December 12, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Global Issues, Digital Perspectives

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Image from ‘Atlas by Collins’

A number of apps address the state of our planet. One of the first produced for students was Al Gore’s award-winning Our Choice (Melcher Media/Push Pop Press; $4.99), featuring stunning photography, informative video clips, and a compelling message about global warming. In 7 Billion: How Your World Will Change (National Geographic; $4.99) thought-provoking photos, videos, charts, and articles examine the impact of population growth on the earth, including commentary on food sources, family size, and the most challenged regions of the world. Fragile Earth, one of SLJ’s Top 10 Apps of 2012, offers a gallery of photos detailing the impact of human endeavors and natural phenomena on the environment. Satellite and land photographs, taken from minutes to years apart, depict the alarming before-and-after effects of mining, deforestation, tsunamis, earthquakes, and other events on our landscape.

The recently released Atlas by Collins takes a look at our planet from a number of perspectives. Cathy Potter reviews it below.


Chart, “Energy Consumption,” from ‘Atlas by Collins’

Gr 6 Up-The expansive Atlas by Collins contains seven globes: satellite, physical, political, population, environment, communications, and energy. For each thematic section text and illustrations combine to provide an overview of the subject.

“Living Earth” explores the natural world and a variety of landscapes, as well as changes in and threats to the planet, among other topics. “People and Power” considers where energy reserves are located, where energy is produced and consumed, how technology connects the world, and more. These and other subjects are addressed through questions (“What are the major environmental threats to our planet and the areas most affected? “What energy reserves does each country contain?” “Where in the world can you get mobile phone coverage?) and detailed answers are provided along with captioned photos, charts, and graphs (sources cited).

Viewers swipe to spin the 3-D globes; pinch and pull to zoom in and out. While zooming in the globe will switch to Google Maps, but an Internet connection is required to take advantage of this feature. A location bar at the top of each screen marks the city and country or region displayed. A tap on the information symbol opens a window that reveals country statistics and information on the nation’s land, climate, economy, demographics, and transportation, and a few images–information that will be useful to student researchers. Each entry also includes links to the country’s web site.

Menus below each globe provide readers with a plethora of information about our planet including birth rates, pollution hotspots, and Internet usage. Color-coded keys and symbols help readers interpret the information presented. (The app contains no narration or sound effects.)

The satellite globe is the only one that downloads when users purchase the app. The others must be installed individually, and the amount of time required to do so is considerable. While the breadth of information in Atlas by Collins is impressive, the download time, tendency to shut down, and substantial amount of storage space required (1.3 GB) may prove problematic for some users.—Cathy Potter, Falmouth Elementary School, Falmouth, ME

Eds. note: For a look inside Atlas by Collins take a peek at the trailer.

Daryl Grabarek About Daryl Grabarek

Daryl Grabarek is the editor of School Library Journal's monthly enewsletter, Curriculum Connections, and its online column Touch and Go. Before coming to SLJ, she held librarian positions in private, school, public, and college libraries. Her dream is to manage a collection on a remote island in the South Pacific.

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