managed to reopen the line through a controlled landslip and the addition of more than 6,000 tonnes of concrete.

Network Rail has since undertaken a series of detailed studies which concluded that maintaining the current coastal railway route through Dawlish was the most feasible and cost effective solution – despite some local calling for a new line diverted inland.


Work back in November has already repaired breakwaters as part of the defense scheme against the sea, and the proposed future plan is centred on the construction of a new, higher sea wall at Dawlish to protect the rail line. This should provide far more protection from waves and extreme weather, and is future-proofed to protect both the railway and the town, taking into account predicted rising sea levels. The local community will also benefit from a wider, safer promenade which retains the views of the coast.

These renderings of possible future views of Dawlish are shown on the National Rail web site:

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The proposed plans are now subject to the views of the Teignbridge District Council council, who will now be able to formally consult the local community on the proposed designs. The outcome of the council’s findings will help inform the government’s decision on the next steps for the South West Rail Resilience Programme.


Photo: Daily Mail

Useful links:

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