This Week in Geographic History: May 21-27

Here’s an advance look at some of the “This Day in Geographic History” (TDIGH) events coming up this week. For each date, we’ve matched it with a map or visual, background information, and a classroom activity so you can plan ahead.

Check out our Pinterest board for more related resources!

Monday, May 21

Crowds in Surrey, England, greet Charles Lindbergh after he completed his famous 1927 flight.
Photograph courtesy Corbis Corp, National Geographic

TDIGH 1927: Lindbergh Completes Transatlantic Flight

When American aviator Charles Lindbergh completed a solo transatlantic flight, he set an aviation record and was launched into celebrity status.

Maps: Take a look at Lindbergh’s navigational charts.

Background: Put “Lucky Lindy”‘s remarkable achievement in context with this terrific timeline of aviation.

Activity: Use these activities from “Aviation for Kids” to introduce students to the mechanics of flight.


Monday, May 21

In this portrait of the “princess of paleontology,” Mary Anning is not pointing to her dog, she’s pointing to an ammonite, a common fossil found along the “Jurassic Coast” she called home.
Painting by B. J. Donne, courtesy the (British) Natural History Museum

TDIGH 1799: Happy Birthday, Mary Anning

Working on Britain’s “Jurassic Coast,” Anning would acquire many nicknames, including the “princess of paleontology,” the “mother of paleontology,” and, according to the British Natural History Museum, “the greatest fossil hunter the world has ever known.”

Visual: Dig deep into the long history of the Jurassic Coast with this terrific “time spiral.”

Background: “She sells seashells by the seashore.” Watch this short video to understand the seashells Mary Anning discovered, and why she had to sell them. 

Activity: Use our activity to help students discover “Cretaceous Clues” about how Anning and other paleontologists interpret the fossils they find.


Tuesday, May 22

This beautiful Brian Skerry seascape is so dazzlingly biodiverse we don’t quite know where to look! This mangrove forest is in Belize.
Photograph by Brian J. Skerry, National Geographic

TDIGH: International Day for Biological Diversity

The UN created this day to raise awareness about protecting living organisms in ecosystems around the world.

Map: Take a look at this big, beautiful map of UNESCO’s biosphere reserves around the world.

Background: What is biodiversity?

Activity: Introduce your students to biodiversity through a bioblitz!


Saturday, May 26

This painting did not acquire its nickname, “The Vampire” until years after it was completed.
Painting by Edvard Munch, courtesy the Munch Museum and Wikimedia

TDIGH 1897: Dracula Published

The novel, written as a series of letters and journal entries, was only moderately popular in Stoker’s lifetime. Today, Dracula is considered the definitive vampire novel.

Map: Characters in Dracula travel throughout Europe. Use this terrific map to navigate the novel.

Background: Bram Stoker was inspired by historical figures, mythic creatures, and the landscape of Romania. Here’s a fun list that ranks the top twelve influences on Dracula.

Activity: Watch this Thug Notes video for a spectacular summary and analysis of Dracula—why it was an important book in the 19th century, and why it’s important now.


Sunday, May 27

Fees to cross the Golden Gate Bridge today vary by the number of axles per vehicle, but range from about $5 to about $8.
Illustration courtesy the California Historical Society

TDIGH 1937: Golden Gate Bridge Opens

California’s iconic bridge was the world’s longest suspension bridge when it opened.

Visual: Take a look at this dizzying view of the bridge from one of its towers—imagine how cold and windy it is up there! Use our Q&A format to appreciate how the bridge is painted.

Background: Browse this gallery of the bridge under construction, and put it in context with this brief history, including a diagram comparing bridge sizes

Activity: Use this resource to help students build popsicle bridges, or take it easy and just download and color our Golden Gate Bridge coloring page.

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