Mapping at Walker Technology College

Yesterday (Wednesday 30th October) we did some mapping work at Walker Technology College. Miss Marley (a graduate of our BSc Geography degree) invited us into one of her year eight classes. We introduced ourselves and the Juice Festival, before showing the pupils the power of maps and map makers – remember, a cartographer has the ability to make mountain ranges, cities, and entire populations disappear from a map, simply by not including them.

With this in mind, we asked the class to consider what was important enough in their lives to include on a map of their world, and what didn’t need to be seen. It took them a while to get the idea that they had the power and permission to draw whatever they wanted, but once they got started stories about their lives started to appear.

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We suggested they might want to include online places they value, and as you can see from the picture above some did. One boy, however, exclaimed he’d like to “…but, i don’t know where Facebook lives!”.

We were running out of time (i have no idea how teachers manage kids this age all day everyday!) for the second task so simplified it slightly. Instead of asking the class to annotate maps of the local area, we gave them dark pens (blacks, purples and browns) to erase areas unimportant to them, and light pens (yellows, reds, oranges) to highlight special places. Frenzied activity ensued as groups scribbled all over Walker, Byker and High Heaton, making the map their own.

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Schools were almost entirely eradicated, golf courses were deleted, and one group decided to remove any trace of Gateshead! The Tyne was important for most, along with the streets they live and grew up on. Parks and other places to hang out were highlighted brightly. It was fascinating to watch and learn about their city.

Next week we’re back with artists Jessica Dolby and Ben Jones to do more work. Can’t wait!

More: see what we got up to at the Royal Grammar School

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