EARTH in MAPS
Geography is an old science. Ancient travelers from all continents and cultures brought
home descriptions of faraway places, their people, and the natural environment. This new knowledge
formed a basis for understanding the wider world and fundamental principles of nature. The word
geography, in fact, derives from Greek roots meaning "
to write about the Earth
In this class, we will continue that ancient tradition of exploration and discovery, covering many of the
same subjects as those early seekers of knowledge, albeit with vastly greater information available to
us. We start with a dimensional look at our home planet.
What do geographers study and what is unique to their study?
What are the two main branches of Geography?
What is the focus of each of these branches?
Give examples of phenomena that could be studied using a geographic focus, and explain what the
geography component would be.
Did anyone ever ask you where something was or how to get to a place? How did you answer? What
reference points did you use? Did you tell them it was near something? Or perhaps use either compass points
or local directions, like "Well, go mauka about two blocks .
..." In answering, you were displaying your
knowledge of local geography and struggling with one of the oldest mental challenges in science: how to
describe where something is.
That challenge forms the basis of the science called geography, which today describes
where things are
then goes on to explain
why they are there
. A fuller introduction is given below.
"Geography is the science of place and space. Geographers ask where things are located on the
surface of the earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another, and
how people interact with the environment.
"There are two main branches of geography: human geography and physical geography. Human
geography is concerned with the spatial aspects of human existence - how people and their activity
are distributed in space, how they use and perceive space, and how they create and sustain the
places that make up the earth's surface. Human geographers work in the fields of urban and
regional planning, transportation, marketing, real estate, tourism, and international business.
"Physical geographers study patterns of climates, land forms, vegetation, soils, and water. They
forecast the weather, manage land and water resources, and analyze and plan for forests,