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, former 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.
goods carried by a ship, plane, or other vehicle.
sharing of information and ideas.
to bring and secure a ship or boat to a space or facility.
study of monetary systems, or the creation, buying, and selling of goods and services.
conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.
the understanding of human and natural systems, geographic reasoning, and systematic decision-making.
process of moving to a new country or region with the intention of staying and living there.
visual representation of data. Also called information graphic or graphic.
structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.
place on a body of water where ships can tie up or dock and load and unload cargo.
safety or stability.
the industry (including food, hotels, and entertainment) of traveling for pleasure.
buying, selling, or exchanging of goods and services.