Finding a Balance Between Technology and Nature

Rule of thumb: When heading to a technology conference, even things out by doing at least one thing outside and away from the technology that permeates our lives.  In my case, the conference is the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Annual Conference. And the doing something outdoors: a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, outside of Denver where the conference is taking place.

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Well, I exaggerate. I didn’t throw all technology in the trash bin and head into the Rockies empty-handed. I did bring my iPhone to take photos with and to use the National Geographic Birding app (we identified robins, gray jays, and stellar jays along with the mammalian marmots and pikas identified with the field guide we got from a park ranger).  


And I would not be a real lover of National Geographic if I didn’t
bring along my waterproof National Geographic Trails Illustrated map of
the park. These beautiful maps include detailed topographic
lines–helpful when planning and assessing which hikes you will
do–distances of trail legs, info on different types of trails, and
more. We planned a hike up to Sky Pond at about 11000 feet. What the
map didn’t show was the snow pack we’d encounter, which kept us from
getting to our final destination. Note to self: Next time bring ski
poles!

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With a Rocky Mountains adventure complete, we’re back down in Denver
and ready for the ISTE conference. National Geographic Education is
leading a workshop to introduce the 100+ workshop participants to a new
suite of mapping tools that we’ve built, which will be available to
everyone when we launch the re-designed National Geographic Education
website a few months from now.

In the workshop, we will be using the mapping tools to explore
relationships between surface elevation, climate zones, agriculture,
and precipitation patterns in Colorado. Then we’ll take participants to
India, where we’ll look at the relationships between population
density, elevation, and precipitation, as well as look at some
differences between population density in the United States and in
India, and compare this to a layer of data showing lights at night from
space. Why is it that India has a greater population density but a less
dense network of lights at night? I’ll leave you with that question,
and look out for more from me at ISTE!

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india night.png

Sean O’Connor

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