• Ports are docking places for ships carrying people and cargo. The United States has ports along the ocean, rivers, and lakes. Ports are critical for local, national, and international trade, as well as immigration, tourism, security, and environmental policy.
    This infographic, from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, outlines "Key Partners Involved in Critical Port Infrastructure Operations and Oversight." The graphic is an excellent illustration of one aspect of what Daniel Edelson, vice-president of education programs at the National Geographic Society, calls systems thinking.
    Scientists today view the world as a set of interconnected natural and human systems,” Edelson writes. “These systems create, transform, and move resources.”
    The port infrastructure in this graphic is a human system of exchange—focusing on economics, communication, safety, and security. Absent is a representation of the natural systems of ports—their ecosystems, hydrology, or climate.
    “To be geo-literate,” Edelson says, “a person must be able to reason about how he or she depends on these different systems and how his or her actions can affect them.”
    Use the discussion questions in the following tab to help your students better understand their relationship to ports, and how their actions can affect the infrastructure found there.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    cargo Noun

    goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.

    communication Noun

    sharing of information and ideas.

    dock Verb

    to bring and secure a ship or boat to a space or facility.

    economics Noun

    study of monetary systems, or the creation, buying, and selling of goods and services.

    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    geo-literacy Noun

    the understanding of human and natural systems, geographic reasoning, and systematic decision-making.

    immigration Noun

    process of moving to a new country or region with the intention of staying and living there.

    infographic Noun

    visual representation of data. Also called information graphic or graphic.

    infrastructure Noun

    structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.

    port Noun

    place on a body of water where ships can tie up or dock and load and unload cargo.

    Encyclopedic Entry: port
    security Noun

    safety or stability.

    tourism Noun

    the industry (including food, hotels, and entertainment) of traveling for pleasure.

    trade Noun

    buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.

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