Chris Spurgeon — mapping expert

By Josh

Chris Spurgeon standing astride the Prime Meridian at the Greenwich Observatory outside of London. His left foot is in the Western hemisphere, his right foot is in the Eastern hemisphere.

Chris Spurgeon has a life-long interest in the histories of science, geography, cartography and navigation. He’s lectured on everything from map design to how the ancient Polynesians found their way at sea. He says, “I’ve always loved things related to geography… borders, place names, navigation, maps, cartography. I love how mapping is this perfect mix of science and art.”

Chris contributed not one but two how-to features to our book’s ADVENTURE chapter. One is “Mapping and Navigating” — which offers ideas on how to make “personal maps,” how to get started with the sport of orienteering, how to map an imaginary world, how to find “confluence points” near you, and how to travel the world digitally.

Chris’s other UNBORED feature is “Train Your Grownup to Geocache.” It explains how to get started with geocaching, how to avoid disappointment as you geocache, how to track down a hidden cache, and what to do once you locate a cache. He also explains what “muggles” are, in geocaching culture.


* Chris has been a reporter, a carpenter, a bike messenger, an ornithologist, and a computer programmer.

* Chris makes electronic gadgets, and there is often smoke coming out of his garage. He also builds and flies large amateur rockets like this one:

* Chris says: “I guess our family’s goal is to as much as possible be a family just like the one in A Day with Wilbur Robinson and have a house just like the one Wallace and Gromit live in.”

* Chris teaches a class in “Physical Computing” at a college in Pasadena, CA called the Art Center College of Design. He explains: “Physical Computing is anything that uses electronics and computer programming to do things in the real world (as opposed to just moving images on a computer screen). Robots are examples of physical computing. So are elevators that come when you push a button, remote control garage doors, and a million other things. Wallace and Gromit are great dabblers in physical computing!”

* Chris and his wife Barb have two kids, Will and Molly. Will is very interested in robots and robotics. Chris says: “In high school he was captain of the school’s robotics team (I was one of the team mentors) and built robots for the FIRST robotics competition. Now he’s in his first year of college at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts majoring in — what else — robotic engineering.” Molly is in 10th grade and she is into women’s roller derby. She’s also a great maker and crafter. Chris says: “She’s made a replica of the gun from the video game Portal, and some great steampunk outfits. Molly’s latest masterpiece was an amazing Halloween costume based on the sci-fi TV show Doctor Who.” Check it out: