Mapping My Stuff

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11175

Where did your TV come from? How about your toothpaste, shoes, and light bulbs? If you said "Walmart," you're not thinking globally! Learn about the impact your purchases have on the world population!


Geography, People and Their Environment

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Just a couple centuries ago, receiving a fine spice from a faraway land would have been a big event. Now, we are surrounded by products from every corner of the world, and rarely stop to think about it.

  • That computer you are using right now — where did it come from?

Somebody put it together for you.

  • Who are those people?

When you plot out your products on a map, you make a shocking discovery: your life is connected to dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of other lives in many places you may never even have heard of!

This is the age of, eBay, and Wal-Mart Online, when we can hop online and buy stuff from the comfort of our living room, while walking down the street, or while sitting in traffic.

In the quaint old days, less than a hundred years ago, you probably knew the people who made your stuff. Not anymore — you are lucky to even know from which continent it came.

Read this article, Where did your laptop come from?, by David Bradley, courtesy of Materials Today, Elsevier Ltd. As you read, list all of the countries from where the components of this computer might have come.

Take this challenge. Print a blank map of the world, such as this Blank World Map, retrieved from Educypedia. Locate and mark each of the countries you listed from the article, but here's the catch: You can't peek. Don't do a search for the location or look at another map!

  • How many countries did you know?

Don't be embarrassed; most of us would probably have some difficulty! Give your parent or teacher the same challenge and see if he or she can do better.

  • How many more did you or your parent or teacher get?

This was the list of countries of origin for just one single product. Imagine all the connections to all the people and the places in the world that are affected by the decisions and choices you and I make.

Reflect on these questions and discuss:

  • Why does our stuff come from so many different places, and from so far away?
  • What are the possible impacts, both positive and negative, on the people in those places?
  • What are the possible impacts, both positive and negative, on people here at home?

Now that you have seen the number of global connections made with just one single computer, think about some of the other things you and your family consume.

Continue on to the Got It? section to map some products from around your home!

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