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New Wyoming Student Atlas Delivered to Wyoming Schools

November 6, 2014
book cover featuring the Teton mountains
More than 100 full-color maps -- along with numerous photographs, charts and tables -- are featured in the new “Wyoming Student Atlas.”

The University of Wyoming has created and printed 5,000 copies of a new “Wyoming Student Atlas” that is being distributed to all Wyoming school districts.

Produced by three UW programs -- the Department of Geography, the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center (WyGISC) and the Wyoming Geographic Alliance -- the soft-cover, 55-page atlas contains more than 100 full-color maps along with numerous photographs, charts and tables. It is being distributed to school libraries and to elementary and junior high classrooms that teach geography as part of their curricula. County libraries and their branches also will be offered copies.

“Even in the age of Google Earth, everyone still loves a good map that you can hold in your hands,” says Jeff Hamerlinck, WyGISC director who co-edited the publication with Gerald Webster, UW Department of Geography chair. “We wanted to create something that would both build students’ spatial literacy and get them excited about the physical and human geography of our fascinating state.”

WyGISC research scientist Margo Berendsen served as lead cartographer for the project. Several graduate students in geography also contributed to the effort.

“Rather than just a general reference map like a topographic map or the state highway map, we organized the atlas around major themes. You’ll find some information here on physical geography, like climate and geology, but you also find things related to the economy of the state, such as information about energy resources, mining and agriculture,” Hamerlinck says. “We also mapped voting patterns and some cultural characteristics that define the state, like rodeos and western-themed museums that we hope people will find interesting.”

The atlas is geared toward junior high students, but should be accessible by upper elementary grades and useful for older students.

“We hope the atlas will be of interest as a general reference for others interested in learning about our state through maps,” Webster says.

“The atlas is an incredible resource to teach map-reading skills and physical and human geography,” says Germaine Wagner, the Wyoming Geographic Alliance’s professional development coordinator.  “The maps are intriguing for the students and teachers.  The wide variety of maps in the atlas allow it to be used in all content areas, not only in social studies classrooms.”

She says the alliance plans to incorporate the atlas and its maps into its annual summer geography institutes for teachers.

The “Wyoming Student Atlas” is part of Hamerlinck and Webster’s bigger vision for mapping Wyoming, which includes creating a more comprehensive, large-format hard-cover atlas of the state -- a “coffee table”-style publication, accompanied by an online interactive website, also accessible by e-readers and tablets.

“Interestingly, while there have been atlases produced on specific themes like water and climate, there has never been an atlas of Wyoming published in book form that comprehensively addresses the diverse physical, cultural and economic geography of the state,” Hamerlinck says. “We look forward to feedback on the ‘Wyoming Student Atlas,’ which also will help us gauge interest and assess the feasibility of taking on a second publication at a much larger scale.”

For more information on the Wyoming Student Atlas and related resources, visit the WGA website at

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