Flashcard Maps: Learn US State Capitals, Flowers, and Birds

Students in primary school all over learn geography. In the United States, one common practice is to memorize state capitals. Though many of us forget them, it’s never too late to re-learn your geography. Let BatchGeo help you with this flash card map—or make your own. In addition to capitals, we’ve included state flowers and birds, so those who already remember capitals can have something new to learn.

View State Capitals Flash Cards in a full screen map

Those outside the U.S., or anyone who doesn’t card about northern cardinals and white prairie roses, can easily make their own geography flashcards using BatchGeo. We’ll show you how below.

First, let’s see how this flashcard map works. Zoom in and identify a state (that’s another geography quiz, though Google Maps gives you hints with labels). Click the marker over the state—we put them at the geographic center so as not to let city labels give away the capital. You’ll activate an info box above the marker with the answer.

To test yourself on the bird for that state, click the right arrow near the bottom of the info box. Click the arrow again for the state’s flower. The video above shows the flash cards in action, as well as a way to filter out one of the tests using the grouping functionality that comes with every BatchGeo map.

If you’re a guesser, here’s how to increase your odds:

  • For southern states, choose northern mockingbirds—northern is relative and fives states share this bird.
  • For more northern states, but not New England, go for the northern cardinal, the top choice with seven states claiming this red bird.
  • For those west of the Mississippi River, you’re best guessing the western meadowlark, the official bird of six states.

As for flowers, you’re on your own, but these are claimed by at least two states: violet (3), apple blossom, mountain laurel, wild prairie rose, goldenrod, and magnolia.

The tradition of a state flower appears to be older than choosing a state bird. The oldest state flower is Washington’s Coast rhododendron, established in 1892, just three years after Washington became a state. Six other states added official flowers before 1900. By contrast, over half of the states already had state flowers when state birds became a thing. The earliest state bird was in 1927, when seven states added official birds.

How to Make Your Own Geography Flashcards

Example spreadsheetAre you ready to make your own flashcard map? Whether for testing yourself, your kids, or your students, these are fun and easy to make. To start, all you need is a spreadsheet with a geographic location (country, state, or city name) and a column for at least one answer. Optionally, you can also include an image URL to help visual thinkers commit the answer to memory. See our power user tips to learn how to add images and more.

Now simply highlight every row/column of your spreadsheet (remember the header row!) and paste it into the big data box on the BatchGeo home page.

If you’d like to see how we created multiple categories in a single map, feel free to view the spreadsheet we used. For ideas on finding or preparing your data, be sure to check out our open data mapping guide.

Where Yellowstone National Park Geysers Blow

Perhaps the best known natural landmark in the United States is Yellowstone National Park. Within the “gates” of the park, certainly the most known feature is Old Faithful Geyser. The geothermal blast gets its name because it is one of the most predictable natural eruptions on earth. Since the US National Park system is turning 100 this year, we thought we’d take a look at Old Faithful and the many other geothermal features of Yellowstone.

View Geysers of Yellowstone in a full screen map

Old Faithful eruption in 1948. Photo from the National Park Service.

Old Faithful eruption in 1948. Photo from the National Park Service.

To start, Yellowstone is estimated to have 10,000 geothermal features. Since that’s just an estimate, nobody has actually tabulated each of those geysers, hot springs, and pools. While BatchGeo can certainly map thousands and thousands of locations (notably, it would only take a couple minutes), we decided to focus on the named and notable. How did we choose them? If they have a page or photo on Wikipedia, they’re in.

The map above has 123 geothermal features, which includes 87 are geysers. The easiest way to explore them is by areas, most of which are Geyser Basins. BatchGeo’s grouping feature makes that super easy by color coding the markers by these basins, and letting you click the one or more basins you want to see. For example, the Upper Geyser Basin has the most geothermal features. If you click that, you’ll be zoomed into the 51 geysers and other features within the basin.

Old Faithful is amongst the bubbling, blasting brethren of Upper Geyser Basin. While it may be the most predictable, there are several geysers that spew their hot water higher into the air. Old Faithful’s 106 feet (32 m) to 185 feet (56 m) certainly makes it amongst the highest. Others in the 100+ foot club include Giantess Geyser (100), Fan Geyser (125), Splendid Geyser (200), Grand Geyser (200), Beehive Geyser (200), and Giant Geyser (200). The highest geyser in Yellowstone history is the aptly-named Excelsior Geyser, which reached heights of 300 feet. Excelsior is believed to have blasted so hard its plumbing no longer can focus it as a geyser. Now called Excelsior Crater, it spends most of its time as a large, boiling pool, splashing up far below its previous heights.

Upper Geyser Basin includes all of the above 100+ foot geysers. If we include those between 50 and 100 feet, one other basin stands out. The Lower Geyser Basin contains the second-most geothermal features amongst those mapped, with 27. Two similarly-named 75 foot geysers are the sights to see in Lower Geyser Basin: Fountain Geyser and Great Fountain Geyser are both near the center of the basin. Though about the same height, Great Fountain Geyser lasts at least an hour (versus Fountain Geyser’s 30 minutes).

The durations of the geysers are widely varied. At least seven are more predictable than Old Faithful, but only because they are constant. The highest of these is Clepsydra Geyser, which is always spewing water 45 feet into the air. Interestingly, prior to a 1959 earthquake, Clepsydra (derived from Greek “water clock”) erupted every three minutes. The other constant blowers are Bijou Geyser (15 feet), Comet Geyser (5), Artesia Geyser (5), Spasm Geyser (3), Pump Geyser (2), and Beryl Spring (1).

Bijou Geyser constantly spews 15 feet high. Photo by Richard Ellis.

Bijou Geyser constantly spews 15 feet high. Photo by Richard Ellis.

Like Old Faithful and Clepsydra, other geysers seem to be named for their frequency, but not their predictability. Occasional Geyser in the West Thumb Geyser Basin is one of many that don’t erupt on any schedule. In fact, some are dormant, which seems to be nearly the case for the Semi-Centennial Geyser. And what do you call a gaseous body that always seems to erupt late? That would be Tardy Geyser in the Upper Geyser Basin.

In addition to filtering markers by the area of the park, you can also explore geyser height, frequency, and duration. Further, most of these features are filterable by temperature, and a handful of the pools can be filtered by depth. All this data began as a spreadsheet culled from this Wikipedia page.

Do you like to explore the natural world this way? Yellowstone is also one of 23 World Heritage Sites in the United States, and they’re all mapped.

Independence Days Around the World

Are you celebrating Independence Day? In the United States, we think of Independence Day as July 4. The same goes for Abkhazia, which became independent from the Republic of Georgia in 1993. In fact, there are 18 countries that celebrate their independence within a week of the Fourth of July. On the map below you’ll find 183 independence days around the globe.

View Independence Days Around the World in a full screen map

Temperature vs independenceJuly, it turns out, is a pretty popular month for independence. There are 25 countries that celebrate in July, second only to August’s 27. Perhaps there’s something to hot months, since most of these countries are in the northern hemisphere where July, August, and September (the third-most with 23) make up the summer months. The most common single day, September 15, supports the temperature theory. However, it’s tied with January 1, typically cold (but a great time to try something new).

If you’re looking for countries with independences in common, the most likely shared feature is the country from which they gained independence. If you paid any attention when you learned world history, the results will be unsurprisingly centered on the powerhouses of Europe. There are 60 countries who celebrate their independence from the United Kingdom, which is enough to make the Queen’s ears burn any month of the year.

France is next, with 24 independent countries. The earliest of the bunch is Haiti, which has been on its own since 1804, though French is still one of the Caribbean island’s official languages. Rounding out the top three is Spain (20 countries), with almost every one of its former colonies in central and South America.

One of the non-American countries to gain independence from Spain is Morocco. The north African country declared independence in 1956 from not just Spain, but also France. There are several countries that also gained independence from multiple countries at roughly the same time: Nauru (Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom), Sudan (Egypt and the United Kingdom), Malaysia (Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore), Cameroon (France and United Kingdom), Vietnam (Japan and France), Lithuania (Russia and Germany), Poland (Russia, Prussia, and Austria), Vanuatu (United Kingdom and France), Libya (United Kingdom and France), Somalia (United Kingdom and Italy), and Brazil (United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves).

If you’re old enough to remember the 1990s, you can probably guess which country had the most independent states in the shortest time. From March 11, 1990 (Lithuania) to December 16, 1991 (Kazakhstan), a dozen countries gained independence from the Soviet Union.

The fall of the USSR is one reason that the 1900s saw the vast majority of independence days mapped here. Many others happened after World Wars I and II. Another nearly 30 occurred in the 1800s, while a small handful were from several hundred years ago. The oldest is Hungary’s National Day, dating back to the year 1000. The Swiss celebrate a date nearly 300 years later, when the typically neutral country joined an alliance against the Holy Roman Empire. Sweden in 1523 and Portugal in 1640 practically seem recent in comparison.

Independence Day poster

The next-most recent, the United States from the British on July 4, 1776. That’s 220 years, almost to the day, before the biggest Independence Day of all: the release of the 1996 summer hit starring Will Smith fighting aliens.

Tour the U.S. World Heritage Sites

Take the Seven Wonders of the World, expand the list and you get the World Heritage sites. A United Nations creation from the 1960s, there are now over 1,000 of these sites all over the world. In the United States there have been 23 locations ratified since the 1970s, all shown on the map below.

View World Heritage Sites in the United States in a full screen map

An impressive 21 states are represented amongst the 23 locations, taking into account that some are shared among multiple states. Yellowstone, for example, covers areas of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Great Smoky Mountains are in both Tennessee and North Carolina. New Mexico has the most of any state with three: Chaco Culture National Historic Park, Taos Pueblo, and Carlsbad Caverns.

World Heritage sites are chosen by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The US spurred the process originally, calling for a “World Heritage Trust” in 1965. The project became a reality in 1972, with the first US sites chosen in the late 1970s. Worldwide, there are 962 sites, including cultural sites like the Taj Mahal and natural sites like the Serengeti National Park.

Cultural vs Natural

The broad criteria for inclusion as a World Heritage site is that a place must have natural or cultural significance. A site must meet at least one of ten criteria, and nations nominate from their own tentative lists. Interestingly, a site may be considered both cultural and natural. These “mixed” sites account for a very small number (just 29) worldwide. Most sites are cultural (745), which indicates they’re likely man-made. Only 19% (188 sites) are natural.

In the US, the split is much more even—in fact, there are more natural than cultural. You can use BatchGeo’s grouping feature on the map above to display the 12 natural and 10 cultural sites. That just covers 22 of the 23. The other one, Papahānaumokuākea, is a mixed site in Hawaii and minor outlying islands.

The earliest World Heritage sites in the US to join the list were Yellowstone (Natural) and Mesa Verde (Cultural). Four others followed the next year, including the Grand Canyon. The most recent, the San Antonio Missions, was added in 2015. More are likely coming: there are still 11 sites on the US tentative list, including Petrified Forest National Park and Mount Vernon, the plantation home of the much-homaged George Washington.

Mapping Local Crime Data Online

When Google Maps was released in 2005, one of the first projects to use it externally was ChicagoCrime.org. Though now defunct, the site was built when the hard way to add Google Maps was even harder. It inspired many other community crime maps, and won a Knight-Batten award for innovation in journalism in 2005. Since that time many newspapers have replaced the traditional police blotter with the much more visual map, as you’ll see in these examples below.

Readers use crime maps in many different ways. Some will want to check for incidents in their immediate neighborhood, with most police data reported at the block level. Others will be interested in a larger neighborhood area or the city as a whole. Since most police data is segmented by type, readers may also want to see which incidents are thefts, burglary, or other types of crime.

Example Newspaper Crime Maps

Many newspapers have maps of recent crimes that staff keep updated on their websites. These can be used by both readers and journalists as the seed for future stories.

Evansville Courier and Press

The Evansville Courier and Press in Indiana maintains an impressive daily crime map built with BatchGeo. Each incident includes the address, case number, date, type of incident, and the department that reported it (typically the Evansville Police).

Anniston Star

The Anniston Star of Alabama regularly updates its map of recent crimes, and it lets readers group by the date of the crime. This powerful grouping and filtering feature comes with all BatchGeo accounts, no special coding required.

Milwaukee Community Newspapers

Milwaukee’s Community NOW newspapers are reaching BatchGeo power user status with their frequently updated map. The incident reports can be filtered by incident type, which allows readers and journalists to focus on specific types of crimes.

These are just a handful of crime maps created with BatchGeo. One of the reasons we’re a popular solution is that it’s very easy to create your own.

How to Create a Crime Map

We’ve designed BatchGeo to make map making as easy as copy and paste. Crime maps are the same. Here’s how you can make your own:

  1. Find a data source – This may be the hardest part, but your city should have a way to access police reports. This is very likely open data, after all.
  2. Store your data in a spreadsheet – You should be able to download as Excel or CSV, as is an option in the popular Socrata government datasets. Alternatively, you may be able to copy from a table on the web into a spreadsheet.
  3. Paste the data into BatchGeo – Once your data is in a spreadsheet, it’s ready for BatchGeo. Just copy and paste to make a map from your Excel spreadsheet.
  4. Embed the map in your website (optional) – As with the newspapers mentioned above, embedding maps in your own website helps you control the user experience and looks professional.

Crime is just one of the ways journalists use BatchGeo. Every map tells a story, start telling yours now.