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Looking at Earth: Seeing Africa from Above

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Geography +2 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Primary (5 to 8 years old)
Throughout history we have sought to better understand our world by viewing it from above. We first climbed trees, hills and fortress towers to observe the lay of the land. Today, aircraft and spacecraft look down on Earth to predict the weather, survey the terrain, monitor crops and forests, plan cities, locate resources, and gather intelligence.

This teachers guide and student activity includes an online exhibition, Looking at Earth, with background information on aerial imagery and aerial photographs of towns and cities in Africa. Divide students into small groups and ask each group to examine a different photograph responding to the following statements or questions: 1) Describe the physical (natural) features in the photograph. 2) Describe the human-made characteristics. 3) Identify the ways in which people use the land. 4) Do the streets form a grid or some other pattern? 5) Identify regions within the photograph defined by the ways in which the land is used (residential, commercial, industrial, recreational, transportation).

Ask each group to share their findings with the entire class. Discuss how the African towns and cities are different and the role of geography in defining a place. Locate the different towns and cities on a map of Africa.

Looking at Earth

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Aerial view of the city, Goundam, Mali, [slide]

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives

Aerial view of the city, Goundam, Mali, [slide]

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives

Aerial view of the old town, Kano, Nigeria. [slide]

Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives