Tag Archives: fieldwork
Earth Day invokes reflection. Earth Day #1 was 1970. Cars, computers, climate, education, population … much is different, some better, some more troubling. We dance along some very slippery slopes. We need more respect for our little spaceship and its layer upon layer of complex, interconnected, and powerful but by no means indestructible systems. Only education can save our planet, and education requires engagement. We can all live more sustainably. But educators bear extra responsibility, to involve youth in more activities embracing our world. Not through fragmenting knowledge but through integration … activities that engage youth with the richness of the planet, the wealth of subjects and senses, and the passion of a holistic experience.
It is easy to do, even with only a little bit of field data. Think about an activity you do, or what your students would like to do. Gather some data, take some photos, record the experience, construct a table, drop it on a map, and bring forth a simple story.
A simple video shows the process, from designing a table to moving data onto a map to saving and sharing the story. You will see how utterly simple it can be, and how engaging. (See the video via YouTube or DropBox.)
Try it. Better yet, share the video with kids and let them do it. Let them do projects that entice them to think holistically. We need young people to care enough about Earth to explore, learn, and make critical decisions, thinking holistically, not just about one single measure. Start small and build.
Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
A number of educators in our community have long been using Geocaching to foster interest in fieldwork, to familiarize students with GPS and data collection devices, and simply to get students onto the landscape. Geocaching is the high-tech treasure hunt that challenges participants to find an object that people have placed on the ground or one that naturally exists on the ground using latitude and longitude coordinates. In education, I favor virtual geocaching such as Earthcaching to avoid placing objects on the ground and the associated risk of not having them available when I need them, and also to be more environmentally sensitive. I have created numerous geocaching courses over the years at schools, along riverbanks, in parks, and at educational conferences, many of which are on the ArcLessons library. Mine usually have a story woven through them, such as the Revolutionary War, “Aliens Land at City Park”, and “Then and Now: Historical and Current Transportation”. I think the geocaching movement has done wonders in getting people re-connected with nature, learn geography and technology, and is a fun way to get in some exercise.
The advent of ArcGIS Online brings a platform that is very useful for geocaching in a number of ways. First, you can use ArcGIS Online to plan your trip to existing geocaches, using the topographic and satellite image basemaps and the “measure point” function to pinpoint your desired destination.
Second, you can use it to lay out a course that you want others, such as your students or your colleagues to follow, as I have done at right, described in an ArcLesson and posted to ArcGIS Online as a map. I used the metadata page attached to the map to describe the course. By using the metadata page, the participants only have to go to the web map to get both the map and the course. The course includes 23 questions along with a final challenge in a story called “The Case of the Missing Map.” For example, question 13 is: Continue to 40.15436 north, 105.29686 west. What occurred on the slopes to the southwest in the past but its evidence can still be seen today? ___________.
Third, the ArcGIS Online app can be used on a smartphone to navigate to these points while out in the field.
Thus, ArcGIS Online extends the capabilities of geocaching, and any fieldwork. How might you use ArcGIS Online to enhance what you are doing in the field?
Every four years, the USA undergoes a bit of revolution. Some years are bigger than others. For the first time, I got to see it live. For friends and family around the world, I joined over a half-million to bear witness.
Along the way, I used my smartphone’s ArcGIS app to gather data and photos. The data proved not sufficiently useful; that’s sometimes the way it goes with science. But the practice was valuable. And the photos tell a story.
After taking the oath of office, President Obama talked about what we the people can do, and must do. Education was front and center. Liberty and equality, prosperity and happiness, present and future, all rely on collective action. We need to build understanding of complex phenomena, strengthen our capacity to solve problems, and can only do so together.
I looked around at the sea of people … all sizes, ages, races, and stations. I looked at the little device in my hand. With it, I had gathered data, captured images, transmitted content, and shared the experience. I had prepared for this mission by integrating multiple devices, considering various layers, learning different applications, and deciding on a plan.
This is what we can help young people do. Citizen science is the product of we the people. It depends on we the people valuing the principles and skills of science, the interwoven stories of both natural and human worlds, the integrative perspective of geography, and the immense capacity of technology. We the people can share these with each other, young and old alike, and build a better world, if we do it together. We have serious challenges ahead, for which our only hope is education. We the people must commit to building and sharing knowledge together.
- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager
I recently gave presentations at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for GIS Day, and took the opportunity, as most geographers would, to get out onto the landscape. I walked on the Lake Michigan pier at Manitowoc, enjoying a stroll in the brisk wind to and from the lighthouse there, recording my track on my smartphone in an application called Runkeeper. When my track had finished and been mapped, it appeared as though I had been walking on the water!
Map of my walk from Runkeeper.com.
Photograph of my destination: The lighthouse at the North Pier, Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
According to my map, I walked on water. Funny, but I don’t recall even getting wet! It all comes down to paying close attention to your data, and knowing its sources. Showing these images provides a teachable moment in a larger discussion on the importance of scale and resolution in any project involving maps or GIS. In my case, even if I scrolled in to a larger scale, the pier did not appear on the Runkeeper’s application’s base map. It does, however, appear in the base map in ArcGIS Online. In the book that Jill Clark and I wrote entitled The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data, we discuss how scale and resolution can be conceptualized and put into practice in both the raster and vector worlds. We cite examples where neglecting these important concepts have led not only to bad decisions, but have cost people their property and even their lives. Today, while GIS tools allow us to instantly zoom to a large scale, the data being examined might have been collected at a much smaller scale. Much caution therefore needs to be used when making decisions when the analysis scale is larger than the collection scale.
What example have you used in class that well illustrates the importance of scale and resolution?
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
I recently created a map in ArcGIS Online and a series of videos that shows the location of what may be the biggest city that never was: Cairo, Illinois. During the mid-1800s, many believed that this city, founded on the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, gateways to settlement of the central and western United States, could someday surpass Philadelphia or even New York City.
I created the map for several reasons. First, like many of you, I am fascinated by maps. Mapping is a natural way to tell a story, and Cairo has a very interesting story to tell. For several geographic reasons, Cairo not only didn’t live up to its expectations, and has been declining by 10% to 20% per decade for the past 70 years (2010 population, 2,831). While Cairo has a good situation on the point of land divided by the rivers, the site is flood-prone. In addition, the rise of St Louis upstream on the Mississippi River also posed challenges for Cairo. In fact, socioeconomically, Cairo remains one of the poorest communities in the region, which you can investigate for yourself by pulling up the “USA Demographics for Schools” layer in ArcGIS Online and investigating median income and median home value. It nevertheless has a fascinating and unique character steeped in history and geography.
The second reason I created the map was because ArcGIS Online allows for the easy integration of multimedia elements to tell a story. In my case, I created the map only after having the opportunity to visit Cairo this year en route to Murray State University, taking videos and photographs to be sure, but also getting a “sense of place” for Cairo. During my visit, my discovery of a tiny community just north of Cairo dubbing itself “Future City” seemed to fit perfectly with the above themes. At the river confluence, a weathered monument in the shape of Lewis and Clark’s boat the Merrimack standing in a rather forlorn state park seemed to reinforce the fact that this was the Biggest City That Never Was. The photographs and videos I took there were easily integrated into my ArcGIS Online map.
What important places on the landscape have you visited or read about, and how might you create stories about them using ArcGIS Online?
–Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
What sort of changes has your neighborhood, the area around your school or university campus, or even your own backyard seen over the past few years? Outside our Esri office in Colorado, a large condominium complex has been under construction for a year. Its construction invites consideration of scale, change, and geography. In my neighborhood and in yours, GIS provides an excellent toolkit to examine changes and the reasons for them.
For centuries, communities changed very little, and indeed, some communities today undergo very little change. Yet in most communities, changes in infrastructure, total population, and the makeup of that population are commonplace. In my neighborhood, the hilltop site was chosen because of the excellent views its residents will have of the Colorado Front Range. These, incidentally, were formerly enjoyed by my colleagues on the north end of our building! Regionally, construction reflects population growth fuelled by the combination of high-tech industries, including GIS, and amenities such as nearby universities, the mountains, and the climate, making Colorado one of the fastest growing states over the past half century.
One way to do this is to examine imagery in ArcGIS Online and add three types of basemaps: Bing maps aerials, the ArcGIS Online imagery, and the USGS topographic maps layer. These sources were created on different dates and thus provide an easy and rich data source with which to examine changes in local communities. Revisit a changing area often and capture and save the updated images as I did here. Toggle the layers on and off and/or adjust the transparency so that you can compare and contrast them. Combine this to population change data that is easily added in ArcGIS Online.
Go outside and take pictures and videos around your local community. Write and sketch what you see. Revisit the same sites during different weather events and in different seasons, or in the case of my Esri neighborhood in Colorado, as construction progresses. Link these photographs, videos, and text to points on your ArcGIS Online maps. What changes are occurring, and why? What will your community look like and be like in 5 years? In 20 years? What can you do to influence your community in a positive way?
I invite you to use ArcGIS Online beginning with these simple but powerful ways.
- Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education is a multidisciplinary approach to improving education, the work force, and national competitiveness. President Barack Obama
noted that “Strengthening STEM education is vital to preparing our students to compete in the twenty-first century economy, and we need to recruit and train math and science teachers to support our nation’s students.” (White House Press Release, September 27, 2010).
Geographic information system (GIS) technology can engage several critical elements in STEM curriculum and instruction. GIS tools and techniques lead to understanding cross-disciplinary phenomena and solving problems rooted in academic and real world concepts. People use GIS to make maps, analyze data, and decide on best solutions. From a curricular perspective, GIS allows us to study climate change, design cities, inventory geologic samples, plan ecological growth models, catalog contents of an archaeological site, and countless other activities. GIS and related geospatial technologies of global positioning systems (GPS) and remote sensing can be used to simultaneously engage students in science, technology, engineering, and math.
To support the ever growing interest in GIS and STEM from teachers, researchers, and administrators, Esri has released a new (free) ebook addressing the multi-faceted supports GIS offers STEM classrooms. Dr. Tom Baker begins the ebook by addressing the core question, “How does GIS enhance STEM learning?” The ebook is filled with rich case studies of STEM in formal and informal environments. The power of STEM collaborations and partnerships and ties to career and workforce development is also a central theme of the volume. The ebook outlines three beneficial tracks for student learning in STEM by integrating GIS technology:
- Improved declarative knowledge
- Improved procedural knowledge (critical thinking, problem solving, spatial reasoning, etc)
- Career skills development
The new ebook Advancing STEM Education with GIS is available now for download in PDF here
(right-click to “Save as”), perfect for mobile devices and tablets.
- Steve Obenhaus, Olathe North High School
- Penny Carpenter, Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center, Lubbock Independent School District
- Matthew North, Washington and Jefferson College
- Kerry Lagueux, Heather Deschenes, and Maria Elena Derrien
- Jim Baumann, Esri
- Nicole Minni, University of Delaware
- Susan Harp, Esri
- Daniel C. Edelson, National Geographic Society
- Karen Dvornich, University of Washington and Dan Hannafious, Hood Canal Salmon Enhancement Group
- Hans Bodenhamer, Bigfork High School
- Joseph Kerski, Esri
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in BioBlitz 2012 at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. BioBlitz is a 10-year partnership between the US National Park Service and National Geographic with three goals: (1) Highlight the diversity of national parks by conducting a taxonomic inventory; (2) public outreach; (3) to inspire young people to pursue careers in science and geography. During one day, I went into the field to collect and categorize macroinvertebrates in a beautiful montane stream (shown here in ArcGIS Online) with 40 students aged 11 to 13.
After collecting the data over a period of five hours, the data was identified by the students according to a detailed classification chart.
The data was then input into a web-GIS called FieldScope, created by National Geographic and based on Esri technology, and viewable that same evening by anyone on the web.
It was wonderful to work with our partners at National Geographic and in particular, with students, and four things struck me through this event. First, it is important to get students into the field repeatedly, and at young ages, to provide rich experiences and a love for the outdoors and the environment. During the next day, I met environmental and youth advocate Juan Martinez, who had a powerful experience with an Eco Club in south Los Angeles that changed his life. I was impressed by the high quality and collaborative nature of the students’ work. They were interested not only in getting wet collecting data, but they were just as interested in classifying the data. In fact, they were so immersed that nobody happened to notice a bear about 100 meters away, documented by a photograph that another group showed our group later that day!
Second, powerful things can happen when students and professional scientists collaborate, as evident here and with such efforts as GeoMentor, GIS Corps, and Project Budburst. BioBlitz brought together hundreds of students, over 100 scientists, and thousands of the general public whose two days of data collection resulted in over 400 bird, fungi, macroinvertebrate, animal, and vascular plant species that had never been documented in this particular national park before. Third, the event reinforced the concepts that Jill Clark and I wrote about in the book The GIS Guide to Public Domain Data: As citizen science projects gain in popularity, enabled by powerful, easy-to-use web-GIS and field collection instruments, how can data collected by a wide variety of people be managed and cataloged that is useful and allows people to understand how that data was collected, categorized, and mapped?
What are some meaningful field experiences that you have had?
-Joseph Kerski, Esri Education Manager