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Next-gen touchscreen apps are helping kids transform yesteryear’s maps into digital time-warps to Australia’s cartographic past – at an exhibition at the National Library in Canberra this summer.

The apps incorporate 3D visualisations and interactive digital story maps, which are available to young visitors via tablet devices at the once-in-a-lifetime exhibition, Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia.

The apps have been developed exclusively for the exhibition by mapping technology giant Esri Australia.

Esri Australia’s GIS in Schools expert Alicia Kouparitsas said the interactive apps would give young visitors access to the weird and wonderful histories behind the exhibits.

“The exhibition features some of the world’s oldest and rarest maps, atlases and globes from places as far flung as the Vatican in Rome and the British Library in London,” Ms Kouparitsas said.

“But we decided to drag them into the digital age to make the exhibition even more engaging for young visitors and demonstrate how exciting geography can be.

“My favourite is the Flinders’ Voyage app, which features an interactive animation of early British cartographer Matthew Flinders’ original journey around Australia.

“The Discovery of Australia Map features time-stamped maps created over centuries: from a 1663 Dutch map of New Holland – known as the ‘birth certificate of Australia’ – to maps ordered by Captain Cook himself.

“This fun app lets kids piece together the puzzle of how Australia came to take shape as it was slowly incorporated into maps of the world.”

Also on display is a giant high-tech aircraft traffic map, which plots the real-time positions of planes travelling around the world.

Ms Kouparitsas said she hoped the apps would spark a greater interest in geography amongst the kids of Australia.

“Maps have been the catalyst to some of the greatest stories and adventures in history because they have the power to guide and inspire,” Ms Kouparitsas said.

“The evolution of technology has added another dimension to maps and brought the world of geography and navigation to a new generation.

“Mapping technology is now widely used within Australian schools and the broader business community, so ensuring kids understand geography is important – and that’s what these apps are all about.”

Ms Kouparitsas said kids can complete their visit to the Library by mapping their own adventures in a digital Visitors’ Book.

“The Visitors’ Book is a place for everyone to record their thoughts and feelings about the exhibition – and show how far they have travelled to view it.

“Normally this information is just written down in a book – so making it available in the visual interactive format of a digital map means young visitors can instantly and clearly understand where people have come from to visit the Library.”

Mapping Our World: Terra Incognita to Australia will run until 10 March next year.

To find out more about the exhibit and access online versions of the mapping apps that will be on show, visit: mappingourworld.esriaustralia.com.au