Incorporating STEM and Geography

Incorporating STEM and Geography

Most people tend to lump geography in with history, but categorically, geography is actually a science: the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Research proves that kids learn more effectively when subjects are blended together instead of separately taught.

Countries, states, and cities may often be forgotten unless there is an interesting tie-in to help your child remember the location and importance. I have an affection for anything involving maps and globes. I think this stems from the genealogist in me. Township, city, county, state, country maps… they all fascinate me. I look at a map and start to wonder about the deep history of the land, how it once looked, and why the original settlers chose to live in the exact spots they settled in.

Because of this, I have always strived to pass this love onto my son, so I try to incorporate geography into every subject possible. One of the most obvious ways you can incorporate geography into the broader subject of science is to plot scientists on a map.

WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press is my go-to map program. While we do have large laminated maps in our house, sometimes I prefer smaller printable maps instead.

  • Each map can have its own theme.
  • Each map can be colored or written on.
  • Each map can be placed into a binder to move around at will.
  • Each map can be saved indefinitely.
  • You don’t have to worry about overcrowding, you can just print a new map and call it part two.
  • With WonderMaps, you can choose to print place names, rivers, and borders.
  • WonderMaps also gives you the option to choose a modern map or a historical map.

There are just simply more choices! And choice is always good when it comes to education. 

In your daily curriculum, you are likely to frequently come across scientists, inventors, and other men and women who have worked in STEM fields. Stop and take a few moments to look up that person on Wikipedia, print out the person’s photo, and add it to a printed map.

After plotting your scientist on your map, be sure to open WonderMaps again to compare the scientist’s birthplace then to now. Things can drastically change over time. Like in the case of Gregor Mendel…he was born in Austria in 1822, but if he was born in 2016, his birthplace would be the Czech Republic. That is one of my favorite features – the modern overlay of historic maps.

Incorporating STEM and Geography

To get you started with your scientific geography adventure, I’ve created a printable full of well-known scientists throughout history. This printable contains their photo, name, and birthplace. The images are small enough to place on a map. Here is a list of who is included:

Influential Scientists From Around the World (384 BC – 1889)

  1. Aristotle 384 BC, Chalkidiki, Greece
  2. Archimedes 287 BC, Sicily, Italy
  3. Zhang Heng 78, Nanyang, China
  4. Hypatia 350, Egypt
  5. Su Song 1020, Quanzhou, China
  6. Abraham bar Hiyya 1070, Barcelona, Spain
  7. Abraham Zacuto 1452, Salamanca, Spain
  8. Leonardo da Vinci 1452, Florence, Italy
  9. Galileo Galilei 1564, Pisa, Italy
  10. Johannes Kepler 1571, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  11. Blaise Pascal 1623, France
  12. Robert Boyle 1627, Waterford, Ireland
  13. Sir Isaac Newton 1642, Lincolnshire, England
  14. Benjamin Franklin 1706, Massachusetts
  15. Mikhail Lomonosov 1711, Russia
  16. Alessandro Volta 1745, Milan, Italy
  17. Michael Faraday 1791, London, England
  18. Gregor Mendel 1822, Czech Republic
  19. Louis Pasteur 1822, Dole, France
  20. James Clerk Maxwell 1831, Edinburgh, Scotland
  21. Alfred Nobel 1833, Sweden
  22. Carlos Juan Finlay 1833, Cuba
  23. Dmitri Mendeleev 1834, Russia
  24. Vasily Dokuchaev 1846, Russia
  25. Thomas Edison 1847, Ohio
  26. Nikola Tesla 1856, Croatia
  27. Jagadish Chandra Bose 1858, Bangladesh, India
  28. George Washington Carver 1864, Missouri
  29. Marie Curie 1867, Warsaw, Poland
  30. Lord Ernest Rutherford 1871, New Zealand
  31. Oswaldo Cruz 1872, Brazil
  32. Wilfrid Derome 1877, Quebec, Canada
  33. Albert Einstein 1879, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  34. Edwin Hubble 1889, Missouri

To show you what we frequently do, I’ll use scientist Su Song. He was born in the year 1020 in Quanzhou, China. WonderMaps has a feature that lists maps by historical period. Scroll down the years until you reach a time close to Su Song’s birth year. You can see that he was born during the Song Dynasty, which is just a coincidence since it was a very common surname.


From this map, with all its features turned on, you can see that Quanzhou was a seaside city.



*Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.

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