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Idea 4 - So who was Herr Brandt and did he get his line right?

This project idea was contributed by Jeff Stanfield

Investigation of differing levels of development across the globe are required within the new specifications for GCSE geography. For example:

Exam Board Components that this project links with
AQA A Unit 2, Section A: Population change and Section B: The development gap
AQA B Unit 3, Section A: Investigating the Shrinking World
Edexcel A Unit 1, Section A: General Skills
Unit 3, Section A: The Human World
Edexcel B Unit 2, Section A: Population Dynamics
Unit 2, Section C: Development Dilemmas
OCR A Unit A673: Similarities and differences between places
OCR B Theme 2: Population and settlement
Theme 4: Economic development
WJEC B Theme 3: People, Work and Development

Setting the scene

In this activity, which uses older, readily accessible as well as newer digital learning resources, students are required to make personal decisions on how best to divide the globe by levels of development for example between Less and More Economically Developed Countries. (now often referred to as LICs, Low-Income Countries and HICs, High-Income Countries).

There are many websites that give detailed demographic/socio–economic country profiles. These can be searched for in a structured way. Part of the learning process should include the development of critiques detailing the depth, appropriateness and reliability of the databases being searched.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau Source: U.S. Census Bureau

One of the most detailed international data bases is provided by the U.S. Census Bureau This site includes up to date data sets for all countries of the world as well as graphical representations of trends. In the table to the right for example, demographic indicators for Namibia are shown with 2008 data given alongside projections for 2015 and 2025. Click on the image to access the full table.

Of course, through the process of independent research students may wish to develop very personalised division categories; radical new divisions of their globe. Similarly if HDIs are used, they may well wish to step aside from tradition and use their own indicator aggregations.

The ease of collecting and saving information from this site makes preparatory work quick and simple for both staff and students. Take for example, these comparative population pyramids for UK and Namibia below. Click the image to obtain your own population pyramids.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

In addition, there are a range of free thematic maps displaying levels of development for specific indicators or groups of indicators. For instance, Worldmapper has an interesting range of maps, a site well worth exploring. The site provides a good opportunity of analysing in detail maps drawn in a more appropriate proportion to those developed on more traditional thematic projections. For example, compare these two images below. The left hand image is from Worldmapper, whilst that on the right hand side can be found on Wikipedia Commons. Note immediately the variation in display of highest infant mortality rates.

Sources: Worldmapper (left) and Wikipedia Commons (right) Sources: Worldmapper (left) and Wikipedia Commons (right)

From working with students of a range of abilities it has become evident that many middle and lower ability students do find the proportional maps more difficult to interpret in detail than those developed on more traditional projections.

Key Geography Objectives

  • To interrogate global demographic, socio-economic data and graphical representations of this data
  • To recognise, describe and explain patterns within this data across the world
  • To use the information collected in deciding how to split the world into LICs and HICs
  • To account for and justify this sub division of the world.

Key ICT Objectives

  • To collect geographical information from data bases and mapping packages found on the internet
  • To develop maps using appropriate techniques
  • To create a simple spreadsheet and create graphs form the data logged to justify global sub-division
  • To communicate findings electronically.

Running the Activity

Starter activity: Use of the U.S. Census Bureau website to compare information on two countries with very different levels of development. For example the UK v Namibia. Alternatively, choose two countries highlighted in the news on the day of the session. In either case, remember to use electronic atlases to place places chosen.

Explore this site with the students using the whiteboard to model the search process. The modelling process can also, if required, introduce different mapping sites and projections used to create thematic indicator maps. This may well be a revisiting and expanding of work undertaken in Key Stage 3.

Plenary session: Students are requested to put forward their division of the world into HICs and LICs and to account for their sub-divisions. Selected students mark their dividing lines onto a world map displayed on the interactive whiteboard and explain the reasons behind their choice, using appropriate evidence. The overlays can be annotated, saved and printed off.

At the end of the session introduce Herr Brandt and the work that he undertook in devising his North-South divide. His line can be plotted over those of the students with significant anomalies being explored. Who is correct? Did Herr Brandt get it right? How might the line change by 2025 or 2050? Introducing famous geographers to students at every conceivable opportunity, for example, Adams, Abercrombie, Beckham, Chico Mendes and Burgess etc., helps to show the importance of geography and to strengthen its status.

The Brandt Line decision making activity leads to a justification session, with students developing their own maps, spreadsheets and graphs to show the correlations between countries within their subdivisions.

Modifying the activity for different levels of ability

This project can be approached progressively, depending on the students' familiarity with ICT, in the following manner:

Beginning with ICT: Use the U.S. Census Bureau website, together with maps from Worldmapper and Wikimedia Commons to undertake a simple division of the world into LICs and HICs.

More advanced: Use of digital learning resources, as above, to explore divisions of the globe by level of development. Use of interactive white board to collate and display findings. Generation of spreadsheet and associated graphs to justify divisions by level of development.

Advanced: Use of electronic mapping packages to produce personalised maps and more sophisticated GIS and graphical representations etc. to communicate findings on sub-divisions of our world by level of development.


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