HomeTownLocator: Gazetteer

Name:HomeTownLocator: Gazetteer

Brief Description of the Site:
Before there was the Web there were reference books, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, atlases, and — gazetteers, or geographical dictionaries. The Web, and more specifically its hyperlinking capabilities, has made the electronic version of these tools even more powerful than their paper counterparts. This site is proof. It offers the means to search for any of 177,000 “populated places†(cities, towns, villages, or neighborhoods) in the U.S. and territories. It also offers U.S. Census Data for counties, cities, towns, villages, and zip codes. Then there is the weather lookup for any of 6,000 airports in 213 countries and a distance finder, which will give the straight-line mileage between any two places in the U.S. A fun (or, for the paranoid, scary) part of the site is its ability to provide an aerial photo of one’s house on one’s street.

How to use the site:
The Census Data is invaluable for students compiling reports in which they compare/contrast places and use the data to either confirm other data or to make informed predictions. Another “fun†project would be to have students randomly pick a small town from a state or regional map, enter that town’s name into the search box, and bring up the list of all towns with the same name (there were over 100 entries for “Spring Valleyâ€) and then select two or more for deeper research, comparison/contrast, etc. The site offers aerial maps (photo quality) plus regional and local maps of the MapQuest variety. A third fun project would be to do an “International Weather Report†for a group of cities (Paris, Beijing, Rio, etc.) to confirm information gathered in various lessons about geography and weather. There would also be a math component, as students would have to convert the Celsius readings to the more familiar Fahrenheit. There are many more possibilities at this interesting site.